On a recent business trip, a few of us from Room & Board found ourselves with a free day in Florence, Italy. The upside of only having one day is that you know you won’t get to it all, so we stopped at a few must-see tourist destinations and then let ourselves get lost in the city. Literally and figuratively. Thanks to Google Maps and an international data plan, here are our recommendations for how to spend a day in Florence.
See Michelangelo’s David
Standing 17 feet tall, flooded in natural light and flanked by columns, Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia Gallery was well worth the price of admission (about $17 Euros). The Accademia Gallery also houses Michelangelo’s unfinished Prisoners sculptures, which gave me a new appreciation for the meticulous detail required to sculpt something out of marble.
Visit the Duomo
Florence’s most famous church and recognizable landmark will undoubtedly have a line around the block to walk the stairs to the frescoed dome, but if you’re short on time, taking in the pink, white and green marble exterior is impressive by itself. It’s also free to enter the Duomo and see Vasari’s Last Judgment painted on the dome’s interior from below. When your neck gets tired, turn your attention to the incredible marble floor beneath your feet.
Shop for leather goods
Italy is famous for its leather and Florence is filled with shops where you’ll find gorgeous purses, jackets and shoes. For a look behind the goods, visit Scuola del Cuoio Firenze, Florence’s famous leather school. Founded after World War II to provide orphans with practical skills to help them earn a living, the school still trains leather artisans today. You can tour the workshop, tucked into the lovely grounds of the Basilica of Santa Croce, and purchase leather keepsakes with meaning.
Have you been to Florence? What other stops would you recommend? If I’m lucky enough to go back, I would dive into this extensive list from Girl in Florence.