Top things to do in Empoli near Florence

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One day in Empoli, what to do

Less known than the great art cities of Tuscany, Empoli is an interesting tourist alternative to consider as a destination for a day trip. Empoli is in fact a lively town rich in history and traditions, where you can visit many interesting museums and some monuments of all respect. The city is located at a distance of about 30 kilometers from Florence and is easily accessible by train.

Main points of interest in Empoli

Chiesa di Santo Stefano

Arriving in Empoli by train. one of the first monuments to be encountered is the Church of Santo Stefano degli Agostiniani. Built between the 14th and 15th centuries, the church contains some interesting works including the frescoes by Masolino da Panicale and a painting by Bicci di Lorenzo, San Nicola da Tolentino, which protects Empoli from the plague.

Piazza Farinata degli Uberti

Piazza Farinata degli Uberti is the heart of the historic center of Empoli. In this beautiful square surrounded by arcades, we find some of the most important buildings in the city such as the Palazzo Ghibellino and above all the Collegiata di Sant’Andrea. In the center of the square, the nineteenth-century Fontana delle Naiadi shows off, designed by Giuseppe Martelli, and enriched by the sculptures of Luigi Pampaloni, author of the nymphs, and by Luigi and Ottavio Giovannozzi, who instead created the tanks and lions that they are located at the corners of the fountain.

Things to do in Empoli: visit the Fontana delle Naiadi
Fontana delle Naiadi (Photo by Paola Pittori / CC BY)

Museo Civico di Paleontologia

Housed within the historic Palazzo Ghibellino, the Civic Museum of Paleontology documents over two billion years of Earth’s history through a short but interesting journey divided into five thematic rooms. The topics range from the birth and formation of the Solar System to the appearance of man on the Planet. In addition to the exhibition area, the museum also has an educational laboratory where activities dedicated to children are organized.

September-April: saturday and sunday 16.00–19.00
May-June: saturday and sunday 16.30–19.30
July: tuesday and thursday 21.30-23.30
August: closed


Collegiata di Sant’Andrea

The beautiful Collegiata di Sant’Andrea is a real jewel of Florentine-Romanesque architecture. Documented since the fifth century, the parish church of San Martino has a central role in the history of the foundation of the city of Empoli; in fact it is just around this church that, starting in 1119, the castrum Impoli, which is at the origin of today’s city, began to form.

An inscription on the facade informs us that the current building was built starting in 1093; as we said, the church is in Florentine Romanesque style with a beautiful facade in white marble and serpentine decorated with geometric motifs reminiscent of those of the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte and the Baptistery of Florence.

The interior, extensively modified over the centuries and heavily damaged during the Second World War, preserves some works of great value such as the triptych Madonna with Child between Saints Martino, Andrea, Agata and Giovanni Battista by Lorenzo di Bicci and Bicci of Lorenzo.

Collegiata di Sant'Andrea in Empoli
Collegiata di Sant’Andrea (Photo by Vignaccia76 / CC BY)

Museo della Collegiata di Sant’Andrea

The Museo della Collegiata di Sant’Andrea is located a stone’s throw from the Collegiate, in a small square adjacent to the main one. The museum boasts a highly respected collection, one of the largest in the entire area. Organized on two floors, for a total of 9 rooms, the collegiate museum houses paintings, sculptures and ceramics created between the 14th and 17th centuries by masters of the caliber of Filippo Lippi, Masolino da Panicale, Mino da Fiesole, Lorenzo Monaco and Andrea Della Robbia.

MUVE Museo del Vetro di Empoli

From one museum to another, we move on to the MUVE Museo del Vetro di Empoli. Housed in the ancient salt warehouse, this museum focuses on the production and processing of glass in Empoli. This manufacturing activity has been documented since the fifteenth century and had a role of primary economic importance for the city until most of the twentieth century. In particular Empoli is known for its green glass used in the production of flasks, demijohns and bottles. In addition to these objects of common use, inside the museum we can also appreciate artistic and ornamental artifacts.

Opening: 10.00-19.00

Tickets: regular 3,10 euro, reduced 1,60/1,10 euro


Museo del Vetro of Empoli
Museo del Vetro (Photo by Paola Pittori / CC BY)

Piazza della Vittoria

The last stop of ours in Empoli is in Piazza della Vittoria. Here we find the Casa Museo di Ferruccio Busoni, famous composer and pianist, and the seventeenth-century Santuario della Madonna del Pozzo which houses an important fifteenth-century fresco Madonna with Child and four saints.

Piazza della Vittoria in Empoli
Piazza della Vittoria (Photo by Uomodelfaro / CC BY)

What to see around Empoli

A short distance from Empoli, in the small village of Pontorme, is the house where Jacopo Carucci, known as “Il Pontormo“, was born in 1494. The casa natale del Pontormo is now open to the public with a museum itinerary that traces life and the works of the great artist through a multimedia installation and a series of reproductions of his works. In the immediate surroundings of Empoli I also point out the presence of the protected natural area of Arnovecchio and the large park of Serravalle which is often the site of events and festivals.

If you want information on other places to visit in the Empoli area I suggest you read our articles on Vinci, Cerreto Guidi, San Miniato and Castelfiorentino.

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