Although the museums and historical sites in the Italian city of Florence are closed at the moment, you can still explore many of them – as long as you have internet access. Even when you’re self-isolating, social-distancing or unable to travel, you can enjoy and learn about the marvellous exhibits, architecture and collections of these top museums and cultural sites. Here’s a virtual guide to the amazing city of Florence, Italy
Florence: UNESCO World Heritage site
Florence (Firenze in Italian) is in Tuscany, a region in central Italy. The Renaissance city’s beautiful and historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is home to a wealth of outstanding museums, churches, buildings and artworks. The city was ruled by the hugely powerful and wealthy Medici family for most of the period from 1434 – 1737. The Medici’s patronage of artists, architects and scientists had a huge influence on the city and on the Renaissance.
Florence: virtual guide
The Boboli Gardens were designed and laid out in the 16th century under the ownership of the Medici family. One of the most important examples of an Italian garden, today the Boboli Gardens are free to visit. You can explore the architecture and landscape of the Boboli here and see the historic sculptures and fountains here.
Casa Martelli is a Renaissance palace which was owned by a noble family of 18th-century bankers. The Martelli family were patrons of the arts and were closely linked to the Medici. Rooms in the palace are decorated as they were when the Martelli family lived there in the 18th and 19th centuries, and are filled with tapestries and paintings. You can take a virtual tour of Casa Martelli here.
The Medici Chapels are home to some of Michelangelo’s most beautiful sculptures, including his carvings of the reclining figures of Night and Day, and Dawn and Dusk. The chapels form the Medici family mausoleum, and are part of the 15th century Basilica di San Lorenzo. You can watch a video tour of the Medici Chapels here.
The Palazzo Vecchio, also known as Palazzo della Signoria, is the city’s town hall. Constructed at the end of the 13th century, the building was the Florentine Republic’s seat of government in the 14th century. In the19th century it housed the Chamber of Deputies of the Kingdom of Italy. For a 360 virtual tour of the building’s first floor click here and for the second floor click here.
Piazza del Duomo
Florence’s Piazza del Duomo is the city’s heart and is one of the world’s most visited places. The Piazza is home to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistry of San Giovanni, the Crypt of Santa Reparata and the Opera Museum. For a video tour of Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore click here. For a virtual tour of Giotto’s Bell Tower click here. For a virtual tour of Brunelleschi’s Dome click here.
This imposing 14th century palace was bought by the Medici in 1550 as the Grand Ducal residence. It was home to the Court of the King of Italy from 1865. Today the palace is divide into four museums, and is home to the Medici art collection, which includes the largest concentration of paintings by Raphael in the world, as well as works by Titian, Rubens, Tintoretto and Caravaggio. The palace also has a series of rooms recreating the private royal apartments as they were when the Kings of Italy lived here. You can explore the Pitti Palace artworks here.
Santa Maria Novella
The Basilica di Santa Maria Novella dates from the 13th century and is home to a wealth of artistic masterpieces. There are works by Giotto, Masaccio, Ghirlandaio and many other artists. Santa Maria Novella’s distinctive green and white marble facade is one of the most important examples of Florentine Renaissance architecture. You can explore the works of art which are on display at Santa Maria Novella here.
The enormous Palazzo degli Uffizi was built in the 16th century as government offices. Today it’s home to the world’s greatest collection of Italian Renaissance art, which was bequeathed to the city by the Medici family in 1743. Besides this collection, the Ufizzi has a vast and outstanding collection of art, dating as far back as ancient Greece. The works are displayed in chronological order. Highlights include Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Fra Angelico’s Coronation of the Virgin and Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci and Andrea del Verrocchio. You can enjoy the Uffizzi’s works of art here. You can take an angel-themed journey through 12 of the museum’s masterpieces here.
Over to you
Have you ever been to Florence, or would you like to go there? Or are you happy to explore the city remotely? I spent three months there as a student and have visited a few times since. I’d love to go back there one day, but I’m enjoying revisiting it online.
Bookings For You – discount code
Although travel isn’t possible (or advisable) at the moment, if you’re looking forward to being able to visit Italy again, you may be interested in an offer from award-winning travel company Bookings For You.
Bookings For You offer holiday rental villas and apartments in Italy and France to suit every budget, taste and party size. Founder and owner Jo Mackay says that they’re now taking bookings for 2021, and that they’ve adjusted their usual cancellation policy. Jo says: ‘Should guests book and travel not be possible due to the coronavirus pandemic (either their flights are cancelled and so travel to the location is not possible or the location is in lockdown), then the guest would be entitled to a full refund on their stay.’
Jo’s offering a discount to Mums do Travel readers – the code, which you’d need to enter during checkout, is MUMSDOTRAVEL, and the discount varies according to the property (n.b. I’d also receive commission from any bookings using this code).
Bookings For You – Florence villas
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Cynthia Logan says
Wow!! Great Post Gretta, It literally took me to Florence while I sat at home day dreaming about my upcoming holidays when the travel bans are lifted and we can travel again. I would love to travel to Florence in the near future and roam around the Casa Martelli, Palazzo Vecchio, Pitti Palace, Medici Chapels and more. The virtual tours were just fantastic!
Gretta Schifano says
Thanks Cynthia, I’m glad you enjoyed it!