City guide to Florence

Introduction to Florence

Ponte Vecchio in Florence

Florence lies along the Arno River and is 177 miles north from Rome, a pleasant 3 hour drive to enjoy the lush Italian countryside scenery. If you prefer to fly to Florence they do have two airports in the city. When people speak of the birthplace of the Renaissance they are speaking of Florence. You will find Florence to be a large city with many museums, art galleries, churches and hotels and fine restaurants to enjoy fine Italian cuisine. Not only do they offer great food but many are located on picturesque piazzas. The Florentine menu grew out of traditional peasant eating and most of the dishes were based on meat. Tourism is the most significant industry in Florence and from April to October the tourist outnumber the locals. The temperatures in Florence range from a low of 40F in January and high of 80F in July.

Getting around Florence is not a problem so bring your best walking shoes because walking is the best way to experience Florence. If walking isn’t for you but you want to see the sites you can purchase a day pass to visit the tourist attraction away from the city center from a tourist bus. Maps and timetables are available at visitor’s kiosks for bus and coaches which usually arrive and depart form Stazione Centrale di Santa Maria Novelia which is the main train station in Florence. No matter how you plan on getting around the city enjoy it to the fullest.

While visiting the city take in some of the museums, be sure not to miss the Academia Gallery which contains many famous statues by Michelangelo including his “David”. Some other museums you might enjoy are Duomo Museum, Medici Chapels, Musem of Archeology and Palazzo Srozzi to name a few. Visit the museum that is dedicated to Galileo, who was a physicist, astronomer and philosopher. He is considered the person responsible for modern science. While there you can see his first telescope and other experiments he worked on. You can leave the museum and visit his tomb where he is depicted as gazing up at the stars.

The Piazzale Michelangelo will certainly be a highlight. You can hike to the top of the hill side and have a fantastic panoramic view of Florence and the Arno valley. This is a very popular spot for locals and tourists alike. The Piazzale has a replica of the statue “David”. Stop into San Minatoal Monte, a beautiful basilica near the Piazzale and view the amazing Renaissance art that is housed there. Rest on one of benches and enjoy the view or have lunch at a 5 star restaurant before heading back down the hillside. On the way down stop and enjoy the beautiful rose garden locate there.

When back in the city proper stop at Giotto Tower that is next to the Duomo Cathedral. The tower is a tall white bell tower with a winding stair case that you can climb if you wish. The tower is 312 feet tall. The Duomo is Florence’s tallest building and the city’s most famous landmark. This gothic cathedral dominated the skyline and is considered to be the center of the city. It was completed in 1463. Inside the cathedral the painting of the “Last Judgment” by Vasari and Zuccari can be seen.

Like most visitor you will be looking for souvenirs to bring home to family and friend. Popular items include Italian shoes and clothes as well as jewelry. There are lots of small shops and boutiques scattered throughout the city. If you want to buy jewelry, many shops are found on the Ponte Vecchio. You can also shop at the central market for some fresh fruit and veggies that are sold on the second floor of the building. What a refreshing snack that would be.

Music and the performing arts are an important part of the culture of Florence. Enjoy a concert at the symphony. Not only are the performing arts important to the economy of Florence but so is the film industry. Numerous movies were set there like “Tea with Mussolini” and “A Room with a View”. The city is home to renowned Italian actor such as Roberto Benigni, Leonardo Pieraccioni, and Vittoria Puccini.

There is so much more in Florence for you to enjoy you won’t have a free moment if you want to take it all in. Pack your bags and have a great vacation.

Photo by Augen.Blicke on flickr

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