Florence is so busy year-round that you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s open 24/7. In fact, some of the Florence’s biggest attractions are closed one day each week – Monday. This isn’t likely to factor into your vacation planning until you arrive in the city, however, so if your itinerary puts you in Florence on a Monday you’ll need a list of alternate things to do.
The good news is that not only are there several things to do in Florence that are open on Mondays, they’re pretty excellent attractions – many of them may already be on your must-see list.
Here’s what’s open on Mondays in Florence so you can best plan your time in the Tuscan capital.
There are affiliate links below, which means I get a little something if you book one of these tours – but it won’t cost you anything extra. Thanks.
The centerpiece of the historic part of Florence, the Duomo is a must-see in the city. Not only is this beautiful cathedral open on Mondays – and free to visit – you can also climb up into the dome (for a fee) for one of the best views in Florence. Another excellent view comes at the top of the bell tower next to the Duomo – the Campanile – and in this case, the views include close-ups of the cathedral’s red-roofed dome. The baptistery, just outside the front doors of the Duomo, is also open on Mondays and well worth a visit.
When the Arno River last flooded so dramatically in 1966, much of the artwork inside the Duomo was damaged. It was removed for restoration work, and most of it never made it back into the cathedral. Instead, the Duomo’s art is on display in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, located behind the church. The museum reopened in 2015 after a massive makeover and the redesign is stunning.
Here, you’ll not only get to see pieces that once graced the cathedral walls, you’ll also see a a haunting wooden carving of Mary Magdalene by Donatello and a Pietà carved by Michelangelo that includes a self-portrait. This sculpture is unfinished – he was nearly 80 when he was working on it – and he meant for it to be on his own tomb. Ghiberti’s remarkable bronze panels from the baptistery doors are also in the museum (the ones on the baptistery outside are replicas).
Sidebar: The bathrooms at the museum got a gorgeous makeover, too, so use this as a pitstop before the next point on your itinerary.
Right around the corner from the Uffizi is the Palazzo Vecchio, dominating one side of the Piazza della Signoria and the former home of the Medici family before they moved across the Arno to the Pitti Palace. Today, the Palazzo Vecchio is a museum, in which you can see some of the Medici family’s living quarters as well as some fantastic artwork. One of the highlights of a visit is seeing the large Salone dei Cinquecento. Its walls feature frescoes by Vasari, but some believe there are frescoes by both Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo underneath Vasari’s work.
The Pitti Palace and all of its museums on the Oltrarno side of the river may be closed on Monday, but that doesn’t mean there’s no reason to cross the river. Head for the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine to see the Brancacci Chapel, full of exquisite frescoes that date from 1424. The original artist who began the fresco cycle was Masaccio, credited by many experts as having given rise to what we now call Renaissance art, but he died not long after starting the work. The rest of the cycle was finished more than 60 years later by Filippino Lippi.
The Bargello is one of my favorite museums in Florence. Its collection is largely made up of sculptural works, including an early Michelangelo statue of Bacchus, a statue of Mercury by Giambologna, and a graceful statue of David by Donatello. The building housing the museum is interesting, too, as it’s a former jail (hence the name). The Bargello Museum isn’t open every Monday, but if you’re in Florence on the first, third, or fifth Monday of the month then you’re in luck.
After seeing the multi-colored facade of the Duomo, it’s tempting to overlook the Basilica of San Lorenzo because of its unfinished exterior – but don’t skip it. Inside, you’ll get to see the tombs of some of the most famous Medici in the Medici Chapels, which are adorned with Michelangelo sculptures. Not only that, the church complex also includes the Biblioteca Laurenziana with a gorgeous staircase and reading room designed by Michelangelo.
The Orsanmichele church, a former granary, is open all week long, but the small museum in the church’s upper floors is only open on Mondays – so this is a perfect attraction to take advantage of when you’re in Florence on a Monday. The museum is where the old granary used to be, and the highlight of a visit is seeing the original statues that once occupied each of the niches around the exterior of the building. Some of the sculptures were made by artists with names you’ll recognize – including Donatello, Ghiberti, Giambologna, and Pisano.