Florence is one of those cities that best avoids written description. Its beauty really should be experienced in person for there is a magical ambience in the air that ebbs and flows throughout the Florentine streets. It’s something that words just can’t quite describe.
However, if buying a ticket and hoping on the next plane to Italy isn’t quite as feasible as you would hope, don’t despair! I’ve created this visual walkthrough of Florence by night just for you!
It includes visits to the most famous sights of the city, which even if you have seen by day take on a different personality at night. Once the sun goes down, dark shadows hang across the antique buildings, in stark contrast to the the rays of light dancing of the gleaming marble statues. It really is a sight to behold.
Of course, no romantic night walk in Florence would be complete with crossing the wonderfully lit Ponte Vecchio towards the end of our visual tour. Since I was alone during my time here, my walk wasn’t thaaat romantic but I did console myself with a triple scoop gelato! (Coffee, panacotta and vanilla if you are wondering…)
Our visual walkthrough of Florence is going to take us to six key sights.
- The Duomo Cathedral
- Piazza della Signoria & the open air statue gallery, Loggia della Signoria.
- Piazza Vecchio
- The Uffizi Gallery
- Ponte Vecchio
- Piazza della Repubblica
This is how it looks on the map:
As they say a picture speaks a thousand words; so here’s a Florentine love story in photo form…
1. The Duomo Cathedral
Given its construction in white, green and red marble, the cathedral should, without a doubt, be admired at night so you can appreciate it in all of its beauty. When lit by the surrounding lights, the buildings in the piazza glow, well, like marble, in comparison to the inky black Italian sky.
Despite its height, Giotto’s Bell Tower is lit from its base right up to its very top. The lighting at the bottom is quite stark but gradually fades as you look up higher and higher. Note the colour variations in the red and pink marble, which become quite evident under the bright lights.
Walking away from the Duomo to Piazza dell Signoria, you will pass through the main shopping streets in the centre of the city. Many of the shops are still open at night and continue to be frequented by the many tourists out enjoying the Florentine nightlife.
2. Piazza della Signoria & the Loggia della Signoria
The L-shaped Piazza della Signoria is home to many restaurants, but more importantly, the Loggia della Signoria. The Loggia is an open air statue gallery housed in three large arches off to the side of the Piazza. By night, this is where the magic happens as you are free to roam amongst the statues. Carefully placed lighting brings out the lifelike details and craftsmanship that went into carving these statues.
3. Piazza Vecchio
Piazza Vecchio, or the town hall, is well known for its architectural design and the height of its bell tower. However we are going to look a little closer to the ground. Beside the main entrance stands a replica statue of David, gleaming bright white against the brickwork of the building. The real David stood here for many years before being relocated to his current home in the Accademia Gallery.
4. Uffizi Gallery
After the sun has set, the outside the Uffizi Gallery rather than its inside, becomes the highlight in this part of town. The long courtyard is flanked by many marble Roman columns, which are divided between statues of the most famous and influential Renaissance personalities.
The crowds in the courtyard are much thinner by night (essentially non-exist actually) allowing you to enjoy the serenity and beauty of the building. If you wait, you might just be able to snap a few photos completely tourist-free!
5. Ponte Vecchio
The beautiful Ponte Vecchio. This bridge is special by day, but by night it is spectacular. With only the stars and moon above, the river takes on the appearance of liquid silk, with the reflections of the bridge and surrounding buildings to shimmering on its surface.
To permit the Ponte Vecchio its full merit, be sure to take a stroll across at night as well. The boutique stores that hang famously over the water will still be open, accommodating many of the tourists who flock to the arches in the centre of the bridge to take photos.
6. Piazza della Repubblica
Our walkthrough of Florence finishes in the Piazza della Repubblica and its famous carousel. The ambience in this Piazza is wonderful and quintessentially European; buskers and musicians sing into the late hours of the evening, groups of friends laugh as they head on out to the clubs and couples stroll by hand-in-hand soaking up the romantic Florentine air. What a perfect way to end an evening.