A Florence City Tour of David and the Duomo with Walks of Italy

It’s fairly obvious from my blog title that I do all my exploring in the days and weeks afforded by my annual leave, meaning that my trips are rarely longer than a fortnight and often shorter. Whilst this isn’t how everyone would choose to travel, it’s a rhythm that works for me but it does mean I need to use my time wisely if I’m headed somewhere with  lot to see and do. Duomo Cathedral Florence

Seeing David and the Duomo, Florence

Florence is the perfect example. I made my second visit there recently for just a two night break after visiting Cinque Terre and as Pumpkin had never been, he assumed I would be the perfect guide. The problem was this: having previously wandered around the galleries and monuments in Florence with only a few fleeting glances thrown at my guide book,  I could remember very little of the history. And this was exactly where the Walks of Italy David and the Duomo Florence city tour came in.

Michelangelo’s David

David statue Academia Florence As one of Italy’s most handsome men important sculptures, David is thought worldwide to be not only a masterpiece of art but also a symbol of the perfection of human form. It is unsurprising, therefore, that Michelangelo’s David was the first stop of the day and all of us in the Walks of Italy crew rather smugly jumped ahead of the crowds trailing the streets leading up to the Academia Gallery. When you see the queues, you’ll understand why it’s worth taking the tour for this perk alone, particularly when the weather was manifesting some serious adolescent mood swings, fluctuating between scorching and soaking (you might be able to tell from the skies in the photos!)Walks of Italy David Duomo Florence tour Whilst most visitors entering marched straight towards the towering Carrara marbled, defined torso of David, Bernardo (our Walks of Italy guide) set the scene by making sure we also learned a bit about the other beautiful statues in the same gallery.statues Academia gallery Florence He also enlightened us on just how many artistic masterminds have blossomed from the Academia, which impressively sells nearly ten times as many tickets annually as there are residents in Florence (!) and is still one of the most prestigious fine arts institutions in the world with just a small handful of places offered to only the most talented, budding arts students. As renowned as David is, you must not visit Academia without understanding its prestige as an establishment in its own right.

I was already rather in awe of the talent of Michelangelo before we even hovered in the vicinity of this solid sculpture. Michelangelo David sculpture FlorenceSupposedly, when he was given this imperfect block of marble to work with, several fellow sculptors had already declined this project, deeming it too challenging. You can perhaps get a feel for how we spent more than half an hour hearing all about David with Bernardo drawing our attention to so many details that I hadn’t even noticed during my first visit, such as the crack on his left hand caused by the act of vandalism that occurred at the hands of a visitor in the early 90s.

Piazza della Signoria

Piazza della Signoria Firenze sculpture Piazza della Signoria view

Our sculpture fix was not about to end at the Academia either with a visit to the Piazza dellla Signoria, a square that has developed a reputation as one of the finest (and one of the only) outdoor, free art galleries anywhere in the world. You may spot a familiar face there… David statue Piazza della Signoria Florence And some new ones as well… lion statue piazza della signoria florence I vividly recall photographing this square during my first visit here, having no idea that only three of the sculptures here are copies whilst the rest are original masterpieces. statues Piazza Signoria open square FlorenceBernardo’s humourous, story-telling approach left us all completely engaged and when he asked for a volunteer guinea pig to demonstrate a point he was making about the statues, I tried to drop Pumpkin in it by pointing in his direction… Unfortunately, my pointy finger got mistaken for a raised hand and the next thing I knew, I was a wannabe statue preparing to get into combat. A fun photograph but perhaps not one to make the shortlist for my next Gravatar pic! Walks of Italy Florence tour

The Duomo Cathedral

Duomo bell tower FlorenceI think it was the eye-catching beauty of the Gothic and Renaissance architecture of Florence’s most famous landmark that first made me fall in love with this culture-laden city.architecture Duomo Cathedral FlorenceThe detail on the marble of the Duomo is such that every time you stare at it, you notice something new, another sculpture, another carving that you had missed before. Duomo Firenze Florence photosUnlike many other similar monuments of its time, the pastel green and pink shades found throughout the building add to its mellow charm even more.Assess the patient's likely fluid and electrolyte needs from their history, clinical examination, current medications, clinical monitoring and laboratory investigations The tourist crowds around the Duomo seem more concentrated than anywhere else in the city and if you are travelling with children for example, this is not the place to let go of their hand!Duomo Florence at night view

Before I came on the tour, I was rather perplexed as to how on earth they were going to have a guide speaking to us all when there were litters of groups swarming all over the place. And the simple answer is – technology! Walks of Italy bypass this problem by providing each of us with an individual headset with volume control to listen to our guide as we go along. This means that for trigger-happy bloggers (guilty as charged), I can take photographs to my heart’s content without missing out on any commentary. golden detail Duomo Florence After a browse around the outside of the Duomo, we entered to hear more but please take note of the dress code before you go. Women need to have shoulders covered at all times inside the cathedral and you will not be permitted inside without it.frescoes Duomo Florencepaintings Duomo Cathedral FirenzeAt first glance, the interior does not possess the same “Wow” factor as seen on the unparalleled exterior but you will soon be impressed once you tilt your head up towards the ornate frescoes, the magnitude of which is almost impossible to fully perceive from this angle. Make sure you pause at the large clock inside, which is one of the oldest functioning mechanical clocks in the world.old mechanical clock Duomo FlorenceAlthough  it is not part of the tour, visitors can also brave the steep climb to either the top of the Dome or the bell tower for great views across Florence. I did this back in 2009 so decided to be lazy this time but a little warning not to do the climb if you feel in any way claustrophobic in confined spaces, as the staircases are incredibly narrow.

Ponte Vecchio Bridge Florence
Ponte Vecchio

Our tour ended at the Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s famous bridge with an abundance of goldsmiths along its course. Our guide willingly hung around at the end of the tour until we had all, in turn, exhausted his recommendations for best pasta in Florence, best gelato and suggestions for other attractions to see in the city before we rewarded our morning of walking with a well-earned lunch.

Piazza della Republica Florence
Piazza della Republica

Have you visited Florence before? What did you think of the city?

Disclaimer: We were guests of Walks of Italy but I am opinionated little traveller (and wannabe-statue) and all views, good or bad, are entirely my own.


46 thoughts on “A Florence City Tour of David and the Duomo with Walks of Italy

  1. Florence, oh how I want to revisit now…
    (Ps. I think I have the same bag ;D)

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 8, 2015 — 8:01 pm

      Oh really? The dotty one? It doesn’t go with lots of my clothes but it’s so super practical for holidays!

  2. There’s so many wonderful things to see in Florence, we also did a walking tour which I think is definitely the only way to see the city xx

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 8, 2015 — 8:07 pm

      Definitely! One of the things I loved about Florence was the way in which it’s all so doable on foot but even having been once before, there were still attractions and places I came to know about this time that I’d never even heard of first time round ☺ x

  3. Lovely! I did a Walks of New York tour last year, they’re a sister concern of Walks of Italy, and the guide was really good too! Kept everyone engaged and entertained throughout the afternoon! Can’t wait to visit Florence myself 😊

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 8, 2015 — 8:09 pm

      Oh I remember reading about your New York tour I think Upasna, I hadn’t realised they’re under the same umbrella. I’ll have to remember that if and when I make it back to New York as this tour was fabulous!

  4. Glad you enjoyed the tour too! You just don’t find out much wandering around on your own so it’s great to have someone to tell you about all the history. I’m sure Gautam would have perfectly happy with you being his guide though 😉

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 8, 2015 — 8:11 pm

      Hehe, that’s sweet of you to have so much confidence in me but honestly, going on the tour made me realise just how little knowledge I’d actually picked up first time round! :mrgreen:

  5. Aw, you made a lovely statue Shikha! (I seriously love your outfit too;) ) I never used to be a fan of tours but in the last few years I’ve been doing more and I really do like all of the little details that you find out on them. There’s so much that you would miss out on if someone didn’t point it out to you.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 8, 2015 — 8:15 pm

      Hehe, thank you Emily. I’m not sure the maxi dress works on traditional sculptures, that’s the only thing! :mrgreen: Tours aren’t for everyone and I don’t take them for the sake of it when I travel but in some situations, like you say, they make such a difference towards the level of insight and understanding you get about a place and if the guides are enthusiastic and interactive, they can be good fun!

  6. It’s incredible to me that you do all of this traveling during your annual leave – it seems like you are always traveling and doing new things! It’s great that you’ve been able to do this! This post brought me way back to my high school trip to Italy! I remember all of these places but I don’t remember that much about them. My husband and I have Italy high up on our bucket list – I think that we would have to do a guided tour too! It seems like such a great way to learn and see things.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 8, 2015 — 8:20 pm

      Thank you Carolann! We’re lucky in the UK to get much more annual leave than many of my friends in the US so that definitely makes it easier to get more travel in. So lovely that you went in high school – whicb parts of Italy did you go to? I can completely see why you would want to come back. It’s probably my favourite European country and although I had been a couple of times in the past, this trip was my husband’s first time in Italy so it was lovely experiencing Italy with him this time round ☺

  7. Florance is absolutely beautiful and stunning. I really hope to make it there to admire its architecture.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 8, 2015 — 8:21 pm

      Hope you get to go soon Agness! The architecture is so stunning and it’s nice that it’s small enough to be able to walk around so much of the city easily!

  8. We loved our visit to Florence too, although we didn’t climb to the top of the Duomo either. How nice that you got to skip the queues for the museums thanks to your tour

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 8, 2015 — 8:23 pm

      Yes that was a real time saver this time round as when I first went, I did patiently stand in line! So glad to hear you enjoyed Florence too Suze – it’s really one of my favourite European cities ☺

  9. I have such a crush on David!

    Florence is just beautiful too, thank-you for reminding me. 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 8, 2015 — 8:24 pm

      Hehe, me too Katie! The only thing that made me feel better about staring at him longingly was the fact that virtually everyone else in the gallery was doing the exact same thing! 😁

  10. I love Florence, but have been in over 9 years! This makes me want to go back. Your David seems like he was a fun tour guide. xx

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 12, 2015 — 11:12 pm

      Lol, our guide was Bernardo but I think even he would understand how excited all of us would be if David was our guide :mrgreen: I can totally see why you love it Zoe – I do too and I wasn’t sure if I would still feel the same way 6 years after my first visit but I still loved it!

  11. I just had a few hours in Florence before moving on to Tuscany. Your words and pictures have given me a hankering to return…

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 12, 2015 — 11:14 pm

      Oh thank you Suzanne, I’m delighted to hear that! Funnily enough, I’ve got a real hankering to return to the Tuscan country because I’ve now been to Florence twice but never really ventured further afield and I know there is a lot more to Tuscany waiting to be explored ☺

  12. What a great way to explore the city! Love Florence such a pretty place!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 12, 2015 — 11:15 pm

      Isn’t it just?! Pretty and also a nice, easy city to explore on foot!

  13. clearly in ancient italy they had a lot of gyms!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 12, 2015 — 11:16 pm

      Haha, absolutely! He must have spent a fortune in gym membership! 😁

  14. The Duomo looks absolutely amazing! I’ve been hearing so many good things about Florence lately and I really can’t wait to get there and see for myself (only about a month now!). I’m also looking forward to seeing the David statue, though if the lines really are that long, then I may not want to bother. And P.S. the picture of you is too cute. I really love your dress!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 12, 2015 — 11:23 pm

      Aww thanks Anna! ☺ It’s my first ever maxi dress, as they’re nearly always too long for me to actually be able to walk in! The architecture of the Duomo is seriously breathtaking and even seeing it for the second time, I found myself struggling to take my eyes off it. Florence is probably one of my favourite European cities though it did seem more crowded this time in June than it had been when I went in March a few yeaes ago because I don’t remember the queues being quite that long. He is a handsome man is David though so if you do get time… :mrgreen: Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the city!

  15. This post brought back so many memories of my trip to Florence. Had gone with my girlfriends a few years ago and I still remember the moment we saw the statue of David… Everyone’s adolescent fantasies coming to life.. Lol! I’d love to go back to Florence.. I always believed that it’s a city frozen in time

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 12, 2015 — 11:32 pm

      Hehehe, I can totally imagine that Pooja! I think that’s one of the things that’s so special about this statue! So pleased to hear you enjoyed Florence! It’s just so charming isn’t it with such fine art, architecture and food. I really hope you get a chance to return again one day too ☺

  16. We were in Florence SO many years ago and we were at an age where this type simply did not interest us. All these years on… we cannot wait to get back to Italy and spend time appreciating everything it has to offer once again. And we will be sure to remember this tour when we get there:)

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 17, 2015 — 10:06 pm

      I hope you both have a great time in Italy – such a gorgeous country in so many ways! I know what you mean about not appreciating places fully because I too sometimes look back and feel the same way about places that I visited a long time ago but I guess that’s all part of our evolving travel styles over time ☺

  17. It’s still a dream of mine to someday visit Florence! *sigh* one day…

    C x | Lux Life

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 17, 2015 — 10:17 pm

      Oh you definitely should Catherine! Such a nice easy break from London and despite it getting a lot more crowded over the years, it’s still SUCH a charming city and so easy to explore on foot!

  18. Great post and Walks of Italy is fab. I love David 😉 Florence remains one of my favorite “big” towns of Italy 🙂 Cheers!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 17, 2015 — 10:22 pm

      Me too Ishita! Florence is beautiful and David is another level of beautiful! Even though I’d seen these sights before, the Walks of Italy tour gave me a much better understanding of the history so I was really glad I joined the tour!

  19. How beautiful all this is. Kind of surprising to hear women won’t be allowed with bare shoulders.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 23, 2015 — 8:53 pm

      Thank you Param! I really love the beauty of Florence, especially the pretty architecture and piazzas. Yes, they were quite strict about women having shoulders covered inside the Duomo – it’s been similar in some of the other Catholic churches I’ve been to in other European cities too so I try and go armed with a scarf nowadays!

  20. Ciao Shikha, I wish to thank you for your nice words, I’m glad that you & Gautam enjoyed my tour; I’m so pleased to hear your kind expression of appreciation for my job and for the time we spent together a couple of months ago. I wish you all the best and I really hope to see you again whenever you decide to come back to my hometown, or maybe in London.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 11, 2015 — 8:27 pm

      Hello Bernardo, so delighted that you have had a chance to read this post and for leaving such a kind comment! We truly had such an enjoyable and informative tour you and would like to say a huge thank you again! If I return to Florence, I’d love to take another tour with you and in the meantime, if you ever come to London, give me a shout as it would be lovely to say hello ☺

  21. The David statue was very impressive. I already saw a lot of photo’s of it but didn’t realize it was so huge untill I saw it, well worth the long wait.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 7, 2016 — 6:11 pm

      Definitely! I completely agree Angelina – the first time I went to Florence, we queued for ages to get inside the gallery to see David but it was totally worth it. Such an incredible sculpture!

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