One Day in Florence: an itinerary in photos.

Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence

Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence

30 minutes.

30 minutes is all it takes by train from the station in Bologna to the station in central Florence.

I was in Bologna as a guest of the Emilia-Romagna tourist board last October. Since then, I have suggested to many that it is a place from which to visit Florence. But more, you’ll appreciate Bologna because it’s less expensive, safe for exploring at night (walking in the evening is a common pastime in Bologna) has fabulous food and is close to many other Italian cities you’ll want to visit.

I have already written about Venice, Parma, Modena, a road trip on the back roads, the souvenirs I brought back and, of course, Bologna itself, a couple of times.

But this time I’m writing about my day trip to Florence. With only one day I focused on the outside of Florence. I didn’t go into the museums or climb the Duomo but there was still much to enjoy.

Between the railway station and the major tourist attractions of the city is the tourist market. When you pass a leather staff and can't smell leather - well it makes me question authenticity. Yet many were buying.

Between the railway station and the major tourist attractions of the city is the tourist market. When you pass a leather stand and can’t smell leather – well it makes me question the authenticity of the products. Yet many were buying. Go past the market. There is so much more to see.

Il Duomo is The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

The Florence cathedral is The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, which is more commonly referred to simply as Il Duomo. Duomo is the Italian word for cathedral. But go ahead. Google “Duomo” and after Wikipedia’s definition of the word are sites that talk specifically about the Florence’ Duomo. Why? Because the magnificent dome was an engineering feat. It was the largest dome in Europe from it completion in 1436 until modern times – unfortunately this uncertain time frame is repeated on many sites and I couldn’t find any definite time period for this. The dome was designed by Brunelleschi. You can climb to the top which I did in 2002. The cost is €10.

Il Duomo

The facade of Il Duomo

Il Duomo is The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

Details of the facade with the Madonna and child at the center.

The painted inside of the Duomo

The spectacular fresco on the interior of the dome was designed by Giorgio Vasari.

Section of the Duomo

Section of the fresco.

The nave

The nave of Il Duomo.

The people behind the alter are passing under the dome.

The people behind the alter are tourists passing under the dome.

And look to the back and you'll see the clock. Curious about the numbering.

And look to the back and you’ll see the clock. The one-handed liturgical clock shows 24 hours in Italian time, a system which was commonly in use until the 18th century. It is still in working order.

One day in Florence – beyond Il Duomo.

The Duomo is the  biggest attraction to the city but there is so much more.

Michelangelo was born in Tuscany and is frequently associated with Florence for his relationship with the Medici family. Many of his works still reside there including the original David which is in the Galleria dell’Accademia. But I didn’t have the time to go to the Accademia in my one day tour. Instead, I enjoyed the replica that is situated in the famous statue’s original location in the Palazzo della Signoria not far from the Duomo.

Palazzo della Signoria, Florence

Palazzo della Signoria, Florence

Replica of Michaelangelo's David on its original site.

Replica of Michelangelo’s David on its original site.

From the Palazzo I went past the Uffizi Gallery. If you want to include a visit to this enormous gallery buy your ticket online in advance and plan to arrive prior to opening which is 8:30am, Tuesday through Sunday. I did not plan to go so past it I went towards the famous Ponte Vecchio famous for still having shops built along its length as was common in medieval times. (This is not completely uncommon. There are similar bridges in Venice and Bath, England and, I’m sure, many more places.) The bridge shops were originally butchers but they have long been converted to jewellery stores. I had a couple of interesting conversations about the nationality of the shop customers. While for many decades they had been American, in the last decade there has been a shift with their major customers now being from Russia and China.

View of Ponte Vecchio in background

View of Ponte Vecchio in background

Gold on sales on Ponte Vecchio

Gold on sales on Ponte Vecchio

Not far past the other side of the Ponte Vecchio are the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens. The Palazzo has an interesting history starting with the Florentine banker who had the palace built in 1458. It was then purchased by the Medici family in 1549 and was later used by Napoleon in the late 18th century. In the 1860’s it was used as a royal palace for the newly united Italy and in the early 20th century it was donated to the Italian people as a gallery. It’s open to the public and holds a number of collections including that of the Medici family.

But I spent more time in the Boboli Gardens which is known for its sculptures which date from the 16th to the 18th centuries. The gardens are beautiful and the sculptures very fine but it was the view of the city from them and the grotto on the side that I most enjoyed. To have a view of the city from on high put the Duomo in perspective. And then there is the grotto.

 View of Il Duomoa from the Boboli Gardens.

View of Il Duomoa from the Boboli Gardens.

View of Il Duomo from Palazzo

View of Il Duomo from Palazzo

The Grotta del Buontalenti, like many grottos, is attached to a garden, in this case the Boboli Gardens. It was commissioned by Francesco I de ‘Medici and begun in 1584 by Vasari (of the Duomo’s dome). It includes work by Michelangelo (his pieces are replicas as the originals were moved to the Accademia like his David) and others. It’s a baffling combination of grotesque figures and beautiful statues in classical form. It’s complicated. I suggest that you check this blog out for more on the grotto.

Grotta del Buontalenti

Grotta del Buontalenti (The Great Cave)

La fontana di Venere del Giambologna

La fontana di Venere del Giambologna (The Spring by Venere del Giambologna)

Paride e Elena di Vincenzo de' Rossi

Paride e Elena di Vincenzo de’ Rossi (Paris and Helen by Vincenzo de’ Rossi)

From the grotto I simply made my way back across the bridge south of the Ponte Vecchio and through the streets of Florence to the train station. Another 30 minutes and I was back in Bologna.

My thanks to the tourism board here for supporting Blogville in Bologna – a place for bloggers to stay while exploring the region. You can read what other bloggers have written about their stay here.

  • Sonal Bhardwaj

    So beautiful Janice. Reminded me of my Florence trip was was rather half a day. One place i would love to back again and again

  • Yolanda

    St Mark Square is in Venice! In Rome in one day you could visit St Peter, The Sistine Chapel and in the afternoon Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Spanish steps are all walking distance from one to another OR take a hop on hop off bus and take a four hour tour and you will be able to see the Coliseum, Piazza Venezia and other sites.

  • Sonal Bhardwaj

    Hi, Iam visiting Florence for a day and Vatican too in early September. What can I see in Vatican in one day. I have jotted on my list St Marks Square St Peters Basilica Sistine Chapel. Please suggest. Tx.

  • John Yohalem

    No San Miniato?
    The loveliest church in Firenze.

  • Cindy Van Vreede

    While in Florence, I went to the Medici Chapel which also has several Michelangelo statues. The Duomo was closed when I was there as they were renovating after a serious flood. I’ll have to go back after seeing those fantastic interior photos.

  • Aleah |

    Glad to see this post. Reminds me I really need to write about Firenze already. I miss Italy!

  • Milena Yordanova

    Great photos! Florence is such a beautiful city and Il Duomo looks stunning.

  • Janice Waugh

    Hi Suzann,

    Here’s my step by step guide on taking a selfie:


  • Suzann Osborne

    Wonderful Pictures. I am wondering how you take all the photos of yourself solo? You either have a very long arm and take wonderful “selfies” or ask others to help. Any advice on getting great photos like yours when you are traveling alone. I am hesitant to ask a stranger to take a photo with my camera or phone.

  • Clippingimages

    Well organized and well captured photos. I like your album for its series of pictures that is telling the whole story itself.

  • Janice Waugh

    Hi Corinne,

    It was all in one big loop and other than the Duomo, I didn’t go inside anywhere. I felt the city. If I wanted to go into it’s many fabulous museums I would definitely have needed more time.


  • Corinne Vail

    Wow! Janice…You sure did a lot on one day. I’m worn out just reading about it. I do think Florence is a gorgeous city and so full of fantastic art…

  • Sue Lowry

    Lovely post / lovely pics – Brought back wonderful memories – must return soon.

  • Linda

    One of my favorite (and first) solo travels. My daughter studied abroad there. I visited on the tail end. On my bucket list to return.

  • Travel & Lust

    Thank you for sharing! Florence is definitely an exciting city to travel and explore! We especially loved the grotesque figures and beautiful statues that you have mentioned here.