If you only have short time, you can explore the heart of downtown. You start at Piazza del Duomo, where the most important religious buildings are situated, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, crowned by the dome, while next to the facade of the cathedral stands the slender bell tower by Giotto, and in front of it, the Baptistery of San Giovanni. Following lively Via Calzaiuoli, you pass the church of Orsanmichele adorned with sculptures, and a little farther ahead, you come to Piazza della Signoria, the political heart of Florence. Here the Palazzo della Signoria, or Palazzo Vecchio has stood since the end of 1200. It is the seat of the municipality as well as a museum, and next to it is the Loggia dei Lanzi, where statues by many artists are displayed.
Connected to the Palazzo Vecchio is the impressive Uffizi, designed by Vasari and the seat of the Medici Chancellery, a paradigmatic museum for Italian art. The visit to the Gallery requires several hours. Then, continue on foot towards the Ponte Vecchio, one of the symbols of the city. You cross over the Arno to find the neighbourhood of Santo Spirito. Of the four historic city districts, three (San Giovanni, Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce) are on this side of the Arno, while only one, Santo Spirito, is located on the left bank. Here is Piazza Pitti, and Palazzo Pitti, home to several museums and enhanced by a landscaped park, the Boboli Gardens. If you still have a little time, you can to head towards Piazza Santo Spirito, where you can soak up the lively atmosphere of the neighbourhood. It is home to numerous crafts and at its centre is the church of Santo Spirito, designed by Brunelleschi. Complete the tour with the complex of Santa Maria del Carmine, where Masaccio frescoed the Brancacci Chapel.
If you have more time, there is a plenty of historical places to visit. Not far from the main train station is the beautiful church of Santa Maria Novella and the Museum by the same name. Continue on to Palazzo Strozzi, one of the most important Renaissance buildings and now home to art exhibitions. Another great Renaissance building, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, the home of Cosimo the Elder of the Medici family. In the area, the church of San Lorenzo, also connected to the Laurentian Library, the Old Sacristy and the Medici Chapels. In Piazza San Marco, the church and Convent of San Marco. Nearby is the museum of the Accademia Gallery, while if you continue ahead, you reach the harmonious Piazza Santissima Annunziata, surrounded by buildings with porticos, of which the most important is the Spedale degli Innocenti, and the Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata. To the left of the church on the corner of Via Capponi is the entrance to the Archaeological Museum, with Etruscan, Roman and Egyptian collections. Other great places, the Museum of the Opera del Duomo, the Museum of theBargello with important sculptures (Donatello, Michelangelo), Piazza Santa Croce dominated by the famous Basilica, the Bardini Museum with the Galilei’s telescopes, and Fort Belvedere with the spectacular spots in Florence, Basilica of San Miniato al Monte and Piazzale Michelangelo, the balcony over the city much loved by tourists.