Galleria degli Uffizi
Home to the world’s greatest collection of Italian Renaissance art, Florence’s premier gallery occupies the vast U-shaped Palazzo degli Uffizi, built between 1560 and 1580 to house government offices. The collection, bequeathed to the city by the Medici family in 1743 on condition that it never leave Florence, contains some of Italy’s best-known paintings, including Piero della Francesco’s profile portaits of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino and rooms full of masterpieces by Sandro Botticelli.
Basilica di Santa Maria Novella
The striking green-and-white marble facade of 13th- to 15th-century Basilica di Santa Maria Novella fronts an entire monastical complex, comprising romantic church cloisters and a frescoed chapel. The basilica itself is a treasure chest of artistic masterpieces, climaxing with frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio. The lower section of the basilica’s striped marbled facade is transitional from Romanesque to Gothic; the upper section and the main doorway (1456–70) were designed by Leon Battista Alberti. Book tickets in advance online to cut queuing time.
This fortress palace, with its crenellations and 94m-high tower, was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio between 1298 and 1314 for the signoria (city government). It remains the seat of the city’s power, home to the mayor’s office and the municipal council. From the top of the Torre d’Arnolfo (tower), you can revel in unforgettable rooftop views. Inside, Michelangelo’s Genio della Vittoria (Genius of Victory) sculpture graces the Salone dei Cinquecento, a magnificent painted hall created for the city’s 15th-century ruling Consiglio dei Cinquecento (Council of 500).
Museo di San Marco
At the heart of Florence’s university area sits Chiesa di San Marco and an adjoining 15th-century Dominican monastery where both gifted painter Fra’ Angelico (c 1395–1455) and the sharp-tongued Savonarola piously served God.
Today the monastery, aka one of Florence’s most spiritually uplifting museums, showcases the work of Fra’ Angelico. After centuries of being known as ‘Il Beato Angelico’ (literally ‘The Blessed Angelic One’) or simply ‘Il Beato’ (The Blessed), the Renaissance’s most blessed religious painter was made a saint by Pope John Paul II in 1984.