Things to do in Florence

The big museums are thrilling, but in many ways I prefer the smaller and more personal experiences in Florence. The small museums, Casa Horne & Casa Buonarrotti are both fascinating.

Santo Spirito and The church of Il Carmine is a must. The whole area here is one of the oldest and most interesting of all. You cross the Ponte Vecchio, turn right into Borgo San Jacopo, and follow along, following the signs to Santo Spirito and Il Carmine. It is the artisan quarter & full of little workshops and antiques etc. In Piazza Santo Spirito, apart from the church, is Palazzo Guadagni, where 'A Room with a View' was shot. The church of the Carmine has some of the most important frescoes in Florence. Masaccio's frescoes of The Fall are extraordinary.

In Palazzo Medici, the tiny Benozzo Gozzoli chapel is exquisite. Go in the afternoon when it is not crowded.

Chiesa di Beatrice is just around the corner, near Dante’s house. This is said to be where Dante first met Beatrice.

The Bargello is the old seat of the Podesta` or Governor, and is now the sculpture museum. You have to join a group and it's worth it not only for the sculptures but for the architecture.
This is true of Palazzo Vecchio too, which suceeded the Bargello as the seat of government.

The church of Santa Croce is one of my favourite places. All the greats are buried there, including the tomb of Dante although he is not really buried there but in Ravenna. The cloisters are full of della Robbia, and The Leather School at the back is pure art.

The oldest Pharmacy in Florence is Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella in via della Scala off Piazza Santa Maria Novella, is wonderful. No longer a pharmacy really but a perfumery, it is beautiful.
When you go to have a look at it, visit the Museo Allinari on the way. It is the photgraphic museum and a stunning record of the city.

Museo di Firenze Com'era (Florence Once Upon a Time) is wonderful. It traces the development of Florence from the Etruscans to the 20th century, and had a great diorama of the medieval city.

Museo delle Scienze, the Science Museum, has Gallileo's documents and much more.

Museo Stibbert is full of arms and weapons etc and is very interesting.

Have a coffee or a drink on the terrace of the department store La Rinascente. You go through the store to the top floor, and you can look out on the Duomo and all the rooftops.

The Foundling Hospital or Ospedale degli Innocenti, is a beautiful building and has a museum which is very touching -- bits and pieces from the belongings of all the babies abandoned over the centuries, and the Foundling wheel, where the babies were placed is at the end of the portico.