• Visit the Palazzo Vecchio (Piazza della Signoria, open daily except Thurs afternoon, €10)
Originally government offices, the Palazzo Vecchio became a palace in the 16th century, as the residence of Cosimo I. The Salone dei Cinquento (Hall of the 500) is immense and covered in paintings and frescoes. The museum has some treasures including a Dante death mask, the Chapel of Eleonora and the Hall of Maps.
• Wander across the Ponte Vecchio
One of the most tourist congested parts of Florence…. but worth a look anyway. Admire the jewellery in shop windows, look up at the incredible Vasari corridor connecting the Palazzo Vecchio to the Palazzo Pitti, enjoy the river views and soak up the atmosphere…. then get away quickly!
• Marvel at the treasures in the Palazzo Pitti (Piazza dei Pitti, closed Monday, €13)
Near the Ponte Vecchio is the huge Pitti Palace, also a Medici residence at one time, though the exterior is plain and austere. There are several museums inside and single or combined tickets are available. The Palatine Gallery comprises many impressive works of art in richly decorated rooms. Check out the Salone Bianca, a drawing room in shades of white; the Room of Allegories with its original ceiling frescoes; the richly decorated Poccetti Gallery; the Room of Apollo and the Green Room. The Royal Apartments are also open to the public. There is also a costume gallery, silver museum and ‘modern’ 18th to 20th century art museum.
• Relax in Il Giardino di Boboli (Palazzo Pitti, open daily except first and last Monday, €7)
I did not have time to visit these famous gardens but even a glimpse of them looked very inviting!
• Take in the vista of Florence from the Forte di Belvedere (closed Monday, free entry)
This star-shaped fortress built in 1590 offers a panoramic view of the city. The exhibition Human by Anthony Gormley is currently installed in the grounds and is fascinating.
TO BE CONTINUED…