Florence has two main railway stations – Santa Maria Novella and Rifredi. Santa Maria Novella (SMN) is the main railway station of Florence and is near the tourist areas explained in this post.
At SMN, take the exit on the left and then take the underpass towards Santa Maria Novella church across the street.
Santa Maria Novella church in dramatic white marble and black granite, is a very beautiful church. If you have a little time, take a look at the front part of the church with a lovely square.
The next stop is the Duomo square with its cathedral. Follow Via Panzani and then Via dei Cerretani for reaching the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral. It is just a ten-fifteen minutes walk.
The square has the octagonal baptistery, the cathedral and the bell tower. The whole square is very beautiful. To appreciate its beauty, visit it in early morning or late evening of a weekday, when there are less tourists.
Entrance to the eight-sided Baptistery requires a ticket and often there is a queue to go inside. Even if you do not go inside, take the time to look at its solid brass doors with some amazing bass-relief sculptures.
On the right side of the cathedral, there are street artists who make beautiful portrait sketches and are really quick. You may wish to get your portrait done as a take-away memory of the Florence visit.
Compared to the rich sculptures and the colours outside, inside the cathedral is relatively simple. It is huge. Remember to look up to see the rich paintings on the inside of the dome. If you have time, you can even climb to the top of the dome (requires a ticket) for an absolutely marvellous view of the city skyline and the surroundings.
In front of the Cathedral, Via dei Calzaiuoli on the right side will bring you to the most famous square of Florence – “Piazza della signoria” (Lords’ square). The square has many things to see - the statue of Cosimo on the horse, beautiful Neptune fountain, Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace) museum and the open-air Loggia with some beautiful sculptures.
If you have some time, take a closer look at the sculptures in the square. For example, in the Neptune fountain, look at the way the horses are sculpted – you can even see the veins on their necks.
Uffizi museum is in the narrow street next to the Loggia. Along the street, on both sides you will find the statues of all the important historical celebrities of Florence including Macchiavelli and Dante.
Uffizi is one of the most important art museums of the world. It has an enormous collection of art masterpieces from Renaissance period of Italy. If you have read Dan Brown’s bestseller based in Florence, “Inferno”, you may already know about the masterpieces of this museum.
You need at least half a day to visit it. Usually there is a long queue of tourists waiting to go inside the museums.
The Old Bridge on the Arno river is the next stop of this essential tour of Florence. Just behind Uffizi road is Lungarno, the bank of Arno river. Turn right on Lungarno and you will see the old bridge.
The bridge is full of shops selling gold and jewellry and is always crowded. I love the backside of the shops on the Old Bridge, painted in different colours, hanging over the river.
Boboli Gardens and Museum
If you still have time, you can go across the bridge and continue for a short distance along that road to reach Boboli gardens and its museum that play a key role in Dan Brown’s “Inferno”.
This essential walking tour of central Florence takes you to some of the most beautiful artistic places in the world. If you have time, you can spend a full day in each of them to look at and appreciate their paintings and sculptures.
Around the places described above, there are numerous small medieval streets and other places to see including different old churches. Many of these not-so-famous churches also have so many beautiful sculptures and paintings.