The splendid city of Florence, known as the “Cradle of Renaissance”, is considered among the world's most popular destination due to its artistic and historic heritage.
Its compact historic center is a sort of "open-air museum" that offer to all its visitors a taste of art and culture at every street corner. The imposing basilicas, the elegant palaces and majestic squares cannot leave indifferent even the most casual tourists.
If you have decided to visit this city in more depth or, if you have the opportunity to stay there for a period a bit longer than the classic hit-and-run weekend, we highly recommend this list of top 5 (+1) museums to fully embrace the exceptional artistic patrimony of Florence.
1. Uffizi Gallery
This world-famous gallery is one of the most visited places in Italy, with over 1.5 million visitors each year, and among the oldest and most important art museums in Europe.
The Uffizi Gallery is located on the top floor of the Uffizi Palace, a U-shaped majestic building designed in 16thcentury by Giorgio Vasari. In its interior is housed an artistic heritage of inestimable value, with thousands of paintings, from Medieval to contemporary times, inclundig the greatest Renaissance art collections in the world. Of great value is also the collection of ancient statuary, one of the most remarkable and important in the world, including the elegant Medicean Venus.
Wandering through the halls of the gallery you’ll have the opportunity to admire some absolute masterpieces made by the greatest artists of all time, such as Cimabue, Caravaggio, Giotto, Piero della Francesca, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Sandro Botticelli.
The Uffizi Gallery is a must-see for art lovers (but not only), but better to be visited through a guided group tour or, if you want something more intimate and exclusive, a private tour!
2. Galleria dell'Accademia
The Galleria dell'Accademia is the second most visited museum in Florence (the first being the Uffizi Gallery, #1 on this list) and every year is assaulted by thousands and thousands of tourists.
Originally, the building was used as the hospital of San Matteo and as the convent of San Niccolò of Cafaggio, but from the '700 it became the Academy of Fine Arts. The actual gallery was then instituted in 1872, when it was decided to transfer here the David by Michelangelo Buonarotti, taking it away from the dangers of the original location, outdoors in Piazza della Signoria.
The David is considered one of the world's most admired Italian art masterpieces, and the emblem of Florence. A 4-meters tall marble statue, concealing mysteries to be discovered.
However, in addition to the David, there are several other amazing art masterpieces to see in the Accademia Gallery, and you can visit them through a guided group tour or - if you want something more intimate and exclusive - a private tour!
3. Opera del Duomo Museum
In Piazza del Duomo, on the back of the Giotto's Bell Tower, you can find the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (Museum of the Works of the Cathedral). Here are housed several extraordinary original works of art, originally created for the Florence Cathedral and from the Baptistery of Saint John, and removed from there for the sake of preservation.
Opened in 1891, the collection has been declared "one of the world's most important one". Among its most precious pieces are the sculptures of the tower, the Heaven's Gate and North Gate by Lorenzo Ghiberti, the Mary Magdalene by Donatello and the Pietà intended by Michelangelo for his own tomb.
A section is also dedicated to the construction of Brunelleschi's Dome and another to the history of the façade, dating back from the 14th to the 19th century.
Make sure not to miss this incredible museum, joining guided tour that includes also a skip-the-line access to the Cathedral and the Baptistery, and a free climb of the Brunelleschi Dome and the Giotto's Bell Tower.
4. Palatine Gallery (Pitti Palace)
You can find this extraordinary museum in the Pitti Palace, among the largest and most stunning examples of architecture in Florence.
Built in 1457 on a design of Filippo Brunelleschi, most important architect in Renaissance times, this building is an authentic icon of the wellness and the power of Florence at the time. The original building was much smaller, but in 1549, the Medici family bought the palace making it their principal private residence, expanding its architectural structure and hosting several art galleries in its interior.
The most important of those is certainly the Palatine Gallery, which occupies the entire left wing of the first floor. Today, it houses more than 500 artworks, mostly Renaissance paintings, all of which were part of the vast collection of the Medicis. Some of the greatest artists whose works can be seen in the Palatine Gallery include Raphael, Titian and Caravaggio, as well as other European and Italian masters.
We highly recommend a guided tour of the Pitti Palace to visit this gallery and explore its splendid rooms decorated with frescoes and stuccoes in Baroque style.
5. National Museum of Bargello
Among the most important museums in Florence, the Bargello Museum is located in the splendid homonymous palace, which already alone is worth a visit, a few steps from Palazzo Vecchio. For nearly three centuries, this building was used as a prison,before the ruling Medici family turned it into a police headquarters.
Established in 1865, the Bargello Museum was one of the first museums in Italy, hosting a collection of statues of priceless value. The dozens of art-works, including sculptures and busts on display at the Bargello were realized by some of the most famous Renaissance artists, such as Michelangelo, Donatello, Verrochio, and Giambologna.
Among the most important attractions of the museum are the works by Donatello, including the early marble David and the bronze David, surrounded by some works of his pupils, such as Desiderio da Settignano and Antonio Rossellino. The Renaissance collection an extraordinary group of Madonna with Child.
(+1). Museum of San Marco Monastery
The National Museum of San Marco, which is unfortunately missed by many tourists, is housed in the monumental part of an old Dominican convent, located in the homonymous square, in central Florence.
The monastery is in itself is an architectural masterpiece, designed by Michelozzo, and a building of great historical importance. Don't miss a walk into the monastery's cloister and convent, permeated by a timeless atmosphere of calm and serenity.
The museum is in the oldest part of the building,which has remained relatively unchanged since the 15th century. Its interior hosts the world's best collection of artworks by Beato Angelico, an Early Renaissance painter and monk, who lived in this monastery for several years.
The halls of the Monastery house his best paintings and frescoes on walls, as well as artworks made by other artists. You can also visit the cells where Fra Girolamo Savonarola lived,therousing Dominican preacher who had a great following in Florence at the end of the 15th century, condemned by the Pope for heresy as he accused the church of being corrupt.