FLORENCE, capital of the region of Tuscany, spreads on the banks of the Arno, between the Adriatic and the Tyrrhenian seas, almost in the middle of the Italian peninsula. It is a city which bustles with industry and craft, commerce and culture, art and science.
Florence, is an open air museum grown more beautiful over the centuries; a treasure chest enclosed by ancient walls that safeguard grandiose masterworks of art and architecture. It is considered by many academics to have been the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called “the Athens of the Middle Ages”. The city attracts millions of tourists each year, and UNESCO declared the Historic Centre of Florence a World Heritage Site in 1982.
Its turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family and numerous religious and republican revolutions.
Florence offered the world a stage for great artistic masters such as Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo.
Aimlessly wandering through Florence is magnificent: fabulous works of art appear at every turn in all their splendor!
The churches Santa Croce, San Miniato, Santa Maria Novella and San Lorenzo house some of the more important tombs, mosaics and frescoes. The Santa Croce church contains the monumental tombs of Galileo, Michelangelo, Dante, and many other notables. The Convent of Santa Maria Novella includes a Church of precious frescoes and works of art, and a Museum that comprises the famous Green Cloister and the Spanish Chapel.
The most famous palace in the city is San Lorenzo and the Medici Chapels, which has become a monument to the Medici family who ruled Florence during the 15th century.
The beating heart of Florence is Piazza del Duomo, with its monumental complex of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore known as “The Duomo”, whose magnificent dome was built by Filippo Brunelleschi, with a nearby Campanile Tower (by Giotto) and the Baptistery buildings; the San Giovanni or St. John’s Baptistry, a magnificent example of the Florentine Romanesque; and Giotto’s Campanile or Bell Tower, a Florentine Gothic architectural master work.
Piazza della Signoria represents the historical hub of civil and political life, and hosts the 13th-Century Loggia dei Lanzi, the Fountain of Neptune ( is a masterpiece of marble sculpture at the terminus of a still functioning Roman aqueduct), and the Palazzo della Signoria or Palazzo Vecchio, one of the city’s most symbolic monuments. In front of the Palazzo, statues, including a copy of Michelangelo’s famous David, stand tall.
Next to the Piazza is the marvelous Uffizi Gallery, one of the very finest art galleries in the world, hosting works by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and numerous other master artists. A remarkable architectonic element of the Uffizi Gallery is the Vasari Corridor, realized by Giorgio Vasari himself around the mid-Fifteenth Century; the Corridor connects the Gallery to the Palazzo Vecchio and the huge Pitti Palace.
Ponte Vecchio is an Everlasting Symbol of Florence, open all of the time, along the pedestrian zone south of Piazza della Repubblica towards Palazzo Pitti.
Built very close to the Roman crossing, the Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, was the only bridge across the Arno in Florence until 1218. The current bridge was rebuilt after a flood in 1345.
Crossing the suggestive Ponte Vecchio, with its storied gold workshops, we arrive in the Oltrarno quarter to encounter the scenographic piazza that give way to Palazzo Pitti, an imposing, sumptuous palace where resided the Medici and Lorena clans and lavishly decorated with the Medici family’s former private collection.
The Pitti boasts a wondrous park, the glorious Boboli Gardens; the Gardens are an exemplar of Italian garden landscaping.
The birthplace of the Renaissance pulls some 10 million visitors each year for its frozen-in-time palaces and legendary attractions, to say nothing of its tourist-friendly Tuscan cuisine and gelato stands.
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