Piazza del Duomo & Around
One of the world’s largest cathedrals, Florence’s Gothic Duomo is quite an eyeful. Officially the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, it was begun in 1294 by Sienese architect Arnolfo di Cambio and consecrated in 1436. Its most famous feature, the enormous cupola, was built by Brunelleschi after his design won a public competition in 1420. The interior is decorated with frescoes by Vasari and Zuccari, and the stained-glass windows are by Donatello, Paolo Uccello and Lorenzo Ghiberti. The characteristic red, green and white marble facade is actually a 19th-century replacement of the unfinished original, pulled down in the 16th century.
Galleria degli Uffizi (Uffizi Gallery)
Home to the world’s greatest collection of Renaissance art, the Galleria degli Uffizi is one of Italy’s biggest and most popular galleries, so unless you've booked a ticket, expect to queue.
Lined with jewellery shops, the 14th-century Ponte Vecchio was originally flanked by butchers’ shops. But when the Medici built a corridor through the bridge to link Palazzo Pitti with Palazzo Vecchio, they ordered that the butchers be replaced with goldsmiths.
Built for the Pitti family, the vast 15thcentury Palazzo Pitti was bought by the Medici in 1549 and became their family residence. Today it houses four museums, of which the Galleria Palatina is the most important. Works by Raphael, Filippo Lippi, Titian and Rubens adorn lavishly decorated rooms. Three other museums – the Museo degli Argenti (Silver Museum), the Museo delle Porcellane (Porcelain Museum) and the Galleria d’Arte Moderna & del Costume (Modern Art & Costume Gallery) – are also here. A group ticket gets you in to all three as well as the Renaissance Giardino di Boboli (Boboli Gardens) and Giardino Bardini (Bardini Gardens).
The Galleria dell’Accademia is where you’ll find David, arguably the Western world’s most famous sculpture. Michelangelo carved the giant figure from a single block of marble, finishing it in 1504 when he was just 29.
Basilica di San Lorenzo & Cappelle Medicee
One of the city’s finest examples of Renaissance architecture, the Basilica di San Lorenzo was built by Brunelleschi in the 15th century and includes his Sagrestia Vecchia (Old Sacristy), with sculptural decoration by Donatello.
The sumptuous Cappelle Medicee are around the corner. Highlights are the extravagant Cappella dei Principi, the principal burial place of the Medici grand dukes, and the incomplete Sagrestia Nuova, Michelangelo’s first architectural effort.