Palazzo Vecchio

The city’s magnificent town hall was first built in 1299, and has seen many different names and uses over its history.

TravelCurious Tip

On rain-free days you can take the 418 steps up to the top to the Torre d’Arnolfo and enjoy spectacular views of the city

Found in the Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio is a formidable fortress palace, capped by an unmistakeable, 94 metre crenellated tower. Designed by Arnolfo di Cambio for the city government, to this day it remains home to the mayor’s office and the municipal council.


The Republican Ideal

The inscription over the palace’s main door reads “Christ is the king” and served as a reminder that no mortal could hold absolute power. At the time the palace was built, nine consuls would be picked at random from members of the guild, and they would live in it. Every two months nine new names would be drawn, so no one ever had a chance to get comfy.


Revamp

Things began to change in the 16th century when Cosimo I de’ Medici turned the Palazzo into one of the most luxurious ducal residences of the time. Michaelangelo’s sculpture Genio della Vittoria can be found inside in the Salone dei Cinquecento, a painted hall that was created for the council of 500 who ruled the city in the 15th century. This hall was commissioned in 1540 by Cosimo I, who tasked Vasari and his apprentices to glorify his victories for Florence over Pisa and Siena. He also requested that he be portrayed in god-like fashion in the centre of the panelled ceiling.


Also inside the palace is the Chapel of SS Cosmas and Damian, as well as the Sala di Leo X — which was home to Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici, before he became pope in 1513. Upstairs you can see the Camera Verde, the ceiling of which was inspired by that of Nero’s Domus Aurea in Rome, and the Sala dei Gigli, which is home to Donatello’s Judith and Holofernes.


Map to the Stars

When he wasn’t glorifying himself through paintings, Cosimo I was an avid map collector. In the Sala delle Carte Geografiche you can see his collection of 16th century maps and get an idea of the scope of the known world at the time, from pole to pole.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Florence
Loggia dei Lanzi
Beloved since the 14th century for its superb arches, the Loggia is today an open-air museum of Renaissance sculpture.
Piazza della Signoria
Overlooked by the imposing Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia dei Lanzi, this square is one of the city’s focal points.
Uffizi Gallery
A magnificent 16th century building housing one of the world's foremost collections of Primitive and Renaissance art.
Birth of Venus
An iconic painting by the Italian artist Sandro Botticelli, depicting Venus arriving at the shore after her birth.
The Tribune
Innovative space holding a collection of Renaissance masterpieces.
Annunciation
Painting by Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, dating from circa 1472–1475.

Related Tours

Discover Florence in a Day: Private Full-Day Walking Tour
Explore the best of Florence, the beautiful capital city of Tuscany on this full-day private tour with an expert guide. The birthplace of Dante and Michelangelo and ruled by the infamous Medici family, Florence is often called the Cradle of the Renaissance and is an open-air museum of beautiful Renaissance architecture, statues and monuments, cobbled streets, hidden gems down little-known side streets, world-famous galleries, sunny piazzas, gorgeous old bridges, and wonderful vistas. 

On your private tour, you will: 

  • Meet your guide outside the Hotel Minerva opposite the stunning facade of Basilica Santa Maria Novella, which lends its name to the train station nearby;
  • Walk to the famously vibrant San Lorenzo market, the indoor market selling fresh food and local produce, the lively outdoor market famous for its leather, pottery, and other souvenirs; 
  • See the famous Medici church and mausoleum the Basilica di San Lorenzo from the outside, one of the largest and oldest in Florence, designed by a number of leading architects including Brunelleschi, Donatello, and Michelangelo; 
  • Walk to the iconic Piazza Del Duomo in the heart of Florence, dominated by the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore with Brunelleschi’s famous dome, Giotto's Campanile, and the Baptistry; 
  • Learn all about these buildings, the architects, and the scandalous Pazzi conspiracy; 
  • Head to central Piazza della Repubblica to hear about Italy’s Risorgimento, and on to the Mercato del Porcellino where you’ll learn about the Florentine leather tradition which dates back to antiquity, and how the Florentines used the Arno river in the production process;
  • Pass by Dante’s House, and learn all about the life and work of this seminal Italian writer, famous for his epic poem The Divine Comedy; 
  • Explore the Santa Croce neighbourhood with the grand Basilica di Santa Croce at its heart - where Michelangelo is buried;
  • Enjoy a leisurely and well-deserved lunch break at a local restaurant (not included);
  •  Walk to Piazza dell Signoria with its impressive, muscular marble statues including a replica of David, and the Palazzo Vecchio the historic political centre of Florence;
  • Admire the elegant Uffizi Gallery buildings, a prime example of 16th-century Italian architecture;
  • Walk over the famous Ponte Vecchio, uniquely lined with shops it was the only bridge over the Arno river until 1218, and see if you can spot the secret Vasari Corridor;
  • See the grand exterior of the Renaissance Pitti Palace, once the official residence of the Medici Family;
  • Visit the magnificent Basilica of Santo Spirito, one of the best examples of Renaissance architecture by the famous  architect Filippo Brunelleschi (who designed the extraordinary dome of the Duomo among many other achievements) ;
  • Explore the Oltrarno district, Florence’s coolest neighbourhood, known for its artisanal shops and many bars and restaurants, a favourite hangout for the locals;
  • Enjoy a delicious Gelato on us at your guide's favourite gelateria!

Florence sits serenely on the Arno River in the heart of Tuscany and is known for its Renaissance beauty everywhere you look. 

On your private tour of this Renaissance city, home to some of the greatest names of all time from Michelangelo to the Medici, you’ll explore all the most notable highlights, including the Duomo, with Brunelleschi’s Dome, which took 140 years to complete, and the Baptistry of St John, built over 70 years and named after the Saint Protector of Florence- San Giovanni. 

You’ll hear all about the lives, accomplishments, and scandals of the families and artists that made Florence, as you wander the quaint cobbled streets, gazing at magnificent buildings, glorious piazzas and spectacular statues.

Admire views of the Ponte Vecchio and the Arno, and hear about life in modern Florence as you walk through the vibrant markets that have been going since medieval times, and end with an orientation around the trendy Oltrarno area, filled with artisanal shops and lively bars. Enjoy a delicious gelato with your guide who will be only too happy to help you with dinner/shopping/sightseeing recommendations.  

Please note that there is often a long line to enter into the Duomo of Florence. If the line is too long you will not visit the interior of the Cathedral on tour, and your guide will give you tips on the best time to return to avoid standing in line.
Uffizi Gallery & Accademia: Private Full-Day Walking Tour
Explore the best of Renaissance in Florence on this full-day tour including a guided visit to the Uffizi Gallery and to the Accademia Gallery where you will admire the world-famous "David" by Michelangelo. 

On your private tour, you will: 

  • Walk across the iconic Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence; 
  • Get a crash course in Italian History of Art as you explore the Uffizi Gallery,  home to many of Italy's most famous works of Art  brilliantly organised in chronological order;
  • Learn about Renaissance Masters like Giotto and Leonardo da Vinci; 
  • Admire Boticelli's most recognisable works, such as the  'Birth of Venus' and "Primavera" (Spring);
  • See the famous Doni Tondo by Michelangelo and Bacchus by Caravaggio;
  • Break for lunch. Your guide will recommend the perfect spot for a bite to eat (not included in the price).
  • Enjoy a walking tour of Florence's most popular highlights, including Piazza della SignoriaPalazzo Vecchio, the Logga dei LanziPiazza Della Repubblica, and of course the famed Duomo and its Baptistry;
  • Visit the Galleria dell'Accademia to admire Michelangelo's sculpture of David, and the "slaves";
  • End your tour inside the Accademia Gallery, where you are free to continue exploring at your own leisure;

Located in the very heart of Tuscany, in a basin crossed by the Arno River, the magnificent city of Florence stands as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, filled with historical relics and artistic masterpieces by the greatest masters of Humanism and the Renaissance. You can read it in Dante, see it in Michelangelo, or just be engulfed by it when you walk into a church. 

Begin your day in the impressive Uffizi Gallery, one of the largest museums in the Western world, holding over 3,000 works of notable artists. The Museum complex is deeply bound to the history of the city and the House of Medici and echoes the splendour of a whole era. Masterpieces by Giotto, Masaccio, Piero della Francesca and Botticelli are waiting for you, along with the most recent Caravaggio, Tiziano and Tintoretto and the stunning Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation and Adoration of the Magi.

After, the walking portion of your tour highlights key Renaissance sites and masterpieces,  including the chance to see the Duomo Duomo and its impressive dome designed by Brunelleschi, and the Baptistery of Saint John, one of the oldest buildings in Florence. 

You will also visit the political centre, and enjoy a pleasant stroll through Piazza Della Signoria, surrounded by its ancient buildings and the Loggia Dei Lanzi. 

In the afternoon, your guide will take you to the prestigious Accademia Gallery, where you will enjoy skip-the-line tickets to the museum, and explore stunning artwork, including Michelangelo's David. After an hour, your guide will leave you to explore the gallery at your own leisure. 

Please note that there is often a long line to enter into the Duomo of Florence. If the line is too long you will not visit the interior of the Cathedral on tour, and your guide will give you tips on the best time to return to avoid standing in line.
Welcome to Florence: Private 2.5-hour Highlights Walking Tour
Explore Florence with a private guide, one of the most iconic and beautiful cities in Italy,  and discover the city's rich history, art, and culture on this introductory tour perfect tour for anyone arriving in Florence for the first time. 

On your private 2.5-hour tour, you will:

  • Start your tour at Piazza San Lorenzo, the perfect location to find famous Florentine handmade leather goods;
  • Learn about Italian leatherwork, and discover the best places to shop in the city;
  • Admire the stunning and exquisite architecture of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore known as the Duomo, 
  • Marvel at the  intricate details of the beautiful bronze doors of the Baptistry;
  • Walk by Piazza della Repubblica
  • Take a stroll down the famous Piazza della Signoria, home to the imposing Palazzo Vecchio and the impressive Neptune Fountain;
  • Walk by the Uffizi Gallery, and appreciate the magnificent architecture of the exteriors of the building;
  • Snap the perfect photo by the Arno River of the Ponte Vecchio, one of the most photographed sites in Florence;
  • Finish your tour with a classic Italian gelato on us. 

Discover the most popular highlights in the historic centre of the city of Florence with your expert guide and learn about the amazing history of the city from the time it was the capital of the Renaissance to the time it became the capital of early unified Italy. 

First, you will see the religious centre of the city: admire the Duomo, whose impressive Dome was designed by Brunelleschi, and the Baptistery of Saint John, one of the oldest buildings in Florence. 

From the religious centre, you will walk to the political centre, and enjoy a pleasant stroll through Piazza Della Signoria, surrounded by its ancient buildings and the Loggia Dei Lanzi. In this open-air museum, we will see original masterpieces by Giambologna and Cellini. 
From there, you'll cross the famous Ponte Vecchio, the medieval bridge on the Arno River. Your tour finishes with a delicious gelato (on us!) before your guide leaves you with recommendations for how to spend the remainder of your day.  

Please note that there is often a long line to enter into the Duomo of Florence. If the line is too long you will not visit the interior of the Cathedral on tour, and your guide will give you tips on the best time to return to avoid standing in line.
Best of Florence at Night Virtual Tour
On this Live Night Virtual Tour, we will take you to the Renaissance city of Florence,  a city celebrated for its architecture, art, culture and politics. On your tour:

  • Your guide will take you to see the church of San Lorenzo where the great Medici’s mausoleum can be found
  • Visit the Piazza del Duomo, with its imposing Cathedral and its huge dome. 
  • Hear the story of its construction that lasted centuries and you’ll pass the Medieval area where we’ll hear about the lifestyle of that time and its typical houses: the towers.
  •  Reach Piazza Della Signoria, the political centre of Florence, one of the most famous squares considered a real open door museum. You will find here the government's palace, Palazzo Vecchio and one of the copies of Michelangelo's David.
  • After crossing the Uffizi courtyard, you will see the offices of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
  • Your last stop on the tour will be the famous bridge the Ponte Vecchio, your guide will explain why they are all there.
This 'Best of Florence at Night Virtual Tour' will start at the Medici Palace, a residence that belonged to the Medici Family, the most important dynasties in the history of Florence. They ruled the city for three centuries and during their time, Florence became the most powerful city of the 1400s.

As you stroll through the Renaissance city of Florence, you will stroll past the city's iconic landmarks and palaces. Your last stop on the tour will be the famous bridge the Ponte Vecchio which is flanked by jewellers and goldsmiths.

x

Guides

Join the fastest growing community of professional tour guides.

Partners

Use our easy to integrate toolset to include Tours & Attractions in your customer journey.