Visit Florence on a budget! Here’s how you can visit the main attractions for FREE. The first Sunday of the month offers free admission to many of the popular sites to see. Having experienced a “Free first Sunday” in Paris, we anticipated the lines to be long and the crowds to be large. Many websites also advise to “be sure to make a reservation for Uffizi and Accadamia!” on normal days during peak season, May-November. At most we thought we would be able to visit two free attractions, but were expecting to probably only go to one. Instead, we went to THREE! Read on to learn our tips on how you can do it too!
Italy is one of the most traveled to countries in the world, and it’s no wonder with all the movies it shows up in! From A Good Woman (Amalfi Coast), Only You (Amalfi Coast), Under the Tuscan Sun (Positano and Tuscany), The Italian Job (Northwestern Italy), The Godfather (Northeast Sicily), The Talented Mr Ripley, A Room With A View, Tea With Mussolini, Much Ado About Nothing, the 1950’s hit Roman Holiday, Letters to Juliet, the James Bond film Quantum of Solace, and of course the first stop in Eat, Pray, Love.
You can even grab a travel guide for Italy, such as Fodor's The Amalfi Coast, Capri & Naples, Rick Steves Snapshot Naples & the Amalfi Coast: Including Pompeii, or Lonely Planet Naples, Pompeii & the Amalfi Coast (Travel Guide). Learning more about the culture of Italy using the Italy - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture book is also recommended!
Put on your walking shoes (Click here to see our favorite walking shoes!). Florence does have a bus system, but the city is small enough to walk around. Plus you might even run into the Duomo without even trying!
Order your must-see list. Don’t judge us, but we were pretty worn out with museums and historical areas after visiting Pompeii, Herculaneum, Naples, and Rome. So our top pick for Florence was the Boboli Gardens for the picturesque landscapes and greenery.
Prepare for the sun if you choose the gardens. If you’re visiting in summer, you’ll definitely want to have sunscreen, a bottle of water, and a hat (This hat has SPF). There are some trees and tall maze-like hedges that provide some shade, but if you want to explore the whole area you’ll have to cross some large open areas. If you’re just exploring the city and the museums there is more shade provided by the buildings. You can always cross the street or walk in a parallel alley to stay in the shade.
Visiting Boboli Gardens (and museum). The line to enter ran down the side of the building and down towards the street. Go pick up your free tickets first! There’s a ticket office to the right of the entrance all the way at the end. If you just stand in the line to enter without a ticket, they will make you go get a ticket and then you have to stand in line again. Just go get the ticket first. The ticket office will hand you tickets for both the gardens and the adjacent Palazzo Pitti.
Visiting the Statue of David. Next on our list was the Accademia Gallery where Michelangelo’s Statue of David is housed. There’s only one line to be in there. They hand you your free ticket when you enter. The sign said they were only allowing up to 500 mL of water in your bags so if you packed a larger water bottle make sure it only has 500mL or less by the time you enter. The statue was amazing to see in person, but there’s more to look at than just David. The room to the left of David was filled with fascinating sculptures you won’t want to miss. The second floor–or rather the first floor in Italy terms– was also educational and had some beautiful pieces.
Visiting Uffizi Gallery. When we arrived at Uffizi it almost looked closed! There was no line extending out of the building so we were able to just walk right in. You’re handed a ticket when you enter, and you’ll need to hold onto it until you get to the top floor. No photos are allowed on the middle floor so just take a look around and enjoy. At the top floor you’ll show your free ticket to gain entry. The gallery was MUCH larger than we realized at first. You may want to do your research before going and decide what you want to see. Otherwise you can just wander the rooms and enjoy the artwork as you go.
We actually visited a service at St Mark’s English Church before starting our Free Sunday tour around Florence and were still able to visit all 3 locations. I think it helped to go later in the day to Accademia and Uffizi as the lines were not very long at all. Uffizi is so large that unless you want to spend all day there you should definitely set a time limit if it’s first on your list. I’d recommend going later in the day when the crowd dies down. Even though you’ll have less time in the day before they close, you’ll probably be able to see more of the art as there will be less people in the gallery.
Do you plan to visit Florence on the first Sunday of the month? Let us know if you plan to take advantage of the free admissions!
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Jenny & Bradley of EatWanderExplore