Every seasoned traveller knows the price tag that comes with a RTW trip or how much an innocent jaunt to Amsterdam is really going to cost. Some cities are cheaper than others, some take a little skill, a little research if you want to visit on a tight budget. Florence-bound? No problem.
Florence has a lot going for it, you don’t need us to reiterate that it’s the birthplace of Renaissance art and is now home to the best art that came from the movement. Michelangelo’s David is to Florence what Leonardo’s Mona Lisa is to Paris. This statue is reason enough to visit the capital of Tuscany. Museum and exhibition entry fees add up very quickly though so if you’re on a budget, here are some ideas on how to experience Florence without digging to the bottom of your budget pockets.
The David Dilemma
You need to see David, that’s the whole reason you came to Florence, right? While the stunning original stands in the world acclaimed Galleria dell’Accademia, there is an exact replica of Michelangelo’s masterpiece standing in the Piazza della Signoria, which is free for all to see. The Galleria entrance costs €6.50, maybe too much if you’re only interested in seeing one statue.
The Piazza della Signoria is a very special place in Florence, so if you catch up with David in the Galleria, don’t skip this square. Some of the city’s finest sculptures are located here.
- Perseus holding Medusa’s head by Benvenuto Cellini in bronze
- Hercules beating Nessus the centaur by Giambologna (circa 1500s)
- Rape of Sabine Women by Giambologna (circa 1500s)
In a city like this, you can bet there are some impressive fresco paintings to see. Most of Florence’s churches are open for all, free to visit. Head to the Santa Trinita Church. Inside you’ll find a most impressive fresco in the cappella sassetti by Domenica Ghirlandaio, painted in the early 1480s. The piece portrays Florence at peak of the Renaissance.
Then there is the famous and iconic Duomo, the symbol of Florence and an engineering feat one has to see to believe. The thing with the Duomo is that the higher you want to go (the views at the top are stunning!), the more you have to pay. BUT the entrance to the cathedral is completely free. There are three frescos to see here, one by Paolo Uccello (1436), Andrea del Castagno (1456) and one by Domenico di Michelino.
Patrons and Saints
The patron saint of Florence is John the Baptist. You will find him in a small cloister near the Piazza San Marco, the Chiostro dello Scalzo. The walls around him are painted by Andrea del Sarto and Franciabigio in 1520. If you’re not tired of visiting churches yet, head to San Miniato al Monte, the oldest church in Florence. Romanesque on the outside with 12th c. mosaics on the inside, this church has some excellent views of the city thanks to its hilltop location.
Have you discovered Florence yet? What things do you skimp on to save money while travelling?