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Florence - Capital City of Tuscany

Florence, known locally as Firenze, is the most populous city in Tuscany with around 1.5 million people in the surrounding area.

The city is well know in history for its importance as the birth place of the Renaissance, particularly for its art and architecture. It holds some of the finest and largest collections such as those found in the Accademia Gallery.

The Basilica of Santa Croce is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile and Rossini.

The city centre has been declared a World Heritage Site and is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Top 5 things to do in Florence

Basilica Santa Maria del Fiore

Sometimes referenced on maps Florence Cathedral, construction of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore began in 1296 and work continued until the end of the 19th century.

Located in Piazza del Duomo, the cathedral complex also includes the Baptistery and Giotto's Campanile and is classed as a world heritage site.

The dome on the cathedral is the largest brick dome ever constructed and can be seen from miles away.

Approaching the cathedral you will be greeted by three huge bronze doors dating from 1899 to 1903 and are adorned with scenes from the life of the Madonna.

The interior of the buildings are Gothic styled and contain many Tuscan works of art.

Opening times and prices vary considerably for the different parts of the complex so best to review these on the website before visiting.

Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio translates to Old Bridge in Italian. This medieval bridge over the Arno River is still used today by local merchants who have their shops here.

Traditionally home to butchers, the present traders now cater for the tourist industry selling jewelry, souvenirs, food and drink.

Although there is no official documentation regarding it's construction, it is widely believed to have been first built in Roman times. The first mention of the bridge was in a document dated 996.

A very popular and quirky tourist attraction both during the day and at night when it is lit up.

Piazza della Signoria

The Piazza della Signoria is one of the most popular visited tourist areas in Florence and is also a favourite meeting place for the local Florentines. There are so many different artistic pleasures to enjoy in this square, perhaps best enjoyed sitting in one of the numerous coffee shops located in the piazza .

The impressive 14th century Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace) with its crenellated tower is the town hall of the city and dominates the square. Close to the Palazzo Vecchio stands the copy of Michelangelo's "David" which has always tourists flocking to admire this work of art. The original is kept secure at the Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts.

Nearby under the wide arches of the Loggia dei Lanza are a gallery of more statues of great beauty including the famous Cellini's "Perseus with the Head of Medusa" which took the sculptor ten years to complete.

Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery is one of the oldest and most famous art museums of the western world.

Building of the Palazzo degli Uffizi palace was begun in 1560 and ended in 1581. It served mainly as the administrative offices and archives of the state.

Over the years, further parts of the palace evolved into a display place for many of the paintings and sculptures.

Artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo gathered at the Uffizi "for beauty, for work and for recreation."

The collections owned by the Uffizi are vast and consequently many have been transferred to other museums in the region.

Advanced ticket reservation is a must during the busy summer seasons unless you're not bothered waiting a queue for 5 hours.

Palazzo Pitti

Known also as Pitti Palace, this vast complex is situated on the south side of the River Arno, a short distance from the Ponte Vecchio.

The central part of the palazzo dates from 1458 and was originally the town residence of Luca Pitti, an ambitious Florentine banker.

The palace was bought by the Medici family in 1549 and became the chief residence of the ruling families of Tuscany. It grew as a great treasure house as later generations amassed paintings, plates, jewelry and luxurious possessions.

Today, it houses several minor collections in addition to those of the Medici family, and is fully open to the public.

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