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Guide to Florence

Once known as the Athens of the Middle Ages.  Today, Florence is the jewel in Italy’s cultural crown with much to fascinate and intrigue any visitor.

Florence is the capital and largest city in the region of Tuscany, on Italy’s west coast.  It is home to around half a million inhabitants. 

Since it was founded first century B.C., Florence has had a reputation as one of the world’s most innovative cities, making many contributions to civilisation.  It is well-known as the birthplace of Renaissance art.  Where Dante founded the Italian language; where legendary artists Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo rubbed shoulders, and as one of the wealthiest cities in the world, was also the origin of the banking industry. 

Today, Florence remains a fascinating and beautiful city.  It has been described as a walking museum, and is small enough to see on foot. 

The centre of Florence is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with stunning art and architecture in abundance.  It was here that influential Renaissance architect Filippo Brunelleschi designed the city’s magnificent gothic cathedral, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, more widely known as the Duomo.  The must-see cathedral is located at Piazza del Duomo.  It is a magnificent piece of architecture, and one of the country’s largest churches, with the largest brick dome in the world.  Brunelleschi is honoured by a statue on site.  Entrance is free, but there is often a long line to get in.  Pay to climb the dome for an extraordinary view over Florence.

From here you can walk to the impressive Romanesque Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall of Florence.  Don’t be fooled by the statute of David, it is a replica.  Michelangelo’s original famous nude can be seen at the city’s Accademia Gallery.

If on a budget, buy a Firenze card.  This 72 hour card gives users free admission to public transport and many of the city’s major museums, such as the Museo di Palazzo Vecchio and Galleria d’arte moderna. 

End a day’s sightseeing by heading towards the San Niccolò area, on the left bank of the River Arno.   Here you’ll find the Piazza Poggi tower (also known as the Torre di San Niccolo) which offers beautiful views over the city.  If feeling brave, climb the 161 steps to the top.  From here you can see up to the Piazzale Michelangelo.  Afterwards, take a hard-earned refreshment and rest in the neighbourhood’s typical Florentine bars or restaurants and enjoy the excellent Tuscan food and drink.

There is always something to enjoy in Florence.  It celebrates all year round with many festivals and events such as opera and theatre seasons, design week, fashion week, and even a gelato festival!