The birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence (Firenze) is possibly the most beautifully preserved and artistically rich city in the world. Here, artistic treasures and architectural masterpieces of the past blend with ancient streets lined with elegant boutiques, peaceful parks, streetside cafes offering steaming hot expresso and fresh biscotti, unforgettable dining establishments and breathtaking views at every turn. Set in a valley on the banks of the Arno, surrounded by olive groves and vineyards, Florence (Firenze) is one of the best-known and best-loved cities of the world. Striking buildings, treasure-filled galleries and ancient churches attest to the nature of the Florentines to proudly display their riches for all to enjoy. With the historical part of the city largely contained in a small area, many of the places to visit can be reached easily on foot where pedestrians often mingle between the popular mopeds dashing through the city streets.
Begin your adventure into the world of past and present in the Piazza della Signoria --The heart of the city's political life for centuries and home to some of Florence's most beautiful buildings. Stop at the Palazzo Vecchio, the long-established seat of Florentine government, built by Arnolfo di Cambio between 1298 and 1314. Linger long in the Galleria degli Uffizi in the Palazzo degli Uffizi , arguably one of the most outstanding art galleries on the earth displaying rooms filled with treasures by Giotto, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Van Dyck, Durer, and Tintoretto. Equally as breathtaking is the Galleria dell'Accademia, home to Michelangelo's David, the truly breathtaking masterpiece sculpted from a single block of marble, and the Museo del Bargello where the country's best collection of Tuscan Renaissance sculpture is on view.
Florence is known for its approach to art in every medium, not the least of which is the beautiful fashions, jewelry and fine leathers created by craftsmen who continue the inherited skills of the past to produce exquisite designs. A stroll down the Via de'Tornabuoni -- home to posh shops of designer fashions and over the 14th century Ponte Vecchio bridge, home to jewelry sellers since Medici times, to absorb the beautiful designs along with renaissance mansions. For bargains there's the open-air market near Piazza del Mercato Centrale where clothing, jewelry, and leather goods in particular are sold at reasonable prices. When it's time to rest, stop at Florence's beautiful Piazza della SS. Annunziata, or stroll the Renaissance gardens of the Palazzo Pitti. Sip an espresso in the fashionable cafes of the Piazza della Repubblica - once the site of a Roman forum. Indulge in delicious Tuscan cuisine in the Oltrarno area and around the Piazza del Mercato Centrale, or visit local hostelries to sip robust Tuscan wines. And as night falls end the day of discovery with tickets to one of the grand operas at the Teatro Verdi.
Florence is spellbinding. It is captivating to visit and so very difficult to leave!