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Florence Travel Guide

Florence Travel Guide

Seemingly eternal in its allure, Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and a treasure trove of Renaissance art and culture:

Despite being over-run with tourists for centuries, people continue to flock to holiday in Florence, an artistic, architectural and cultural gem. In a relatively small area, Florence contains a wealth of Renaissance art treasures on streets that were once walked by great artists like Michelangelo, Boticelli and Leonardo da Vinci. The entire historic old town of Florence is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is also known for its good shopping and great Tuscan cuisine. Florence is the launching pad for the stunning countryside, wine routes, Etruscan sites, and medieval hill villages of Tuscany, one of the most popular tourist region's in Italy.

No self-respecting European tourist can miss out on a holiday in Florence, which ranks as one of the must-see Italian destinations. Serious art-lovers, who are out to do more than just tick the destination boxes, also rank a holiday in Florence at the very top of their itineraries.

Best time to visit Florence

High season for a holiday in Florence is high summer (June to August), when the sun bakes down from the blue Tuscan skies. Crowds make this season unpleasant for serious art-lovers, however, and for a relatively quieter view it is best to travel here in spring or autumn (April, May, September, October), or even during the mild winter, although during this season visitors should anticipate rainy days. Read more on Florence's Climate and Weather.

What to see in Florence

-View an unrivalled panorama of the city from the cupola of the Cathedral of Florence.

-See the tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo in the beautiful Gothic church of Santa Croce.

-Marvel at the Renaissance sculpture collection in The Bargello, Italy's first national museum.

-Admire the art in The Uffizi, one of the world's greatest art galleries.

What to do in Florence

-Explore the many museums and landscaped gardens of Palazzo Pitti, the Medici family headquarters.

-Visit the world-famous Florence Accademia to see Michelangelo's statue of David.

-Wander by the quaint shops on Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence.

-Tour the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte, a superb example of Tuscan Romanesque architecture.

Beyond Florence

There are many fun and popular excursions from Florence into the surrounding Tuscan countryside and to nearby villages and cities: the scenic coastal stretch of Cinque Terre draws many visitors; the Chianti Wine Region could keep tourists occupied for days; famously charming Tuscan towns, like Siena and San Gimignano, are perfect for day-trippers from Florence; and Pisa, with its famous Leaning Tower, is also close by.

Getting there

Flights to Florence land at Florence City Airport and at Pisa Airport, 50 miles (80km) west of Florence. Many visitors also land at the Bologna G Marconi Airport which is conveniently close to a number of cities, including Florence. Get more information on Airports in Florence.

Did you know?

-The Via Chiantigiana, between Florence and Siena, is often called the most beautiful road in Italy.

-Florence Nightingale was named for the city where she was born.

-Florence became the first European city with paved streets in 1339.


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The Duomo, Florence © Italian Tourist Board

The principal Tuscan city of Florence (Firenze) nestles below the wooded foothills of the Apennines, along the banks of the Arno River. The works of Botticelli, Michelangelo, Bruneschelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Boccaccio, Alberti, Masaccio, Donatello, Vasari and Fra Angelico imbue the city with the magnificence of their contribution to art and life. The city itself is muse to some and home to many stylish citizens, who enhance the cobbled streets and fashionable piazzas with their inimitable Italian flair.

The heart of the city, where everyone from tourist to tout seems to congregate, is the Piazza de Duomo and the Piazza della Signoria. The statues dominating the Piazza della Signoria commemorate major historical events of the city's life, and the magnificent Palazzo Vecchio still performs its original role as Florence's town hall. The adjacent Uffizi is the oldest art gallery in the world, with a collection of the greatest works of the Renaissance, commissioned largely by the Medici family. The man who founded the great long-ruling Medici dynasty was Cosimo il Vecchio. His legacy is imprinted in the city's northern area, marked by the churches of San Lorenzo, San Marco and the Palazzo Medici Riccardi.

The western stretches of the city are formed by Florence's railway station at one end and the Ponte Vecchio at the other. The quaint Ponte Vecchio bridge was built in 1345, and was one of the few areas to emerge unscathed from the wartime bombs. Little workshops that used to belong to butchers, tanners and blacksmiths peer onto the river from their timber supports. The church of Santa Maria Novella also rises from the city's western boundaries in true gothic splendour, preserving some of the most important works of art in Florence.

The Oltrarno (meaning 'over the Arno') area became the place from which the Medici ruled from the Palazzo Pitti. The magnificent Boboli Gardens were designed and laid out around it. The area surrounding Via Maggio and Piazza di Santo Spirito boasts a collection of other palazzi built during the 16th and 17th-centuries.

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