Painting at Bargello National Museum, Florence, Italy - Courtesy Chris Wee

Bargello National Museum

Sculpture fans should definitely make time to see this museum, which has works by Michelangelo and Donatello. Visit midday to enjoy the world’s best sculpture when fewer visitors are present.

Outside view - Boboli Gardens, Florence, Italy  - credit Stefan Bauer

Boboli Gardens

These mid-sixteenth-century terraced gardens, behind the Palazzo Pitti, are a nice escape from the crowds in the centro storico. The gardens contain lots of sculptures, fountains and grand allées, making them a fun place to take kids. (Make a list of sights including the Neptune fountain, Egyptian obelisk and sculpture of the court dwarf Pietro Barbino and then make a game out of finding them together.) A fantastic café with a terrace is housed in a lime-green building originally constructed in 1775 for Grand Duke Peter Leopold of Hapsburg-Lorraine, hence its Germanic name: Kaffeehaus. Its hours vary, but it’s worth a stroll to the eastern edge of the gardens (near the exit to the Belvedere fort) to find out if it’s open.

Lounge at  Brancacci Chapel, Florence, Italy

Brancacci Chapel

This chapel in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, in the Oltrarno, is sometimes called the Sistine Chapel of the early Renaissance. Its magnificent fresco cycle was painted in stages by Masolino, Masaccio and Filippino Lippi, but it is the powerfully moving contributions of the young Masaccio (who died at just 27 in Rome) that stand out, especially his Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, depicting a howling Eve and a mortified Adam being driven from paradise by a red-clad angel brandishing a sword, which will stay with you long after your visit. Closed Tuesdays.

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Wine Tasting demonstration

Castiglion del Bosco Wine Lounge

Inside Palazzo Capponi, an historic palazzo formerly owned by the Capponi family, is Castiglion del Bosco’s Florence outpost. Inside, there is a modern tasting room and private dining spaces with impressive frescoes. Indagare can arrange wine tastings, wine and cheese and/or meat pairings, as well as special dining experiences.

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Desinare Cooking School

Riccardo Barthel's interior design shop in Florence was already a must-visit with a spectacular collection of antiques (mostly from the region) and custom pieces from entire kitchens to mosaic floors. Now the design guru has opened a terrific cooking school in conjunction with Arturo Dori, the former chef of foodie favorite Cavolo Nero, located above the shop with a state-of-the-art kitchen and dining room for post-lesson feasts, the space even has a grill for students to learn how to perfectly barbeque the region’s famous bistecca Fiorentina. Reserve a class well in advance and once there, don’t miss the kitchen-focused shop for chef-worthy knives, Tuscan tableware and delicate Florentine glasses.

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Duomo (Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiori)

Brunelleschi’s famous cupola is touristy and not for anyone with vertigo, but the view from this Florence icon gives a first-time visitor a wonderful introduction to the city’s skyline. The steep stairs take you first to a narrow balcony, from which you can see the pastel Vasari-designed frescoes covering the dome’s inner surface, and then to the top, where you can marvel at the red-roofed cityscape below. The brilliance of the architecture is beautifully described in Ross King’s best-selling Brunelleschi’s Dome. Arrive just before closing time (6:20 P.M. during the week, 5 P.M. on Saturdays), and not only will you beat the crowds, but when you descend you will be practically alone in the haunting cathedral. The cupola ascent is closed on Sundays. 

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mannequins in glass tubes

Emilio Pucci Heritage Hub

The new Emilio Pucci Heritage Hub combines the fashion brand’s archives with an innovative incubator program for special fashion projects.

Gabrio Staff Olimpo

Gabrio Staff Olimpo, a small spa and wellness spot on Via Tornabuoni, offers a menu of massages, manicure/pedicures, as well as detox and anti-aging treatments. It's in walking distance to many of the central hotels.

Facade at Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy - Courtesy Chris Wee

Galleria degli Uffizi

The Uffizzi can be maddening, what with outdated galleries, uninspired audio guides, disgruntled staff, dimly lit halls and an insane timed-ticket system that puts you on a line no matter how savvy your planning. And who thought that the array of unrelated shops (including a wine store and a Ferragamo boutique) you have to traverse before exiting was a good idea? But of course the art is so extraordinary that all of these inconveniences quickly fade away. Most of the small rooms on the second floor interconnect in a horseshoe pattern, and mapping out a plan of attack is crucial. Don’t try to see everything: instead, pick a handful of galleries, and read up on the works beforehand or bring a good guidebook along (the audio tour is a complete waste of money). Indagare members can contact our booking teams to arrange a visit with an expert guide, including ones specially trained to educate and engage children.

The busiest gallery is the one that holds Botticelli’s Primavera and Birth of Venus. Like the Mona Lisa, in Paris, these works always have crowds standing in front of them, but it’s worth waiting for your chance at an unobstructed view; they are stunning in their meticulous attention to detail. The da Vincis, Raphaels, Veroneses, Titians and Michelangelos also draw crowds. But don’t forget the other famous Renaissance names: Duccio, Giotto, Piero della Francesca, Lippi and Verrocchio.

Getting into the Uffizi is a notorious nightmare. Here are the four ways to manage it.

  • Without a Reservation. Line up at door 2, and be prepared to wait for hours.
  • With a Reservation. Reserve a specific day and time online ( Take your confirmation printout to door 3, where you will be given tickets allowing you to line up at door. You still have to stand on line, but the wait is much shorter. There’s an additional €4 processing fee for this option. Do not be talked into ordering through your hotel; my husband and I did so, paying €20 per ticket, and still had to pick them up ourselves and stand on line.
  • With a Guide. Sign up with Indagare’s preferred tour operator in Florence for a scholar-led tour, and even though you will still have to wait on the reserved-ticket line and contend with other visitors, you will be with an expert who can lead you to the most important rooms and answer all your questions about Renaissance painting.
  • As a Donor. A gift of $500 to the nonprofit Friends of Florence, which funds the restoration of many historic sites in the city, gives you off-hour to the Uffizi, as well as to the Galleria dell’Accademia, during off-hours.
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Interior View -  Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence, Italy -Courtesy Luca Relli

Galleria dell’Accademia

Before visiting the gallery, read Irving Stone’s excellent historical novel The Agony and the Ecstasy, first published in 1961, which is a vivid account of the life of Michelangelo and the Renaissance art world. Besides the original of Michelangelo’s David, the Accademia also contains the sculptor’s famously unfinished Slaves and works by a slew of other Renaissance masters, including Botticelli and Lippi. As at the Uffizi, reservations are a must to avoid hour-long lines. Indagare members can contact our booking teams to arrange a visit with an expert guide, including ones specially trained to educate and engage children. Closed Mondays.

Editors' Picks
Field at  Indagare Tours: Day Trips, Florence, Italy - Courtesy Francesco Sgroi

Indagare Tours: Day Trips

For a field trip, families can enjoy an excursion to the Chianti region to immerse themselves in the tastes of Tuscany. Families will enjoy a full day in the countryside on the grounds of a family-owned, medieval wine estate. Parents will be able to take part in a guided wine tasting while the children learn about the history of the estate, wine production and have a chance to meet the farm animals.

Enjoy a field trip to Siena to see the predominantly medieval city as it once was. After lunch, continue on to San Gimignano, which preserves many of Italy's great artistic traditions, to see works by great masters like Fiorentino and Pinturicchio.

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Indagare Tours: Florence for Families

Florence is full of symbols in plain sight - from the town flower to the Pazzi's dolphins and Strozzi's moons. Families will embark on a hunt to spot recognizable symbols throughout the city center as an orientation tour to the city and an easy introduction to its past.

Families who'd like to immerse themselves directly in Floretine art will enjoy the Fresco Workshop to learn the revered art of Renaissance painting. Led by a practicing artist in his studio, the entire family will learn how to use authentic materials and techniques employed by the Renaissance masters on their very own fresco masterpieces. Indagare members can contact our bookings team to arrange a visit with an expert guide, including ones specially trained to educate and engage children.

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Indagare Tours: Florence Workshops

Dive into the artisan nature of the city by working with the craftsmen and learning one of a number of crafts such as paper making, fresco making, woodworking or painting. And if you would rather eat your handiwork, we can arrange for a pasta, pizza or gelato-making workshop. Indagare members can contact our Bookings Team to arrange.

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Indagare Tours: Shopping Experiences

Florence remains one of the shopping capitals of the world where many of the most famous Italians started their crafts: Depending on your interests we can organize a private visit to the Gucci Museum and its exclusive shop or walks through some of the artisan neighborhoods to visit ateliers of goldsmiths, woodworkers, jewelers and leather and lace artists. Either lunch or dinner will be served after your visit in the Museum or outside in the stunning Piazza della Signoria. Indagare members can contact our booking teams to arrange a visit.

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Indagare Tours: Unique Experiences

Celebrate romance with a candlelit dinner in a Florentine Museum that has been kept open exclusively for your use. Enjoy the surrounding masterpieces accompanied by a private live concert. Possible venues include: Galleria dell'Accademia, Orsanmichele, Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti. Or cruise down the Arno at sunset. After a short walking tour of the historical center, board a private boat to cruise down the Arno at sunset and see the city and its monuments and palaces from the river.

Field at  Indagare Tours: Wine Trips, Florence, Italy - Courtesy Michal Osmenda

Indagare Tours: Wine Trips

For wine and food wine lovers we can tailor a day trip to the Chianti region to immerse visitors in the tastes of Tuscany. You can visit prestigious, family-owned wine estates for a guided wine. Enjoy a field trip to Siena to see the predominantly medieval city as it once was. After lunch, continue on to San Gimignano, which preserves many of Italy's great artistic traditions, to see works by great masters like Fiorentino and Pinturicchio.

Interior View - La Specola, Florence, Italy -Courtesy Luca Relli

La Specola

Founded in 1771, this little-known museum near the Pitti Palace houses one of Florence’s most bizarre collections. It was originally conceived to display natural-science curiosities gathered by generations of Medicis. Today, visitors can still view some of these royal collections in the twenty-four rooms, in which turn-of-the-century glass cases display zoological specimens. The exhibits may be slightly dated, but coming across a life-size rhinoceros displayed in the middle of Florence still evokes the same wonder that nineteenth-century visitors must have felt when first seeing these displays. The last ten rooms are filled with eighteenth- and nineteenth-century wax anatomical models, which were commissioned by Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo as a method of teaching anatomy. If you visit with children who may be afraid of the life-size bodies made of wax (they are truly works of art but also somewhat disturbing) it’s best to skip these rooms. That said, my children consider it their favorite place in Florence and love to bring friends here for the first time. Open every day except Wednesday, 9 A.M. to 1 P.M.

Interior View - Mercato Centrale di Firenze,Florence, Italy

Mercato Centrale di Firenze

One of Florence’s most beautiful and beloved covered food markets recently became even more of an attraction with the addition of restaurants, shops, a cooking school, library and artisanal vendors. Among the goodies in the iconic Renaissance building: local salami and freshly made pasta, mozzarella di bufala from Caserta, homemade ice-cream and regional wines. The cooking school offers courses throughout the year, and there are plenty of individual gourmet stalls offering supplies for impromptu picnics on the Arno.

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Museo del Opera del Duomo

It's a mystery why this museum, in the shadow of the Duomo, is somewhat ignored. Well-organized and compact, it must feature more masterpieces per square inch than any other in the city. In the first room, you’ll find original marble sculptures taken from the bell tower of the Duomo’s cathedral (the four figures represent apostles and include Donatello’s St. John). One of Michelangelo’s unfinished Pietà, meanwhile, is located on a landing leading to the second floor. Observe the face of Nicodemus, the old man who supports Christ: it is thought to be Michelangelo himself, and an intensely moving self-portrait of the artist as pain-filled and world-weary. Upstairs, don’t miss a pair of 15th-century choir stalls, by Donatello and Luca della Robbia, which are displayed above eye level (as they were originally meant to be seen in the cathedral).  

Interior View - Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy - Courtesy Sai L. Ko

Museo Horne

Dark terracotta floors, leaded glass windows and coffered ceilings set the scene at this museum in the Santa Croce neighborhood. A visit to this collection is akin to stepping back in time and being invited into the home of a Renaissance patrician. At the turn of the twentieth century, Herbert Percy Horne, a transplanted British scholar, bought and lovingly restored the former Palazzo dei Corsi to its fifteenth-century splendor. Today, it serves as the backdrop to Horne’s extensive collection of fine and decorative arts. The pieces, including masterful works from the fifteenth and sixteenth century, are displayed without labels or Plexiglas partitions, so you feel like you’re strolling through someone’s personal collection. Saint Stephen, a painting by Giotto, is a major treasure, as are two figurative works by Medici court sculptor Giambologna and a colorful tondo depicting the Holy Family by the Renaissance-Mannerist painter Beccafumi.

Museo Salvatore Ferragamo

The large medieval palace at the end of Via Tornabuoni that is closest to the Ponte Santa Trinita is the home of Salvatore Ferragamo, the great shoe designer.

Interior view - Palazzo Davanzati, Florence, Italy - Courtesy Sai L. Ko

Palazzo Davanzati

Before the Palazzo Davanzati was renovated in 2022, we often recommended this museum for families, but it should now be high on the list of anyone interested in the decorative arts as well. Yes, it is still a great choice, if your kids have had their fill of Renaissance painting and sculpture; as one of Indagare’s Florence guides recommends taking them to this palazzo, whose interiors have been refurbished with paintings, furniture and objects one would find in a typical Florentine house from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. But there is much more to this gem of a museum that is too often overlooked by visitors to Florence. Dating back to the mid-14th century, the Palazzo remains one of the best examples of an aristocratic medieval house. Thanks to antiques dealer Elia Volpi, the house was restored and turned into a house museum in 1904, and its decorative frescoed rooms reveal a rare glimpse of a decorative style of trompe l'oeil painted curtains and 15th century aesthetics. There are also great collections of armor and textiles.

Exterior View -  Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence, Italy - Courtesy Sai L. Ko

Palazzo Medici Riccardi

The cold stone façade of this palazzo gives no hint of the treasures within. Skip the grand Medici rooms, and go straight to the tiny Cappella dei Magi, adorned with a fresco cycle painted between 1459 and 1461 by Benozzo Gozzoli. Because the chapel has double walls and no windows, the frescoes have never been exposed to dampness or direct light, so their colors remain stunningly vivid. They depict the journey of the three Magi to Bethlehem, but Gozzoli incorporated portraits of recognizable personalities who had come to Florence in 1438 for a council meeting. Several Medici men can be seen riding in the procession, while exotic animals frolic in the background. The paintings are marvelously dense, and even though the chapel is small (no more than eight people are allowed in at a time), plan to spend enough time here to take in all the details. Closed Wednesdays. 

Aerial View -   Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy - Courtesy Sai L. Ko

Palazzo Pitti

This massive palazzo (assumed to have been designed by Brunelleschi but also attributed to his student Fancelli) is surrounded by the sprawling Boboli Gardens and is the largest museum complex in Florence. The offerings include the Galleria Palatina, which contains works by Raphael, Titian and Rubens; the Royal Apartments, fourteen rooms that were formerly the home of the Medici and Lorraine families; the Silver Museum; and the Costume Gallery, a fun smaller gallery to visit with children. Indagare members can contact our bookings team to arrange expert guides, including those specially trained to educate and engage children. Closed Mondays.

Editors' Picks
Lobby at Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy - Courtesy Sai L. Ko

Palazzo Strozzi

This palace, begun in the fifteenth century by a rival of the Medici clan, hosts a wide variety of international exhibitions. Shows have included ControModa: Masterpieces from the Permanent Collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as well as a comprehensive exploration of Impressionist painting techniques.

Exterior view -  San Miniato al Monte, Florence, Italy

San Miniato al Monte

Just uphill from Piazzale Michelangelo, with its belvedere affording sweeping city views, is San Miniato. Unlike its larger, noisier city sisters, Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce, this lovely church maintains a hushed, serious ambiance. Its interiors are not lit, and the haunting faces of the many wall paintings stare out from the dim surroundings like ghostly reminders of the building’s long history, dating to the early eleventh century. Ask the concierge at your hotel for the schedule of services: hearing Gregorian chants sung by the monks of the monastery is truly an otherworldly experience.


One of the visits that moves the romantics among us to tears is the little-known sotterraneo under the Sagrestia Nuova at San Lorenzo.


Indagare employees walking up stiars

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