Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance, beckons visitors with its unparalleled tapestry of art, history, and culture. Nestled in the heart of Tuscany, this city is a veritable treasure trove of masterpieces, from Michelangelo’s David to Brunelleschi’s iconic Duomo. Embarking on a Florence walking tour is like stepping into a living museum, where Gothic palaces meet grand basilicas, and charming piazzas offer a glimpse into the city’s soul. This post includes a map for a self-guided free walking tour of Florence. Enjoy your walk! 🙂
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Why Choose This Free Self-Guided Florence Walking Tour?
Florence is a smallish city and best navigated on foot; most major sights are within easy walking distance. This free self-guided Florence walking tour itinerary is perfect if you are short on time and trying to save some money.
With our free map, you can follow the route quite easily without hiring an expensive guide for the day.
The tour will take you past most of the city’s major attractions, landmark public buildings, places of worship, cultural venues, restaurants, and cafes. You’ll also learn a few lesser-known facts about Florence along the way.
The tour will take you through Florence’s serene San Marco, bustling San Lorenzo, elegant Santa Croce, historic Centro Storico, and bohemian Oltrarno.
Florence Walking Tour Itinerary
The free self-guided Florence walking tour covers a total distance of approximately 6.39 kilometers (3.97 miles). The tour starts at the San Marco Convent and terminates at Ponte Santa Trinita. Of course, you can do this walking tour the other way around if it suits you better.
The streets and sidewalks of Florence are predominantly covered in cobblestones or flagstones, which can be tough on your feet, soles, and joints over time. It’s advisable to opt for sturdy walking shoes or sneakers rather than loafers or pumps for comfort. Unless you’re adept at navigating stone surfaces, there may be better choices than wearing dress shoes or high heels.
Feel free to take a break if you feel tired along the way. I have included some cafés and restaurants on the map where you can take a breather and grab a bite. On this Florence walking tour, you will see:
- San Marco Convent
- Piazza San Marco
- Hospital of Innocents
- Accademia Gallery
- Riccardi Medici Palace
- Basilica di San Lorenzo
- Central Market
- Basilica of Santa Maria Novella
- Piazza di Santa Maria Novella
- Giotto’s Bell Tower
- Baptistery of St. John
- Via dei Calzaiuoli
- Piazza della Repubblica
- Strozzi Palace
- Orsanmichele Church and Museum
- Palazzo Davanzati
- Porcellino Fountain
- Piazza della Signoria
- Loggia dei Lanzi
- Palazzo Vecchio
- Bargello National Museum
- Piazza di Santa Croce
- Basilica of Santa Croce
- All’Antico Vinaio
- Galileo Museum
- Uffizi Gallery
- Ponte Vecchio
- Pitti Palace
- Palazzo Bianca Cappello
- Basilica di Santo Spirito
- Ponte Santa Trinità
1. San Marco Convent
Start your Florence walking tour at the San Marco Convent, a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture and art, which is a testament to the city’s rich cultural heritage. Founded in the 12th century and later restructured by Michelozzo under the patronage of Cosimo de’ Medici in the 15th century, this convent is renowned for its tranquility and spiritual ambiance.
What makes San Marco truly special is its stellar collection of frescoes by Fra Angelico, a Dominican monk and early Renaissance artist. These frescoes, located in the monks’ cells, corridors, and the Chapter House, are celebrated for their serene beauty and delicate use of color, epitomizing the spirit of early Renaissance art.
The highlight of San Marco is undoubtedly the cell of Fra Angelico himself, adorned with the famous “Annunciation” fresco, a work of profound beauty and simplicity. Additionally, the convent houses a museum featuring a range of religious artworks, including manuscripts and liturgical objects, offering a unique glimpse into Florence’s religious and artistic history.
Fra Angelico was moved to tears as he painted the image of the Crucifixion of Christ in the Chapter House of the San Marco Convent.
The combination of peaceful cloisters, sublime artwork, and historical significance makes the San Marco Convent a must-visit for anyone seeking to immerse themselves in the essence of Florentine spirituality and art.
Your next stop is the Piazza San Marco (2) which lies opposite the San Marco Convent.
2. Piazza San Marco
Piazza San Marco is the first of several public squares you will encounter on this Florence walking tour.
It is a hub of cultural and academic life, known for its vibrant atmosphere and historic significance. The square is dominated by the facade of the San Marco Basilica, a beautiful example of Renaissance architecture.
This piazza is special for its blend of lively Florentine street life, with students from the nearby university mingling among locals and tourists, and for its proximity to the aforementioned San Marco Museum and Convent.
Your next stop is the Hospital of Innocents (3). Head southeast onto P.za della SS. Annunziata. You’ll be walking a distance of 250 m.
3. Hospital of Innocents
The Hospital of Innocents (Ospedale degli Innocenti) in Florence, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi in the 15th century, stands as a hallmark of Renaissance architecture.
This “hospital” is named in reference to the Massacre of the Innocents by Herod, as recounted in the Bible following the birth of Jesus. It opened in 1444 as the first orphanage in Europe, and it symbolizes the humanitarian aspect of the Renaissance, focusing on social welfare and care for children.
Characterized by its symmetrical layout, the façade features a harmonious arcade with a series of elegant round arches and iconic blue terracotta medallions by Andrea della Robbia, showcasing infants in swaddling clothes.
What makes the Hospital of Innocents a must-see is its combination of architectural beauty, historical significance, and its role in the evolution of child care.
The onsite museum, displaying art and documents related to the history of the institution and the children it sheltered, offers a poignant glimpse into Florence’s commitment to social and humanitarian causes through the centuries.
Your next stop is the Accademia Gallery (4). Head south-west on P.za della SS. Annunziata and continue onto Via dei Fibbiai. Then Turn right onto Via degli Alfani and turn right onto Via Ricasoli. You’ll be walking a distance of 350 m.
4. Accademia Gallery
The Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell’Accademia), originally founded in the 18th century as a teaching facility for art students, is undoubtedly one of the top 10 Florence attractions. It is now one of the city’s premier museums and a pivotal destination for art lovers worldwide.
This gallery’s fame largely stems from its housing of Michelangelo’s David, arguably the most famous statue in the world. This colossal Classical statue (5.2 m/17 ft) depicts the biblical hero who killed the giant Goliath.
Carved from a single block of marble, it exemplifies Michelangelo’s mastery in depicting the human form with anatomical precision and emotional intensity. I can attest that seeing it live is something truly special – the intricacy of the veins in David’s muscular arms, the definition in his leg muscles, and the shifting expressions observed from different angles around the statue are indeed remarkable.
Beyond David, the Accademia hosts an impressive collection of Renaissance art, including more works by Michelangelo, such as the unfinished “Prisoners” or “Slaves,” which provide a fascinating insight into his sculpting process. These powerful figures seem to struggle for release from the raw marble, giving visitors a unique view of Michelangelo’s approach to sculpting.
The gallery also showcases a rich assortment of paintings from the 13th to the 16th century, with works by artists like Uccello, Ghirlandaio, and Botticelli. The Florentine Gothic art, represented in the form of panel paintings and gold-ground altarpieces, offers a visual narrative of Florence’s artistic evolution.
Overall, the Accademia Gallery is not just a repository of art but a journey through the Renaissance, making it an essential visit for anyone wishing to delve deep into the cultural heart of Florence.
Your next stop is the Riccardi Medici Palace (5). Head south-west on Via Ricasoli, turn right onto Via degli Alfani, and then turn left onto Via Camillo Cavour. You’ll be walking a distance of 325 m.
5. Riccardi Medici Palace
The Riccardi Medici Palace (Palazzo Medici-Riccardi) in Florence, originally built for the powerful Medici family in the 15th century, is a splendid example of Renaissance architecture. Designed by Michelozzo, the palace reflects the wealth and influence of the Medici, combining robustness and elegance. Its facade, made of rustic stone, exudes a sense of power and stability, while the interior courtyards display refined beauty.
What makes the palace particularly special is the Magi Chapel, the oldest chapel to survive in a private Florentine palace. Its walls are adorned with vibrant and detailed frescoes that depict the extended Journey of the Magi to see the Christ child, who’s being adored by Mary in the altarpiece.
Inside, visitors can explore sumptuous rooms, including the grand hall and private apartments, which are richly decorated and reflect the luxurious lifestyle of the Medici family.
The palace also hosts a collection of Renaissance art and sculptures, making it a key site for understanding Florence’s history and the legacy of its most influential family.
Your next stop is the Basilica di San Lorenzo (6). Head south-west on Via Camillo Cavour and turn right onto Via de’ Gori. You’ll be walking a distance of 125 m.
6. Basilica di San Lorenzo
The Basilica di San Lorenzo is one of the major sightseeing attractions in Florence. One of the city’s oldest churches, it is a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture and a vital piece of Florentine history.
The church was originally consecrated in 393 and was rebuilt in the 15th century, with Filippo Brunelleschi leading the redesign, marking a turning point in architectural history. The church’s facade, interestingly, remains unfinished, giving it a distinct, rustic charm that contrasts with its refined interior.
The famed Medici Chapels make the Basilica di San Lorenzo complex a Florence must-see. Designed as the final resting place for members of the Medici lineage, these chapels are remarkable for their architectural grandeur and artistic significance.
The New Sacristy, designed by Michelangelo, stands as a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. Its design harmoniously blends architecture and sculpture, creating a space that is both a mausoleum and a breathtaking work of art.
Michelangelo’s sculptures adorning the tombs of Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici, notably the allegorical figures of Night, Day, Dawn, and Dusk, are celebrated for their expressive beauty and profound symbolism. The sculptures provide a stunning contrast to the chapel’s geometrically precise architecture, showcasing Michelangelo’s unparalleled ability to capture human emotion in marble.
The larger Chapel of the Princes, an opulent octagonal mausoleum, displays a different, more Baroque style. It’s adorned with rich decorations, colored marble, and a grand dome, reflecting the Medici’s wealth and power.
Visiting the Medici Chapels offers not only a glimpse into the artistic genius of Michelangelo but also an understanding of the Medici family’s impact on Florence’s political, cultural, and artistic landscape.
Your next stop is the Central Market (7). Head north on Piazza di San Lorenzo and continue onto Via del Canto dei Nelli. You’ll be walking a distance of 250 m.
7. Central Market
The Central Market (Mercato Centrale), inaugurated in 1874, stands as a vibrant testament to Florence’s rich culinary and commercial heritage.
Designed by Giuseppe Mengoni, the architect behind Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the market is a fine example of Italian iron and glass architecture, reflecting the industrial innovation of the 19th century. Its structure, characterized by a spacious, airy interior and a striking iron and glass roof, was a modern marvel of its time, blending functionality with aesthetic appeal.
The Mercato Centrale has been a focal point for locals and tourists alike, seeking the freshest Tuscan produce, meats, cheeses, and other culinary delights. The ground floor, with its traditional market stalls, exudes authenticity, offering a glimpse into the daily life and gastronomic traditions of Florence.
The upper floor, a more recent addition, hosts a variety of eateries and artisanal shops, making it a culinary hub that bridges traditional flavors with contemporary dining experiences.
The Mercato Centrale remains a lively and colorful place, capturing the essence of Florence’s bustling urban life and its deep-rooted love for fine food and fresh ingredients.
Your next stop is the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella (8). Head south-east on Via dell’Ariento, turn right onto Via Sant’Antonino, and continue onto Piazza dell’Unità Italiana. Then turn left onto Via degli Avelli and turn right onto P.za di Santa Maria Novella. You’ll be walking a distance of 550 m.
8. Basilica of Santa Maria Novella
The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, a stunning exemplar of Florentine Gothic architecture, stands as one of the most significant landmarks in Florence.
Completed in the mid-14th century, the church’s façade, designed by Leon Battista Alberti in the 15th century, masterfully blends Gothic and early Renaissance elements. Its harmonious use of geometric shapes and colored marble creates a visually striking frontage that has captivated visitors for centuries.
The interior of Santa Maria Novella is a treasure trove of art and history, making it a must-visit in Florence.
The Tornabuoni Chapel, adorned with frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio, is one of the highlights. These frescoes depict scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist, showcasing the artistic richness of the Renaissance.
Another noteworthy feature is Masaccio’s ‘Trinity,’ one of the first known paintings to demonstrate perfect linear mathematical perspective, a groundbreaking technique in the early Renaissance.
The church also houses a diverse collection of artworks, including Giotto’s Crucifix, Filippino Lippi’s frescoes, and Brunelleschi’s Crucifix, each contributing to the basilica’s reputation as a gallery of Renaissance art. The exquisite stained glass windows, the Spanish Chapel with its vibrant frescoes, and the serene cloisters further enrich the visitor experience.
Your next stop is the Piazza di Santa Maria Novella (9) which is opposite the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella.
9. Piazza di Santa Maria Novella
The Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, dating back to the 13th century in Florence, has long been a central hub of social and religious activity. Originally a space for Dominican processions and gatherings, it later became a venue for public events, including festivals and tournaments.
The piazza’s layout was redefined in the 16th century, and it has been adorned with various notable sculptures and architectural elements. Renowned for its harmonious blend of Renaissance and Gothic architecture, the piazza exudes historical charm.
It’s a popular gathering spot, offering a picturesque backdrop with its elegant façades and bustling atmosphere. This square also hosts events and markets, making it a lively intersection of cultural, social, and tourist activities in the heart of Florence.
Your next stop is the Duomo (10). Head onto right onto Via dei Banchi, turn left onto Via dei Rondinelli, and turn right onto Via de’ Cerretani. Then continue straight onto Piazza di San Giovanni and turn right at Via de’ Martelli/Via Martelli. You’ll be walking a distance of 500 m.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, commonly known as the Duomo of Florence, is a marvel of Italian architecture and a symbol of the city. The Duomo’s fame lies not only in its architectural brilliance but also in its representation of the wealth and power of Florence during the Renaissance.
The cathedral is renowned for its grandeur and scale, standing as one of Italy’s largest churches.
Its construction began in 1296, designed in the Gothic style by Arnolfo di Cambio. Its façade, completed in the 19th century in a Gothic Revival style, adds to its magnificence.
However, the most striking feature of the Duomo is its magnificent dome, engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi and completed in 1436. This dome, an unparalleled achievement of its time, remains one of the most significant architectural feats of the Renaissance.
Brunelleschi’s dome was revolutionary, constructed without the use of traditional wooden frameworks, showcasing his ingenuity and understanding of architectural principles.
It spans 45 meters (148 feet) and provides an awe-inspiring interior space. The exterior is equally impressive, with its intricate marble panels in various shades of green and pink, bordered by white.
The intricate marble façade and the magnificent dome provide a perfect backdrop for stunning Instagram-worthy shots.
Climbing the Duomo is one of the must-do Florence bucket list experiences that offers both a physical challenge and a unique historical journey, culminating in one of the most breathtaking views of the city.
Your next stop is Giotto’s Bell Tower (11) which is right beside the Duomo.
11. Giotto’s Bell Tower
Giotto’s Bell Tower (Campanile di Giotto), standing adjacent to the Duomo in Florence, is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and a testament to the artistic genius of its creator, Giotto di Bondone.
Construction of the bell tower began in 1334, with Giotto appointed as the chief architect. Although Giotto passed away in 1337, with only the lower part completed, the project was continued by successive architects, including Andrea Pisano and Francesco Talenti.
The tower stands approximately 85 meters (279 feet) tall and is renowned for its rich decorative elements and the harmony of its proportions. It is adorned with intricate sculptures and reliefs (many now replaced by replicas, with the originals housed in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo) and covered in a pattern of colored marble that echoes the design of the Duomo, creating a visual unity.
Its fame arises from its breathtaking façade, comprised of polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink, bordered by white. I love how the detailed craftsmanship is evident in the geometric patterns and biblical storytelling in the reliefs.
The bell tower features seven bells and offers panoramic views of Florence and the surrounding Tuscan countryside from the top.
Your next stop is the Baptistery of St. John (12) which stands diagonally opposite Giotto’s Bell Tower.
12. Baptistery of St. John
Next up on this Florence walking tour is the Baptistery of St. John (Battistero di San Giovanni), one of the city’s architectural and cultural gems. Dating back to the 4th or 5th century, the awe-inspiring baptistery stands in the Piazza del Duomo, across from the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Giotto’s Bell Tower.
The Baptistery is one of Florence’s oldest, most venerated buildings. It was the place where all Florentines, including notable figures like Dante Alighieri and members of the Medici family, were baptized.
It’s renowned for its octagonal shape, a common form for baptisteries in Italy, symbolizing regeneration and eternal life. The building’s exterior is clad in white and green marble, similar to the nearby cathedral and bell tower, creating a harmonious and visually stunning ensemble.
The Baptistery’s most striking feature is its three sets of artistically famed bronze Renaissance doors decorated with panels crafted by Lorenzo Ghiberti. While the north and south doors are notable in their own right, it is the east doors that have captured the imagination of the world for their unrivaled beauty and artistic importance.
These doors were created by Lorenzo Ghiberti over a span of 27 years, from 1425 to 1452, and are renowned for their technical innovation and artistic beauty. They consist of ten panels, each depicting a scene from the Old Testament in intricate relief, showcasing stories such as the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah, and the life of Moses.
It’s hardly surprising that these doors earned one of art history’s most esteemed accolades from an artist famously sparing with compliments: Michelangelo proclaimed their beauty to be so extraordinary that they were fitting to be the “Gates of Paradise.” They’ve been known as the Gates of Paradise ever since.
The original panels are preserved in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo to protect them from damage.
The interior of the Baptistery of St. John in Florence is renowned for its stunning Byzantine mosaics, which cover the dome and date back to the 13th century. These intricate mosaics, predominantly in gold, depict various biblical scenes, with the most striking being the Last Judgment.
Your next stop is Via dei Calzaiuoli (13). Head south towards Piazza di San Giovanni and you’ll be on Via dei Calzaiuoli.
13. Via dei Calzaiuoli
Via dei Calzaiuoli, one of Florence’s most central and bustling streets, boasts a rich history that mirrors the city’s evolution. Stretching from Piazza del Duomo to Piazza della Signoria, this street has been a vital thoroughfare since medieval times.
Historically, it was a hub for craftsmen and merchants, particularly shoemakers (calzaiuoli), from whom it derives its name. Unlike many medieval streets which were narrow and winding, Via dei Calzaiuoli was designed to be wider and straighter, facilitating trade and public gatherings.
Today, Via dei Calzaiuoli remains a vibrant artery, lined with shops, cafes, and historic buildings, connecting key landmarks. It encapsulates the commercial vitality and the architectural charm of Florence, making it a lively blend of the past and the present.
Your next stop is the Piazza della Repubblica (14). Head west on Via degli Speziali towards Via dei Medici. You’ll be walking a distance of 150 m.
14. Piazza della Repubblica
Located in the heart of Florence, Piazza della Repubblica is a grand square that encapsulates the city’s rich history. Throughout the Middle Ages, this area was the bustling center of the city, known as the Mercato Vecchio, or the Old Market.
It was filled with market stalls, workshops, and labyrinthine streets, surrounded by prominent buildings and towers. However, the late 19th and early 20th centuries saw dramatic changes as part of the Risanamento project, a period of major urban renewal.
The resulting Piazza della Repubblica is an expansive, rectangular square, surrounded by imposing and elegant buildings in the Neoclassical and Art Nouveau styles. Its most notable feature is the Arcone, a triumphal arch bearing an inscription that commemorates the controversial redevelopment of the square.
The square is a lively hub of activity, lined with historic cafes that have been frequented by writers and artists over the years, making them significant for Italy’s cultural and literary history.
In the center of the piazza stands a carousel, adding a whimsical charm and making the square particularly popular among families and children. Street performers, artists, and musicians often entertain visitors, adding to the vibrant atmosphere.
Florence served as the capital of Italy for a brief but significant period, from 1865 to 1871. During its tenure as the capital, Florence underwent significant urban development. The city modernized its infrastructure, expanded its streets, and constructed new buildings. Florence’s role as the Italian capital was relatively short-lived, however. In 1871, following the capture of Rome from the Papal States, the capital was moved to Rome.
Your next stop is the Strozzi Palace (15). Head west on Piazza della Repubblica and continue onto Via degli Strozzi. You’ll be walking a distance of 180 m.
15. Strozzi Palace
The Strozzi Palace (Palazzo Strozzi), constructed between 1489 and 1538, is a prime example of Renaissance architecture in Florence. The palace was commissioned by Filippo Strozzi, a wealthy Florentine banker and a prominent figure in the city.
His family, the Strozzis, were rivals of the powerful Medici family and sought to demonstrate their wealth and influence by constructing this grand residence.
The palace was built on a monumental scale, requiring the demolition of several buildings to accommodate its footprint. It was designed by Benedetto da Maiano and later Simone del Pollaiolo and is renowned for its majestic, fortress-like appearance, characterized by its rusticated stone facade and the grandeur of its design.
Its architecture features a spacious courtyard which is surrounded by an elegant arcade. The palace’s exterior is notable for its symmetry and the harmonious proportions of its windows and doors, set within the massive stone walls.
The cornice crowning the building is one of the largest in Florence and adds to its imposing character. Keep an eye out for the authentic Renaissance-era torch-holders, lamps, and horse-tethering rings that embellish the corners and façades.
Throughout its history, the Strozzi Palace has witnessed various uses. In the 20th century, it was seized by the Fascist regime and later served as the headquarters for the Allied Command during the Second World War.
Today, the Strozzi Palace hosts temporary art exhibitions, cultural events, and conferences, making it a vibrant center of contemporary cultural life in Florence.
Your next stop is the Orsanmichele Church and Museum (16). Backtrack on Via degli Strozzi and Piazza della Repubblica and finally turn right onto Via dei Calzaiuoli. You’ll be walking a distance of 400 m.
16. Orsanmichele Church and Museum
Orsanmichele Church and Museum (Chiesa e Museo di Orsanmichele) in Florence boasts a unique history and architectural design, reflecting the city’s medieval past. Originally built as a grain market in the late 13th century, this building was transformed into a church by the 14th century, dedicated to Saint Michael, the Archangel.
Architecturally, Orsanmichele is a striking blend of Gothic and Renaissance elements. The building’s exterior is a marvel, characterized by its elegant, vertically structured Gothic façade.
Each of its fourteen niches hosts a statue representing a patron saint of the powerful guilds of Florence. These statues, crafted by master artists like Donatello, Ghiberti, and Brunelleschi, are monumental in the history of art, showcasing both the religious fervor and the wealth of the guilds.
The interior of Orsanmichele reveals a more simplistic, spiritual atmosphere, with its high, slender columns and a sense of verticality typical of Gothic architecture. On the upper floors, the museum displays the original statues from the exterior niches, offering a closer view of these masterpieces.
Your next stop is Palazzo Davanzati (17). Head south on Via dei Calzaiuoli and turn right onto Via Porta Rossa. You’ll be walking a distance of 250 m.
17. Palazzo Davanzati
Palazzo Davanzati is one of the best examples of a medieval Florentine home, offering a unique glimpse into the domestic life of the wealthy merchant class in the 14th century. The palace, which dates back to the mid-1300s, was purchased by the Davanzati family in the 16th century, who owned it until the early 20th century.
Architecturally, the building is a classic example of a medieval Florentine townhouse, featuring a stone façade, multiple floors, and an interior courtyard. Its distinctive features include wooden balconies and the traditional “al fresco” ceilings.
The interior is arranged around a central courtyard, with rooms that showcase period furnishings, frescoes, and intricate tapestries, providing a realistic and immersive historical experience.
One of the main highlights inside the Palazzo Davanzati is the elaborately decorated Sala dei Pappagalli (Parrot Room), named for its frescoes with parrot motifs. The museum also displays a collection of lace and embroidery, illustrating the detailed craftsmanship of the time.
Your next stop is the Porcellino Fountain (18). Head east on Via Porta Rossa, turn right onto Via di Capaccio, and turn left onto Piazza del Mercato Nuovo. You’ll be walking a distance of 160 m.
18. Porcellino Fountain
The Porcellino Fountain (Fontana del Porcellino), one of Florence’s most beloved and whimsical landmarks, is known for its bronze sculpture of a wild boar. The fountain’s history dates back to the 17th century when it was created by Pietro Tacca, a student of Giambologna.
The Porcellino (Italian for “little pig”) is actually a replica of a Hellenistic marble boar and was installed in its current location, the Mercato Nuovo, in the early 1600s. The fountain’s popularity stems from both its artistic merit and the charming tradition associated with it.
Visitors to the fountain often rub the boar’s nose for good luck and to ensure a return to Florence. So, go ahead and try it! Coins are also typically dropped from the boar’s mouth into the grate below, furthering this tradition of luck.
Your next stop is Piazza della Signoria (19). Turn right onto Via Calimala, turn left onto Via Vacchereccia and continue straight. You’ll be walking a distance of 200 m.
19. Piazza della Signoria
Piazza della Signoria, probably the most iconic piazza in Florence, is a grand open-air space that is the epicenter of the city’s rich political and cultural history. This L-shaped square has been a pivotal public space since the 14th century, playing host to significant historical events, political gatherings, and public ceremonies.
The dramatic Bonfire of the Vanities, led by the Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola, took place here in 1497. During this event, thousands of objects considered to be temptations to sin, such as books, art, and luxury goods, were burned in a massive pyre symbolizing a puritanical crusade against secular art and culture during the Renaissance.
The death of Girolamo Savonarola, the Dominican friar and puritanical reformer in Florence, carries a deep irony. He was executed in 1498 in the Piazza della Signoria, the very place where he had previously orchestrated the Bonfire of the Vanities, burning objects he deemed sinful. His end, by hanging and burning, mirrored the fiery fate he had imposed on countless art and luxury items, marking a dramatic and ironic full circle.
What makes Piazza della Signoria famous is its open-air museum atmosphere, featuring an array of statues, including a replica of Michelangelo’s David and the Fountain of Neptune by Bartolomeo Ammannati.
The impressive bronze equestrian statue of Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici is located in the center of Piazza della Signoria. Crafted by the sculptor Giambologna and unveiled in 1594, the statue celebrates Cosimo I, who became the first Grand Duke of Tuscany.
Your next stop is the Loggia dei Lanzi (20) which is on the south side of the Piazza della Signoria.
20. Loggia dei Lanzi
The Loggia dei Lanzi is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Florence. This iconic open-air gallery, constructed between 1376 and 1382 by Benci di Cione and Simone di Francesco Talenti, was originally designed to host public ceremonies of the Florentine Republic.
Its name, “Lanzi,” is believed to derive from the Lanzichenecchi, the Swiss guards who were stationed there in the late 16th century. Architecturally, the loggia is a prime example of the late Gothic style and I love how the structure’s elegance is enhanced by its powerful Corinthian columns and its gracefully vaulted ceiling.
Loggia dei Lanzi is particularly renowned for housing masterpieces such as Benvenuto Cellini’s “Perseus with the Head of Medusa” standing at the front left corner. Cast in bronze, this statue depicts the mythological hero Perseus triumphantly holding up Medusa’s severed head.
The other great work in the Loggia dei Lanzi is Giambologna’s “The Rape of the Sabine Women,” located on the far right of the Loggia. Carved from a single block of marble, it depicts a dramatic moment with intertwined figures, capturing the intensity of the Sabine women’s abduction by Roman soldiers.
Your next stop is Palazzo Vecchio (21) which is on the east side of the Piazza della Signoria.
21. Palazzo Vecchio
The fortress-like Palazzo Vecchio, an iconic symbol of civic power in Florence, stands proudly in Piazza della Signoria. It was constructed between 1299 and 1302 and was based on the designs of Arnolfo di Cambio, the city’s master builder renowned for his Gothic style.
Originally the seat of the Signoria, the ruling body of the Republic of Florence, it later became the town hall and still serves a governmental function today.
Architecturally, the Palazzo Vecchio is a quintessential example of medieval Florentine power architecture, with its massive, rusticated stonework and imposing stature. The 94m-high (308-ft) tower, Torre di Arnolfo, offers panoramic views of Florence and is a notable feature of the city’s skyline.
Inside, the Palazzo Vecchio houses sumptuous chambers and halls, richly decorated with frescoes and artworks. The most famous room is the Salone dei Cinquecento, designed for the Grand Council and decorated with magnificent murals by Vasari.
Other highlights of the Palazzo Vecchio include the elaborately decorated private chambers of the Medici family, such as the Room of the Lilies, featuring frescoes and ceiling art by Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio.
Your next stop is the Bargello National Museum (22). Head onto Via dei Gondi, turn left onto Via dei Leoni, and continue onto Via del Proconsolo. You’ll be walking a distance of 290 m.
22. Bargello National Museum
The Bargello National Museum (Museo Nazionale del Bargello) is undoubtedly one of the major attractions on this self-guided walking tour of Florence. Housed in one of the city’s oldest buildings, the Bargello is a renowned Italian Renaissance sculpture and decorative arts repository.
This historic structure, dating back to 1255, initially served as a barracks and prison before being converted into a national museum in 1865. Its robust, fortress-like architecture, with a distinctive crenelated tower, reflects its medieval origins.
Famed for its extensive collection of Renaissance sculptures, the Bargello features works by master artists such as Michelangelo, Donatello, and Cellini. Highlights include Donatello’s “David,” the first nude statue of the Renaissance, and Michelangelo’s “Bacchus,” showcasing their groundbreaking approach to depicting the human form.
Other significant pieces in the museum include a comprehensive collection of decorative arts, such as ceramics, textiles, ivory, silver, and old coins, providing insight into the artistic and cultural milieu of Renaissance Italy.
Your next stop is Piazza di Santa Croce (23). Head south on Via del Proconsolo, turn left onto Borgo dei Greci, and continue straight onto Piazza di Santa Croce. You’ll be walking a distance of 450 m.
Florence historically celebrated the New Year on March 25th, in line with the Annunciation and the start of spring, until 1750 when it aligned with the Gregorian calendar.
23. Piazza di Santa Croce
The expansive Piazza di Santa Croce, with its open, welcoming layout, has been a central hub of Florentine life for centuries, playing host to various events and activities that reflect the city’s dynamic spirit.
The piazza is also adorned with statues and sculptures, including the notable 19th-century monument dedicated to Dante Alighieri. This tribute to the great Italian poet is a focal point in the square, symbolizing Florence’s rich literary heritage.
Surrounding the square are a series of historic buildings and structures that echo the architectural evolution of Florence. Look out for the Palazzo dell’Antella, a striking historical building renowned for its series of harmonious frescoes depicting mythological and allegorical scenes
Piazza di Santa Croce’s other claim to fame is that it hosts the annual Calcio Storico, a traditional football game that dates back to the 16th century. Moreover, Piazza di Santa Croce serves as a gathering place for locals and visitors, bustling with street performers, artists, and vendors.
History 101: Calcio Storico
Calcio Storico, an annual event in Florence, is a unique and historic game that blends elements of soccer, rugby, and wrestling. Originating in the 16th century, this traditional sport is deeply rooted in Florence’s cultural heritage. It is typically held in June, with the final match often coinciding with the feast of St. John the Baptist, Florence’s patron saint. The game is played in historical costume, evoking the atmosphere of Renaissance Florence. Four teams, representing the city’s traditional neighborhoods – Santa Croce (Blues), Santo Spirito (Whites), Santa Maria Novella (Reds), and San Giovanni (Greens) – compete fiercely for glory in the Piazza Santa Croce. Calcio Storico is known for its rough, almost no-holds-barred style of play, where players engage physically to score goals (or “cacce”) on either end of the field.The matches are a colorful, intense, and sometimes violent spectacle, accompanied by a parade in Renaissance costumes, drummers, and flag wavers.
Your next stop is the Basilica of Santa Croce (24) which is located on the east side of the Piazza di Santa Croce.
24. Basilica of Santa Croce
The Basilica of Santa Croce is an exceptional monument of Gothic architecture and a storied repository of Renaissance art. Founded by the Franciscans in 1294, the church was constructed over the original, smaller chapel.
Its completion in the 14th century resulted in one of the largest Franciscan churches, with later additions enriching its artistic and historical value.
Architecturally, Santa Croce’s façade, completed in the 19th century in a Neo-Gothic style by Niccolò Matas, contrasts with its predominantly Gothic interior. The church’s interior presents a spacious, airy nave and striking stained glass windows, a hallmark of Gothic design.
Santa Croce is famously known as the burial place of some of Italy’s most illustrious figures, including Renaissance master Michelangelo, legendary scientist Galileo Galilei, influential political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli, and renowned composer Gioachino Rossini, earning it the nickname “Temple of the Italian Glories.”
The array of artwork housed within this complex stands as the most significant of any church in Florence. Visitors can admire frescoes by Giotto in the Bardi and Peruzzi Chapels, a crucifix by Cimabue, and the impressive Pazzi Chapel, designed by Brunelleschi.
Your next stop is All’Antico Vinaio (25). Head west on Borgo Santa Croce towards Via dei Benci, turn left onto Via dei Benci, and turn right onto Via dei Neri and continue. You’ll be walking a distance of 400 m.
25. All’Antico Vinaio
The title of “the most famous sandwich shop in the world” is subjective and varies depending on cultural influences, media exposure, and personal tastes. However, one sandwich shop that is a strong contender for the title and which has achieved significant recognition globally is “All’Antico Vinaio” in Florence.
Located in the heart of the city, All’Antico Vinaio has gained international acclaim primarily for its scrumptious, oversized focaccia sandwiches, which are both a visual feast and a culinary delight.
The sandwiches are crafted with freshly baked, aromatic focaccia bread and filled with an assortment of traditional Italian ingredients like prosciutto, salami, pecorino cheese, and flavorful spreads like truffle cream. From classic combinations to more innovative pairings, there’s always something new and exciting to try.
All’Antico Vinaio’s popularity soared through social media, with visitors posting pictures of these delectable sandwiches, leading to long queues of eager food enthusiasts.
During my time in Florence, I tried a few sandwiches here and absolutely LOVED all of them! There’s an undeniable freshness to everything that goes into these sandwiches. They offer great value, combining quality with quantity. Go ahead and try it!
Your next stop is the Galileo Museum (26). Head north-west on Via dei Neri and turn left onto Via dei Castellani/Piazza del Grano. You’ll be walking a distance of 180 m.
26. Galileo Museum
The Galileo Museum (Museo Galileo) is one of my favorite points of interest on this Florence walking tour. Overlooking the Arno River, this museum is dedicated to celebrating the scientific achievements of Galileo Galilei and houses one of the world’s finest collections of scientific instruments, particularly from the Renaissance period.
Inside, visitors can explore an array of exhibits showcasing Galileo’s life and works. The museum’s highlights include Galileo’s original telescopes and the famed Lens of Galileo, through which he made his revolutionary astronomical observations.
Additionally, the museum displays the only surviving parts of Galileo’s body – his finger and tooth – revered as relics symbolizing his enduring legacy in the scientific world.
Beyond Galileo, the museum features an extensive array of historical scientific apparatus from the Medici and Lorraine collections, including astrolabes, sundials, and antique globes, illustrating the evolution of scientific inquiry and experimentation.
Interactive exhibits and multimedia displays provide an engaging and informative experience, making the museum a fascinating destination for both science enthusiasts and casual visitors interested in the intersection of history, science, and culture.
Your next stop is the Uffizi Gallery (27). Head south on Via dei Castellani and turn right onto Lungarno Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici. You’ll be walking a distance of 100 m.
27. Uffizi Gallery
The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, one of the most famous and important art museums in the world, is a must-visit for art enthusiasts. Housed in a grand 16th-century building designed by Giorgio Vasari, Uffizi’s extensive collection primarily focuses on Renaissance art, offering an unparalleled insight into this influential artistic era.
The gallery’s layout guides visitors through a chronological journey, starting from the Middle Ages to the Modern period. Among its highlights are some of the most iconic works of the Renaissance.
This includes Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and “Primavera,” two masterpieces that epitomize the grace and beauty of Renaissance ideals. Leonardo da Vinci’s “Annunciation” and Michelangelo’s “Holy Family” (Tondo Doni) showcase the mastery of these legendary artists.
Other notable works include Caravaggio’s “Medusa,” Giotto’s “Ognissanti Madonna,” and Titian’s “Venus of Urbino.” The gallery also hosts a remarkable collection of classical sculptures, which influenced many of the Renaissance artists.
The quality of the artworks at the Uffizi Gallery is such that it can cause Stendhal Syndrome, a psychosomatic condition that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to an overload of beautiful art in a short period. It was first diagnosed in Florence in the 19th century.
The Uffizi’s corridors are lined with important figures and busts, framing a view of Florence’s historic center through its windows, merging the art within with the city’s picturesque landscape. This is one museum you don’t want to miss in Florence.
Your next stop is Ponte Vecchio (28). Head north-west on Lungarno Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici/Lungarno degli Archibusieri and turn left. You’ll be walking a distance of 170 m.
28. Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Vecchio, or “Old Bridge,” is one of Florence’s most iconic and historic landmarks. Spanning the Arno River, this medieval stone bridge, known for its distinctive row of shops built upon its edges, has a rich history dating back to Roman times.
The current iteration was rebuilt in 1345 after a flood, making it the oldest surviving bridge in Florence. Architecturally, the Ponte Vecchio is renowned for its unique design. The bridge features three segmental arches, with the middle arch being the largest.
The overhanging shops, originally occupied by butchers, are now home to jewelers, art dealers, and souvenir sellers, contributing to the bridge’s picturesque charm and bustling atmosphere.
What makes Ponte Vecchio truly famous, however, is its survival against the odds. It was the only bridge across the Arno in Florence not to be blown up by the retreating Germans during World War II, allegedly by a direct order from Hitler.
Additionally, the corridor running atop the shops, known as the Vasari Corridor, connects the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palazzo Pitti and was designed by Giorgio Vasari for the Medici family.
Your next stop is the Pitti Palace (29). Head south on Ponte Vecchio, continue onto Via de’ Guicciardini, and continue onto Piazza de’ Pitti. You’ll be walking a distance of 350 m.
29. Pitti Palace
The Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti), a grand Renaissance mansion in Florence, is a monumental symbol of the city’s rich history and artistic heritage. Originally built in the 1450s for the banker Luca Pitti, it was later acquired and expanded by the Medici family, becoming the main residence of the ruling families of Tuscany.
Architecturally, the Pitti Palace is a striking example of Renaissance grandeur. Its imposing façade, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and later expanded by Bartolomeo Ammannati, features rusticated stone walls and large, symmetrical windows. The palace’s scale and design reflect the power and wealth of its inhabitants.
Today, the Pitti Palace houses several important museums. The Palatine Gallery, with its lavish rooms and exquisite collection of Renaissance paintings, includes works by Raphael, Titian, and Rubens.
The Royal Apartments offer a glimpse into the life of the Medici and later the House of Savoy, with opulent furnishings and decorations. The palace also encompasses the Silver Museum, Costume Gallery, and the Porcelain Museum.
However, one of its most enchanting features is the Boboli Gardens. Stretching behind the palace, these beautifully landscaped gardens are a masterpiece of green architecture, featuring fountains, grottoes, and sculptures, offering a serene escape from the city and spectacular views over Florence.
Your next stop is Palazzo Bianca Cappello (30). Head nort-west onto Sdrucciolo de’ Pitti and turn right onto Via Maggio. You’ll be walking a distance of 180 m.
30. Palazzo Bianca Cappello
The Palazzo Bianca Cappello is one of my favorite architectural sights in Florence and is a must-see for architectural enthusiasts and visitors exploring the rich history and art of the Tuscan capital.
Designed by Bernardo Buontalenti in the late 16th century, the palazzo is renowned for its beautiful façade, a splendid example of Mannerist architecture. It was commissioned by Bianca Cappello, a Venetian noblewoman famed for her romantic liaison and later marriage to Francesco I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.
The façade of the Palazzo Bianca Cappello is a stunning example of Renaissance artistry, particularly noted for its distinctive sgraffito technique. This decorative approach involves applying multiple layers of plaster in different colors to the building’s exterior, and then scratching away parts of these layers to create a specific design or pattern.
Your next stop is the Basilica di Santo Spirito (31). Head south on Via Maggio, turn right onto Via dei Michelozzi, and continue onto Piazza Santo Spirito. You’ll be walking a distance of 130 m.
31. Basilica di Santo Spirito
Appearances can be deceiving and though it doesn’t look anything special from the outside, the Basilica di Santo Spirito is one of the most important examples of Renaissance architecture in Italy.
Designed by the renowned architect Filippo Brunelleschi in the 15th century, the church is celebrated for its harmonious proportions, embodying the ideals of Renaissance aesthetics.
The façade of Santo Spirito, in contrast to its majestic interior, remains unadorned and unfinished, offering a humble and unassuming entrance. Inside, the basilica reveals Brunelleschi’s mastery in its elegant nave and aisles, with a spacious layout that creates a sense of serene grandeur.
The church’s layout, a Latin cross plan with a centrally positioned altar, is a study in symmetry and balance, characteristics of Brunelleschi’s architectural style.
Santo Spirito is also renowned for its artistic treasures. It houses an impressive array of artworks, including a crucifix attributed to a young Michelangelo.
Additionally, the church’s sacristy and refectory contain valuable frescoes and paintings, contributing to its status as a repository of Renaissance art.
Your next stop is Ponte Santa Trinita (32). Head south-east on Piazza Santo Spirito, turn left onto Via del Presto di S. Martino, and turn right onto Borgo S. Jacopo. Then turn left onto Piazza de’ Frescobaldi and continue onto Ponte Santa Trinità. You’ll be walking a distance of 300 m.
32. Ponte Santa Trinità
We’ve now come to the final stop of our free self-guided Florence walking tour. The Ponte Santa Trinità, gracefully spanning the Arno River, is celebrated for its elegant and harmonious design.
It was originally built in the 13th century and has been rebuilt several times, with the current iteration designed by the renowned architect Bartolomeo Ammannati in the 16th century. Characterized by its three flattened elliptical arches, the bridge is a masterpiece of Renaissance engineering, demonstrating both aesthetic beauty and structural ingenuity.
However, the Ponte Santa Trinità is best known for offering one of the best and most iconic views of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. Standing on the Ponte Santa Trinità, visitors can enjoy a breathtaking perspective of the famed Ponte Vecchio with its unique shops and picturesque houses lining the bridge.
The view is especially magical during sunset when the setting sun casts a warm, golden glow over the Ponte Vecchio, illuminating the river with reflections of light.
Guided Florence Walking Tours
If you are very short on time or simply don’t want to deal with the hassle of a self-guided Florence walking tour, you can also opt to take a guided tour instead.
Florence Guided Walking Tour: This two-hour walking tour of Florence overseen by the most knowledgeable locals takes you through the heart of the city. Listen to interesting stories and legends as you go past historic landmarks.
Florence Dark History Walking Tour: Gain a fresh viewpoint of Florence by visiting its renowned landmarks after sunset. Discover stories about Florence’s sinister and provocative past as you enjoy the stunning sights of historic edifices, cobblestone pathways, and age-old bridges.
Private Walking Tour of Florence’s Hidden Gems: Uncover the highlights of Florence on a private guided walking tour.
What Else to See in Florence
There are plenty more things to see and do in Florence than what we have covered in our walking tour.
Places like the stunning Brancacci Chapel, the idyllic Boboli Gardens, Piazzale Michelangelo, the Basilica di San Miniato, and many more historic streets deserve to be seen.
Other fun and popular activities in Florence include –
Florence Segway Sightseeing Tour: See the best of the Tuscan capital on a fun segway tour
Florence Cuisine Tasting Experience: Sample Florentine delicacies and learn about Tuscan cuisine from an expert local guide in Florence
Florence is the ideal starting point for excursions to the postcard-perfect Chianti Wine Region, the stunningly beautiful Cinque Terre area, and the idyllic Tuscan towns of Pisa, Siena & San Gimignano.
Where to Stay in Florence
Florence offers various accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences.
When choosing a hotel in Florence, consider staying in the historic city center or in the vicinity. This area is home to most of the city’s famous landmarks, museums, and galleries, all within walking distance.
Budget travelers can find more affordable options near the Santa Maria Novella train station or in the San Marco district. Remember to book well in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, as hotels in Florence fill up quickly.
Hostel: Ostello Bello Firenze, a popular choice for budget-minded travelers looking for someplace close to the Santa Maria Novella Train Station and city center.
Budget: Hotel Margaret, an excellent choice if you’re on the lookout for a frugal, no-frills option in central Florence.
Mid-range: Hotel degli Orafi, a great choice if you are planning to stay in Oltrarno.
Splurge: Hotel Bernini Palace, one of Florence’s most prestigious hotels, only a 5-minute walk from Florence Cathedral and Ponte Vecchio.
Further Reading For Your Florence Visit
That summarizes our comprehensive free self-guided Florence walking tour. However, we reckon you’ll find the following resources useful for planning your trip to Florence!
More Self-Guided Walking Tours in Europe
In case you enjoyed our self-guided Florence walking tour, do check out our other self-guided walking tours of major European cities.
Now, what do you think? Did you enjoy our self-guided walking tour of Florence? Are there any other stops that we should be adding? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Hello there, fellow globetrotters! I’m Mihir, a passionate travel blogger with an insatiable wanderlust. My journey across the world is fueled by curiosity and a hunger for unique experiences. As a travel writer, photographer, and adventurer, I’ve explored more than 35 countries, aiming to provide readers with a distinctive glimpse of our diverse world. Join me as I blend captivating storytelling with stunning visuals, guiding you through hidden gems and cultural treasures. Besides traveling, my other loves are my beloved cats, architecture, art, craft beer, classic movies, history, and Australian Rules Football (Go Dons!).