How to spend 3 days in Florence including two destinations in Tuscany
Florence or Firenze is this Italian city that you can’t really describe with words, they will never do it justice. You have to be there to grasp what I mean exactly. But you will still get a feel of how exceptional your trip to Florence will be based on this post.
If you are planning to visit Florence, this post is for you. From my experience, 3 days and 3 nights in Florence are worth it. I will tell you how my family and I covered almost everything then you choose the activities that suit you best. Spoiler alert! We managed to visit two other areas in Tuscany while in Florence.
1- Piazza della Repubblica
When we reached Florence and checked in the hotel, we headed to the street to start discovering the city on foot. Our first stop was Piazza della Repubblica, a lovely large square with many cafes and restaurants. The Florentine positive vibes in this pleasant piazza will keep you coming back to it during your stay in Florence.
2- Piazza della Signoria
Next, we moved to Piazza della Signoria, where all the magic awaits. We were dazzled by the extraordinary pieces of art that surrounded us, not knowing in which direction to look first. To describe Piazza della Signoria as an open-air museum is an understatement because it is much more than that. The actual works of art are palpable evidence for an extremely rich period in history into which you feel propelled once you stand in that “time capsule” square.
Certainly, I was struck by Neptune statue, the focal point of the famous Fountain of Neptune. Standing tall, proud and victorious, the perfect Roman god of the sea intimidated me. It is to symbolize Tuscan victories at sea that Fontana di Nettuno was created by Bartolomeo Ammannati in 1575.
I looked around for the famous Michelangelo’s David statue. I knew that the replica of the original one is displayed outdoor whereas the original one had been moved inside the Galleria dell’Accademia after being subject to acts of vandalism. It was guarding the entrance of Palazzo Vecchio, along with the statue of Hercules. Wow! So much to take in.
3- The Uffizi Gallery
Adjacent to Piazza della Signoria, lies one of the oldest and most famous art museums in the world, the Uffizi Gallery. Why so important? Well, the abundance of masterpieces in this priceless museum feels like an explosion of exquisite creativity by great minds.
Home to outstanding collections of ancient sculptures and paintings, from the Middle Ages to the Modern period, the Uffizi Gallery is particularly special for boasting Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus”, an icon of the Italian Renaissance. Another important painting showcased in this museum is Leonardo da Vinci’s “Annunciation” painting.
4- Piazzale Michelangelo
Certainly, it is wonderful to discover every corner of Florence up close, but it is absolutely a must to see the breathtaking panoramic view of this magical city from atop a hill. Not any hill: the one where the third statue of David in Florence is located, in Piazzale Michelangelo. From this spot you get a perfect bird’s-eye view of Florence’s landmarks and the beautiful Arno River, which makes it one of the most visited ones in the city.
How to end such an extraordinary day in Florence? Stay on that same hill and have a fine dining meal with a glass of wine on the terrace of La Loggia, the historical restaurant across the street.
1- The Duomo Complex
Probably the most iconic landmark in Florence is the Duomo complex, comprised of the following:
- The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore):
It is the third largest cathedral in the world – after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London – and has a one-of-a-kind dome. Designed and built by Fillipo Brunelleschi, the dome is the largest masonry dome in the world.
- The Campanile or Giotto’s Bell Tower (Campanile di Giotto):
Designed by Giotto, the Campanile is a free-standing bell tower, built in the Gothic style. It offers a beautiful panoramic view from its large terrace, 84.7 meters above ground.
- The Baptistry of St. John (Battistero di San Giovanni):
The octagonal baptistry is one of the most ancient churches in Florence. It is best known for its bronze doors, created by Andrea Pisano (south doors) and Lorenzo Ghiberti (north and east doors). The doors in the eastern portal are the ones that Michelangelo described as the “Gates of Paradise” and ever since this is what they have been called.
On the inside, the ceiling is marvelously decorated with gold mosaics showing scenes from Genesis and the Last Judgment and dominated by a massive illustration of Christ.
2- Ponte Vecchio on the Arno River
The Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in Florence. It used to be a meat and seafood market, but when Florence became popular for its Renaissance culture the bridge was transformed into an elegant market; Ponte Vecchio became a shopping destination for gold and silver lovers. As a tourist, you would want to walk on that historical bridge at sunset, enjoy the best view of the Arno River and take in the enchanting vibes.
1- The Boboli Gardens of the Pitti Palace
The Palazzo Pitti is Florence’s most important palace for many reasons. Its first owner was Luca Pitti, but the powerful and wealthy Medici family bought it around 1550 and extended it, then created the magnificent Boboli gardens.
Pitti Palace became the residence of the Italian kings from 1864 till 1871, when Florence was the capital of Italy, and in 1919, King Victor Emmanuel III gave it to the city. Today, the Palazzo Pitti comprises various art galleries housing invaluable collections of works by the likes of Raphael, Titian and Tintoretto.
Since my family and I had thoroughly explored the Uffizi gallery, we decided to skip the inside of the palace and dedicate a couple of hours to the splendid Boboli Gardens. Spread over 111 acres, the gardens constitute a historical park in Florence, being one of the first examples that inspired many European courts.
A massive human face statue by sculptor Igor Mitoraj named “Tindaro Screpolato”
With about one million visitors a year, this beautiful park will amaze you with every step you take. It is filled with sculptures and fountains that you discover while strolling the different wonderful paths and alleys of various types of trees.
2- Pinocchio Park in Collodi
Our next destination was about an hour’s drive from Florence. We headed to Collodi, to visit the Pinocchio Park (click here for more information).
3- Pisa Leaning Tower
Being in Tuscany, I wouldn’t have missed visiting one of the most iconic landmarks in Italy, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. After Collodi, we moved to the city of Pisa, eager to see with our own eyes the famous extraordinary tower.
We parked the car and walked towards the Square of Miracles or Campo dei Miracoli where the cathedral complex stands:
- The beautiful cathedral known as Duomo di Pisa
- The largest baptistry in Italy designed based on both the Romanesque and Gothic style
- The baffling Leaning Tower
- Campo Santo, the cemetery
I have to admit that the moment I laid my eyes on the Pisa Tower from afar, it looked like it was peeking from behind the cathedral and my heart skipped a beat. I was finally witnessing that phenomenon and it felt great and surreal at the same time. No wonder the place is called Square of the Miracles because there is something magical and enchanting about the whole area.