How I Visited Florence’s Museums for FREE!

I’m obsessed with museums: anyone who knows me knows this…if you don’t know that, chances are that you’ve never had a conversation with me or read one of my blog posts. The first time I visited Florence with EF Tours in high school (and fell in love), I didn’t have the opportunity to visit a single museum.

After almost two weeks in Florence, I had explored a few churches and gotten to know the neighborhoods, but, again, I hadn’t visited any museums. Then a blessing came: the first Sunday of the month.

In Italy, entrance to all national museums is free the first Sunday of the month. It can be a little tricky to know which museums are included; this is even trickier in Florence, where the city museums are free to Florentine citizens the first Sunday of the month.

When we left, there wasn’t a line at all!

We planned to wake up “early” on Sunday so we could get to the Galleria dell Accademia before it got too crowded…we started an hour later than we wanted to and stopped to check out Tiger (which is essentially a beautiful cross between Ikea and the dollar section at Target.) At about 11:00, we made it to the Accademia and discovered that it was only a few blocks from our apartment! I jumped in line while Emily went to go see how long it was–when she came back with the report that it wrapped around the corner and then there were about 50 people to the entrance. I was disappointed. I knew we should have gotten up earlier to beat the crowds. Twenty minutes later, we were walking through the entrance and I realized that I had misinterpreted Emily’s line analysis–she meant around the closest corner, not down the block and around that corner.

Parts of the Accademia were more crowded than others, which I expect is typical of a normal day at the museum. There were hardly any people in the (semi-seperate) Museum of Musical Instruments or on the second floor of the museum.

Photos do no justice–but look at the people at the bottom for size!

When we rounded a corner and came across Michelangelo’s “David,” I was in pure shock. I had heard that the sculpture was beautiful and seen the copy outside the Piazza Vecchio, but to see the real David is something that can truly only be understood if you see the piece in person. Photos and descriptions do absolutely no justice.

We ran into a few friends who were heading to the Uffizi (Florence’s other popular museum is also included in the first Sunday!), but we had a trip planned with our program provider this week. After reenergizing with panini from SandwChic, we decided to head to our second museum.

One of many beautiful ceilings!

After a bit of confusion, we settled on the Palazzo Pitti. This palace is an entirely overwhelming experience, with multiple museums housed inside the enormous building. It probably would have been a smarter choice to only conquer this museum, or to  spread Palazzo Pitti over a few days. Considering the fact that we were visiting for free, however, we thought we could do it all.

As we ventured from room to room, the frescoes and beautiful ceilings became less excited. The art blurred together and all felt the same.

The middle dress was my top choice of what I would wear from the overall exhibition.

In the Costume Institute, we were pretty dedicated to a game of “Which thing in this room would you wear?” After that, the downfall came. We still had a few areas of the Palace to visit…and by the end, we were just walking through the rooms. If you decide to visit the Palazzo Pitti, don’t be afraid to take some breaks; there’s a lot to look at and we were hit with a terrible case of museum fatigue.

Bobble Gardens was included with the Palazzo Pitti ticket, but by the time we had finished the palace, nothing sounded better than a cup of gelato. We headed back to the Duomo side of the river, stopped at Via Dei Neri Gelateria for a cheap gelato, and went home.

Visiting the Academia and Palazzo Pitti was a lot for one day–but the crowds weren’t horrible and it was definitely worth it to save some money. I’m waiting impatiently for my student membership card for the International Council of Museums to arrive; soon, every day will be free museum day for me.

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