Although in Florence there are plenty of places to visit where you have to pay, there are also many popular places you can visit without spending. Here is a list of what you can do in Florence for free
Cathedral of Santa María del Fiore
Florence Cathedral, better known as Il Duomo is one of the icons of this city. The best view is on the outside as it is beautifully ornamented. Admission to the interior is free and often there is a long line to enter. However, inside it is quite simple if we compare it with other churches in Florence.
If you want to climb to the top of the Duomo or the bell tower then you will have to pay €15 euros ($17.66 USD). The ticket allows you to enter the baptistery, the bell tower, the museum and the crypt. I don’t want to discourage you, but to go up to the dome you need a good physical condition and not to suffer from claustrophobia.😀 They control the access because the stairs are narrow and only a few people can climb at the same time.
The frescoes by Giorgio Vasari decorating the dome, are visible from below inside the cathedral.
To enter the most important churches in Florence you have to pay. But there are other churches you can visit in Florence for free. Some are worthy in my opinion.
One I liked the most is the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte. A small church located on the highest place in Florence. On Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m you can come to listen to the Benedictine monks sing their Gregorian chants. It is a church with an ancient and medieval atmosphere.
The Basilica di Santo Spirito is also free. It is located in the square of the same name in the area known as Oltrarno, which is another side of the Arno River. Michelangelo was a guest of the convent when he was 17 years old. As a sign of his gratitude, he carved a wooden crucifix that is still preserved in the sacristy
The Basilica Della Santissima Annunziata is another church that you can visit in Florence for free. The interior of this church is decorated in a baroque style and it’s even more embellished than inside the Cathedral itself. There are some art pieces that you can admire like Resurrection by Bronzino and Annunziata by Perugino.
Another church you can visit is the Chiesa di Santa Margarita Dei Cerchi, better known as the church of Dante. He met Beatrice here, who would become his impossible love. Tourists come to this church to leave love letters in the tomb of Beatrice. Although it hasn’t been proved that she is actually buried in this chapel.
If you want to know more about the most important churches in Florence read my post A guide to the most famous churches in Florence
The Ponte Vecchio
This is another of the symbols of Florence. It is the oldest bridge in Europe since it was built in wood by the Romans after the founding of Florence in 150 BC. Later it was rebuilt in stone in 1345. Historically it has been a place of commerce and nowadays most of the shops are jewelers.
Legend says that Adolf Hitler liked this bridge so much, that he gave instructions to not shoot it down during the Second World War. Above the bridge, there is the Vasari corridor. This connects Palazzo Pitti and Palazzo Vecchio passing through the Uffizi Gallery. Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici commanded Giorgio Vasari to design it so that he could move freely among the palaces.
The Vasari Corridor is currently closed for remodeling. It is expected to open to the public in 2018 but there is still no exact date. You can walk around and take pictures by the Ponte Vecchio but it is usually quite crowded.
Although to visit the rooms and museum of Palazzo Vecchio you have to buy a ticket, you can access the inner courtyard for free. They built the palace in 1299 as a residence and workplace for The Republic officials. Later it would serve as the royal home for Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici and his family. Currently, besides the museum, it houses the offices of the Town Hall.
More information about palaces and museums in my blog post The most popular palaces and museums in Florence
Piazza Della Signoria
Piazza Della Signoria is the square where the Palazzo Vecchio stands. David, Michelangelo’s most famous sculpture was located here, at the entrance to the Palace. Now you can see a replica instead. On the other side of the entrance, there is another sculpture called Hercules and Cacus by Baccio Bandinelli.
In this square, they celebrated public executions. One of the most famous was the execution of friar Girolamo Savonarola who was condemned for heresy by orders of Pope Alexander VI. In front of the Fountain of Neptune, in the center of the square, there is a commemorative plaque of this event.
Here you can see the Loggia Della Signoria, a building with a Gothic style used for the Republic meetings. In the times of Cosimo I de’ Medici they started to host masterpieces of sculpture here. Currently, it is an open-air museum. The most important sculpture is Perseus with the head of Medusa by Benvenuto Cellini. Other noteworthy sculptures are the Rapture of the Sabinas and Hercules and the Centauro Neso, both of Giambolona.
If you prefer not to pay to climb to the top of some of the towers, here you can access incredible views of Florence. You have to go to the other side of the Arno river and there are several steps to climb. The square was built in 1869 when Florence was the capital of Italy. Also, you can admire some bronze replicas of Michelangelo’s sculptures, including David.
Another square that you can visit in Florence is Piazza Della Reppublica. Its transformation to its current appearance also dates back to the years when Florence was the capital of Italy. you can notice an arch with an inscription that says: The ancient center of the city restored from age-old squalor to new life. There are several cafes and shops around the square, and also serves as a stage for various street artists.
You can walk through the Piazza Della Santíssima Annunziata as well, where you can find the church of the same name. Here you will see the Ospedale Degli Innocenti, an orphanage designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. In the center, there is a statue of Ferdinand I made in 1508 by Giambolona.
Parco Delle Cascine
A little away from the center is Cascine Park, a good option to visit in Florence for free. Its location is on the Arno River banks. A pyramidal fountain called Fonte di Narciso attracts the attention. It is ideal for a picnic or just to come and relax.
I came to this park seeking the market installed on Tuesdays from 7 a.m to 2 p.m. They offer different products like clothing, household items, fruits, vegetables and Florentine food. The prices are not bad if you want to indulge in something. To get there, you have to take the tram in Alamanni station next to the Santa María Novella train station.
They don’t charge for looking, so you can walk around the interesting markets in Florence. The two most famous are the market of San Lorenzo and the Mercato Nuovo, better known as the Porcellino market. The products they offer are very similar. Textiles, souvenirs and leather goods such as handbags and shoes.
Other markets where you can buy local foods (not free but at moderate prices) are Mercato Centrale and Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio. You can also observe the daily life of the Florentines.
If you would like some suggestions on what to do and shop in Florence check my post Advice about what to do in Florence: art and shopping
Giardino Delle Rose
Not all gardens in Florence are free, for example, you have to pay to visit the Boboli and Bardini gardens. The garden of roses is situated very close to the square of Michelangelo. In fact, you can rest here when you come down from the square. There are sculptures by the Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon, and many varieties of roses and other plants.
Here end my suggestions about what you can see in Florence for free. I hope you find it useful to adjust your budget for your trip. Has anyone been in Florence? What would you add to the list? leave your comments below ⇓⇓ and if you liked it don’t forget to share on your social media. Thank you and see you soon!!