When Stendhal the French author first visited Florence he was so overwhelmed by the beauty of its art treasures that he fainted in front of the Basilica di Santa Croce...and he's not the only one this has happened to. These days they call it Stendhal syndrome and it's an officially recognised syndrome that causes “heartbeat, dizziness, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly beautiful or a large amount of art is in a single place."

But there are many ways to see some of:

Florence for FREE

...or at least for less...

Florence isn't just a beautiful city it's home to some of the world's most lauded Renaissance art, housed in Art Palaces like the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace - just one reason why it so often appears on Italian itineraries alongside Rome and Venice.

The catch is that most of Florence's art comes with a price tag, even if you only want to look at it not take it home. It's not just the Uffizi that charges, some of Florence's churches are also blessed with some wonderful art treasures, but in recent years they've started charging admission as well. The Basilica di Santa Croce and the Basilica of San Lorenzo are €5 and €3.50 respectively, and once you add another €15 for the Uffizi the expense mounts up quickly, not leaving much for your stroll along the Ponte Vecchio.

While real art lovers aren't going to miss a trip to the Uffizi which they're probably travelling all the way to Italy to stroll around – if you're not quite as set on seeing 'the Great works' but are happy to see great works, then you might want to consider these free options:

The some of the Duomo's great art treasures have been moved into the museum next door which has an entrance fee, but quite a number of pieces remain, including a painting of Dante and the Divine Comedy, a huge clock with portraits of the prophets and 44 stained glass windows.

  • Basilica of Santa Maria del Santo Spirito

    The Basilica of Santa Maria del Santo Spirito, more often called Santo Spirito looks very sparely designed and decorated while …

  • Ognissanti

    Meaning All Saints, Ognissanti was a 13th Century Franciscan church which was redesigned in the Baroque style in the 17th Centu…

  • Santa Trinita

    Santa Trinita has a less ornate facade than some of Florence's churches: it's an understated beauty that bids you take the time…

  • San Miniato al Monte

    The San Miniato al Monte is probably worth visiting for its exterior – it's so flat it looks almost like a theatrical set, but …

  • Orsanmichele

    Orsanmichele's art treasures have been sculptured rather than painted. There's no David here but there's a St. Mark and St. Ge…

  • Santissima Annunziata

    Santissima Annunziata is the spiritual home of the style of painting called Florentine Mannerism whose 'poster child' is the 'L…

The Piazza della Signoria is Florence's main square and another place to see some free art: there's a copy of 'David', a bronze of Cosimo I on his horse by Giambologna, copies of 'il Marzocco' and 'Judith and Holofernes' by Donatello and 'Perseus with the Head of Medusa' by Cellini. As well as this static art the piazza is also a prime spot to be wowed at the standard of Florence's street theatre. Once you've taken in some free art you might have a little something left over for the nearby Ponte Vecchio – which, as well as being a really good place to buy a unique piece of gold jewellery, is also worth appreciating the architecture of – it's Florence's oldest bridge and, as the story goes, too beautiful for even Hitler to want to bomb.

Shopping isn't free, but like the Ponte Vecchio, some shopping areas have an appeal beyond the commercial – the Mercato Nuovo for example, which sells traditional as well as tourist wares and has more statues to garnish it decoratively, the Mercato Centrale and the Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, which is one of, if not the, oldest pharmacy in the world.

But one of the best things free things to do in Florence is to walk around town. You can see from the above lists how much art there is just lying around waiting for you to notice it – just don't let it overwhelm you like it did poor Stendhal.

For help planning the details of your inexpensive trip to Florence contact one of our Italian Travel Specialists 

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