What To Do in Florence… On a Monday
September 07, 2011
If you’re planning to be in Florence on a Monday while you’re traveling in Italy, you’ll quickly notice that many of the city’s must-see sites are… closed. The Accademia closes on Mondays, as does the Uffizi. So does the Palazzo Pitti.
We run some amazing tours in Florence, but we also want to make sure you enjoy every second of your holiday, so here’s our guide to the best sites open on Mondays in Florence.
The don’t-miss Duomo and the glorious Baptistery
Perhaps Florence’s most famous church, the Duomo is also the city’s most popular stop. And if you’re here on a Monday, you’re still in luck—the Duomo is open from 10am to 5pm. Feel like a hike? You can climb the 463 steps of the dome, open from 8:30am-7pm, or the 14th-century belltower begun by Giotto (414 steps!), open from 8:30am-7:30pm.
And don’t miss the Baptistery. You can stop by any time, of course, to admire its exterior Gates of Paradise, an early 15th-century rendering of some of the Bible’s most dramatic scenes. But if you want to actually enter the Baptistery—Florence’s oldest building, and resplendent with shimmering ceiling mosaics from the 13th century—then you’re good to go on Mondays. It’s open from 12:15pm-7pm.
For more information about the Duomo and Baptistery, click here. The Duomo is free; climbing the dome costs €8, no reductions; climbing the campanile costs €6, no reductions; the Baptistery costs €4, no reductions.
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo and Michelangelo’s (other) Pietà
Not all of Florence’s museums are closed on Mondays. One that remains open is the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, open 9am-7:30pm. It also happens to be Florence’s second-largest museum, a vast but navigable collection of Renaissance masterpieces. Among the best: Donatello’s statues for the Duomo’s campanile, the elaborate choir-lofts by Donatello and Luca della Robbia, Brunelleschi’s death mask, and Ghiberti’s original bronze panels for the Baptistery. That’s not to mention Michelangelo’s Pietà. No, not that Pietà—instead, the one he was working on when he was almost 80 years old… and that he intended for his own tomb. It’ll put shivers up your spine.
The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo is located at Piazza del Duomo 9. All tickets cost €6.
The Bargello, Florence’s biggest museum – and home to the “first” David
Depending on which Monday you’re in town, the Bargello, Florence’s largest museum, just might be open. That’s because it’s closed on the first, third, and fifth Mondays of the month and the second and fourth Sunday of every month. If you do happen to be there the other Mondays, you’ll find it much more tranquil than the packed Accademia and Uffizi. The 13th-century palazzo is full of gems. Don’t miss Michelangelo’s first big piece, the Bacchus that he carved at a tender 22 years old; Giambologna’s famous Mercury; or Donatello’s David, the sculpture of David before Michelangelo got to his version.
The Bargello is located at Via del Proconsolo 4. It costs €4 adults or €2 for E.U. citizens between 18-25 years old, and is free for E.U. citizens under 18 or over 65.
The Brancacci Chapel, one of Florence’s best art gems
Open on Mondays from 10am-5pm, the Cappella Brancacci of the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine also happens to be a must-see. That’s because Masaccio, the “father” of the Renaissance, started frescoing it in 1424… only to die shortly after. Enter Filippino Lippi, who finished the work 66 years later. That means that the frescoes are not only gorgeous, but show two different moments in Renaissance art.
The church is located on Piazza del Carmine. Entrance costs €4 for adults, €3 for those aged 18-25 and over 65, €1.50 for those aged 4-17, €9.50 for a family of 2 adults + 2 kids or €11 for 2 adults + 3 kids.
The Museo Galileo, a kid-friendly peek at Renaissance science
Even in Florence, the Renaissance wasn’t all art and architecture. For a break from nudes and frescoes, get yourself to Florence’s Museo Galileo, open from 9:30am-6pm on Mondays. The museum, a great option for kids, offers a real glimpse into the leaps made in science in the Renaissance era. It’s got everything from Galileo’s original instruments (including the lens he used to find the four moons of Jupiter) to a mechanical calculator from 1664 and even, most disturbingly at all, the middle finger of Galileo’s right hand, taken while he was being reinterred in Santa Croce after the posthumous decision that, actually, his heliocentric view of the universe didn’t really merit his Inquisition indictment.
The Museo Galileo is located near the Uffizi at Piazza dei Giudici 1. Tickets cost €8 adults, €5 for children aged 7-18 or seniors over 65, free for children 6 and under. The family ticket costs €20 for 2 adults + 2 children under 18.
The Museo Archeologico
Want to take a break from the Renaissance? Then delve back even further into Italy’s past. The city’s archaeological museum, open from 2pm-7pm on Mondays, is fantastic, with such masterpieces as this ancient Etruscan tomb (above), a sarcophagus from the 4th century B.C. that still has its painted scenes of battling Amazons, and the famous Chimera of Arezzo, a lifelike bronze lion from the 5th century B.C. If the upstairs section is closed, just ask for someone to open it.
The Archaeological Museum is located at Via della Colonna 36. It costs €4 adults, €2 for E.U. citizens between 18-25 years old and free for E.U. citizens under 18 or over 65.
Fantastic frescoes and Machiavelli’s office at the Palazzo Vecchio
You’ll run across the Palazzo Vecchio, the imposing, medieval fortress that served as the seat of the Florentine Republic, often while in Florence. So why not check out what’s inside? Open from 9am-7pm on Mondays, the Palazzo Vecchio includes the sumptuously-decorated rooms of the Medici family; Machiavelli’s office; Donatello’s Judith and Holofernes; and the famed Salone dei Cinquecento, where Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were meant to have a fresco face-off—but where Vasari painted over their attempts. Debate still ranges as to whether the masters’ original frescoes are hiding behind Vasari’s!
The Palazzo Vecchio costs €6 adults, €4.50 for those aged 18-25 and over 65, or €2 for children aged 4-17. The family ticket costs €14 for 2 adults + 2 children or €16 for 2 adults + 3 children.
A museum that’s only open Mondays: Orsanmichele
For once, it’s actually good if you’re in Florence on a Monday—that’s the only day the museum is open! The Church of Orsanmichele is famous for its facade, which is decorated with statues, done between 1340 and 1602, that were each done by a different Florentine guild. Artists involved were among the city’s best, including Ghiberti, Donatello, Pisano, and Giambologna. One by one, however, these statues are being restored and moved inside for their protection… into the museum. And guess what? Both the church and the museum are free.
The church and museum of Orsanmichele are located on Via Arte della Lana. The church is open from 10am-5pm all weekdays, the museum 10am-5pm Monday only.
The museum and church of Santa Maria Novella
One of Florence’s most beautiful churches, Santa Maria Novella is a Gothic masterpiece—and both it and its museum are open on Monday. Its real gems are all Renaissance, from a fresco by Masaccio to a crucifix by Giotto. Don’t miss the gorgeous frescoes by Filippino Lippi in the Strozzi chapel. When you’re done, wander into the Museo di Santa Maria Novella, open from 9am-5:30pm on Mondays. It’s a series of hidden, elaborately-frescoed cloisters, the Spanish Chapel with its 14th-century frescoes, and an exhibition of glittering vestments and liturgical treasures.
The museum and church of Santa Maria Novella are located at Piazza Santa Maria Novella. Church entrance costs €3.50, museum entrance €2.70.
The Boboli gardens
Need a break in the great outdoors? Then you’re in luck… maybe. The Boboli gardens, the enormous, formal gardens of the Palazzo Pitti, are open every Monday except for the first and last Monday of the month. As well as filled with beautiful landscaping, the garden boasts the Grotta del Buontalenti, a bizarre Mannerist grotto, filled with sculptures.
The Boboli Gardens open at 8:15am and close at 4:30pm Nov.-Feb., 5:30pm March and in October when DST ends, 6:30pm April, May, Sept. and Oct., and 7:30pm in June and August. Entrance is €7, which includes entrance to the Silver Museum, Costume Gallery, Porcelain Museum and Bardini Gardens, or €3.50 for E.U. citizens between 18 and 25 years old.
The church, library, and Medici chapels of San Lorenzo
If you’re a Michelangelo fan, you must make it to San Lorenzo. The church, supposed to be Michelangelo’s masterpiece, remained unfinished, giving the exterior rough and almost sad look. But head inside the church, open from 10am-5pm on Mondays, for a treat: bronze pulpits by Donatello, the last work by the artist who had such a huge influence on Michelangelo.
One of San Lorenzo’s neatest offerings, though, is the Biblioteca Laurenziana, open Mondays from 9:30am-1:30pm. An architectural delight, this library was designed by Michelangelo for the Medicis in 1524, and absolutely revolutionized architecture with its staircase that looks like it’s spilling and its columns that sink into walls. Meanwhile, the Medici Chapels, open on the second and fourth Monday of each month from 8:15am-5pm, serve as the resting place for some of the Medici family’s most important members… and for some of Michelangelo’s most important sculptures, which he created as tombs for his influential patrons.
The library and basilica are located at Piazza San Lorenzo. The basilica costs €3.50; the library costs €3 or €2.50 with a ticket from the Basilica of San Lorenzo. The Medici Chapels, located at Piazza Madonna degli Aldobrandini, cost €6 adults, €4 for E.U. citizens between 18 and 25 and free for E.U. citizens under 18 or over 65.
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