During our two days in Florence, we did two different walking tours of Florence. These were self planned, and self guided tours. And the advantage was that we did them at our own pace. Since, we were free to stop on whichever location we wanted. Or, change our course whenever we wanted. And take as much time as we wanted. While we did our first walking tour of the city of Florence the day we arrived here. And that was almost a 5 hours tour. We did our second walking tour of Florence the very next day in the morning.
Our second walking tour of Florence
After having a great walking tour in Florence the day we arrived, it was so difficult to wait for the second one. However, the next day, we also planned to visit Pisa. The trip from Florence to Pisa is not a very long one. We started for it by 12 in the noon. So, we decided to head on our walking tour as early as possible in the morning. And do a 3-4 hours walking tour of Florence in the freshness at the start of a new day. Before heading to Pisa later in the noon. While our first walking tour of florence covered the areas around river Arno, this second walking tour of florence was centered around the same side of the river as our accommodation, Palazzo Dei Ciompi.
Just like the last time, we marked our destinations on a google map and started the walking tour of Florence from our apartment. You can find the map at the end of this post. This time, we covered some important historical spots, particularly from renaissance period including Piazza Della Signoria and Piazza Del Duomo to name a few. As we started from the apartment, we went first to Piazza Della Signoria.
Stop1: Piazza Della Signoria
Piazza Della Signoria is a fourteenth centuary L-shaped square in front of Piazzo Vecchio. It is considered one of the most important focal points of the origin of the republic of Florence. Since over centuries it stands witness to a lot of important political events in the history of the republic of Florence and later. Including the return of Medici. The Medici were the first princely dynasty that were thrown out of power and sent into exile. But later they returned back to Florence. And that also not by war or marriage or inheritance. But rather by commerce! You can read into details about the history of Medici and other Florentine rulers here. Also, you can admire the Piazzo Vecchio and several other buildings of historical importance, while standing in the square of Piazza Della Signoria.
Stop2: Piazza Del Duomo
Moving on from Piazza Della Signoria, we arrived at yet another very important landmark. Located right into the heart of the Florence of renaissance, the Cathedral square or the Piazza del Duomo is the center of attraction in Florence. In fact, it is one of the most visited sites in Europe as well as in the whole world. And this square contains some of the most remarkable structures of Florence, including the Florence Cathedral, Opera del Duomo Museum, Canonici’s palace, the Arcivescovile to name a few.
The Florence Cathedral is also known as the Cathedral of Saint Mary of flowers. It is the main church of Florence. It’s as difficult to describe it’s glory in words as it is to capture it’s architectural wonder in a single shot of your camera. The Cathedral opens early in the morning. And mind you, queues can be seen as early as 6 – 7 in the morning at the entrance of this cathedral. The cathedral complex also houses Giotto’s Campanile and the Baptistery.
Giotto’s Campanile & Baptistery
Giotto’s Campanile is one of the most famous campaniles in Florence. Giotto, the famous architect built it. So, it’s name. While the Florence Baptistery, also known as the Baptistery of Saint John is one of the oldest buildings in the city. And it holds the title of a minor basilica now. It’s octagonal structure and huge periphery are the testimony to it’s unique architecture. Together, the three buildings, namely the Florence Cathedral, the Giotto’s Campanile and the Florence Baptistery stand in a complex that is a UNESCO world heritage.
Take a round in front of the Cathedral complex. And then head towards it’s left to a street where lies Galleria Dell’Accademia.
Stop3: Galleria Dell’Accademia
From the Duomo, we took a turn towards the left, entering into a lane to finally arrive at the next spot on this walking tour. So, let’s head to the gallery of the Acedemy of Florence. It is an art museum in the heart of Florence that has on display one of the most sought out creations of Michelangelo – David. David is an example of the perfection of sculpture and art. And thus, is highly admired throughout the world. Without doubt , it is the piece of art that attracts everyone to the Gallery of Academy.
The gallery also has a collection of renaissance paintings. It also displays florentine paintings from the renaissance period. That includes works of several artists apart from Miichelangelo, including Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Pontormo, Andrea del Sarto, Allessando Allori, Orcagna and many others. Many of these magnificent works of art were earlier part of the Medici family’s treasure. Later the last of the Medici family donated these masterpieces to the people of Florence so that the same art could be enjoyed by everyone.
Stop4: Piazza San Marco
Our next stop, Piazza San Marco is yet another city square in Florence. With prominent buildings surrounding it. One of them being Museo Nazionale di San Marco, an art museum with many prominent works of art by great artist like Fra Bartolomeo, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Alesso Baldovinetti, Jacopo Vignali, Bernardino Poccetti and Giovanni Antonio Sogliani. Like many other properties in Europe, the building that houses the museum became a state property in 1866 and later became the museum.
Moving on, San Marco church and convent are another prominent structure standing on the Piazza San Marco. And both of these buildings showcase prominent medieval architecture. Next there is academy of fine arts of Florence, a prominent art gallery. And a few other important places. There are benches in the square where you can sit and rest your feet.
Stop5: Piazza di Santa Maria Novella
FromSan Marco Square, return to Galleria Dell’Accademia. And trace your steps back to the Duomo. Then take a right and keep moving straight ahead on your walking tour of Florence to arrive at Piazza di Santa Maria Novella. It is yet another beautiful square of Florence. At one end of this square stands Basilica of Santa Maria Novella. This is one of the most beautiful churches in Florence. In fact, it is the city’s principal dominican church. Read more about of the rich history of the church here. You can sit here in the square, or even just lay down in the grass lawn, and take rest, watching the big historical buildings that surround the square.
After visiting here, we traced our steps back to the Duomo and from there to our apartment. But not without exploring the lanes near the Duomo a bit. As we approached these lanes, they were abuzz with the early morning tourists. While on the other end, the locals were opening the shutters to their shops, ready to get into business. We walked these lanes, tracing our step back. Here goes our google map for this walking tour of Florence.
You can replace your own accommodation as the starting point of this walking tour and then go through the tour like we did. Do find out some useful tips on how to do a perfect walking tour in Florence, in our post about our first walking tour of florence.
Tips on taking this walking tour of Florence
- For the duomo and the places around it, you must get the entry tickets well in advance. We saw big queues as early as 7:30 in the morning. Also, it will consume a good amount of time. So, plan accordingly
- Keep a bottle of drinking water with you. You can refill it when ever you wish from the fountains.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes.
- If you have a kid with you, consider taking a stroller along.
- Take time, take breaks and take it slow with the walking tour. Otherwise you will exhaust yourself.
- While you go from the Duomo towards your last stop, Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, there are plenty of shops. In case you have been planning on shopping, this is the perfect place for you to do the same.