Florence on foot: 3 itineraries for exploring the city
The historic centre, Piazzale Michelangelo and the Oltrarno: what to see in Florence on foot
Florence contains numerous corners of beauty, paths and trails that surround the city like a treasure map. Let’s discover the unmissable ones together!
Let’s start with a classic itinerary. Our route starts from Piazza del Duomo and continues towards Giotto’s Bell Tower where, on the north-east side of the square, we find the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, guardian of many artefacts and works of great artistic value, such as the original gold doors of the Baptistery.
Once in front of the museum, we turn right into Via del Proconsolo and take the second right into via del Corso. We then continue along Via del Presto di San Martino and come to the Dante House Museum, where the famous poet lived centuries ago. On the corner with Via Ghibellina we find the famous Bargello Museum. Continuing on for a couple of blocks, we turn right into via dei Gondi, and come to Piazza Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi, to be admired in all their splendour. Finally, a stop on the Ponte Vecchio is a must, perhaps at sunset, to admire the city in all its loveliest nuances.
PIAZZALE MICHELANGELO AND SAN MINIATO
One of the most appealing itineraries is the one that leads to San Miniato. Let’s start from the San Niccolò Gate and begin our ascent. We cross the lovely Rose Garden as we climb up to Piazzale Michelangelo, where we can catch our breath as we look out over the semi-circular balustrade to admire the amazing view.
From here, another ten minutes of steep ascent and a flight of steps lead us to an incredible two-tone marble facade. We are in a fantastic place, the Basilica of San Miniato. A masterpiece of marble inlaid in dense black and white pattern depicting signs of the zodiac, griffins and animals. Surrounded by beauty and silence, among olive trees and cypresses, we have Florence at our feet. A precious gift. On our right we find the Cemetery of the Holy Doors with the funerary monuments of great Florentine families in a mixture of eras, styles, materials and shapes.
Walking along the central path, at the end, you come across a statue in white marble that depicts two young people dancing, perhaps newlyweds. The girl’s dress seems to flutter in an eternal movement of youthful happiness. They weren’t even 25 when they died a year apart, which makes it a truly touching monument, beautiful and sad at the same time. From here, we return to the historic center this time going down to the left of San Miniato, along the picturesque Via San Leonardo after having walked a few hundred meters along Viale Galilei.
We skirt Forte Belvedere until a short way on the right we come to the entrance to the Bardini Garden one of the city’s most beautiful monumental gardens, full of intimate, private corners. Let’s go inside, let’s enjoy the peace and relaxation of this last stage of our second itinerary before heading back down to the center.
This walk takes us to the other side of the Arno River to discover the Florence of artisans’ workshops, traditional trattorias and the more authentic streets.
We start from Ponte Vecchio and go straight ahead towards Via dei Guicciardini as far as Palazzo Pitti. On our left we find the Church ofSan Felicita - a Gothic church with the Vasari Corridor running across its facade - which houses a crucifix attributed to Giotto, frescoes by Pontormo and other works worth stopping to see.
In Piazza Pitti we can enjoy a few moments rest before heading to Piazza di San Felice, where there is a small column. We go round it and take Via Mazzetta, which leads to Santo Spirito, a splendid green square much loved by the young. In the morning you could wander round the market or visit the Renaissance Church of Santa Maria di Santo Spirito, famous above all for its frescoes by Botticelli and Filippino Lippi.
Don’t forget to stop at some of Florence’s most characteristic shops. We end our itinerary going along Via di Maggio to Santa Trinita Bridge. Along the way, we keep an eye out on the left to admire the Palazzo di Bianca Cappello, a splendid 16th century building.