Tuscan’s capital is an intriguing city for the newcomer, and becomes a wonderful experience once one is acquainted with it a little. With its museums, palaces and churches, Florence is an artistic and cultural treasure, since various centuries an international touristic destination. “Cradle to the Renaissance”, Florence enjoyed its greatest economical, political and cultural splendour in that period, thanks to the Famiglia Medici, which governed it and favoured a golden age whose fruits we can admire to the present day.
Among the best known and celebrated artistic and religious monuments are the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Bargello, the Gallery of the Accademia and the Gallery of the Uffizi, one of the oldest and most beautiful museums in the world, with masterpieces of artists such as Botticelli, Raffaello, Michelangelo, Tiziano, Leonardo, Mantegna, and many others.
The churches of Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce are art galleries of their own, as the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana is an exceptional expression of Michelangelo’s architectural genius. We advise to save some time in order to visit Palazzo Pitti, the residence of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, inhabited by the Medici, the Lorraine and then the Savoia, an impressive building hosting three museum, with art collections and paintings, and venues for important events in culture and fashion.
But when you are eventually tired of art museums, go outside and you will soon discover that Florence is wonderful simply for wandering in the alleys and streets of the historical centre, with its typical cafes and taverns, the wine bars and a thousand small restaurants and eateries, the picturesque markets, the open spaces with impressive vistas of the city, the beautiful Lungarni, the many artisan workshops, where the ancient trades and techniques are preserved to the present day. And then there are the great streets dedicated to luxury fashion and high-class shopping.
You can also reach the Arno and stop on the romantic Ponte Vecchio with its dazzling jeweller’s shops, and then discover the squares opening before your eyes: Piazza della Signoria, the throbbing heart of the city, imposing Piazza della Repubblica, San Lorenzo and its wonderful church by Brunelleschi, and its colourful open markets.
An enticing place is via dei Tornabuoni and the streets around, with the many luxury shops and the seats of the most famous Italian and international fashion brands, jeweller’s and antique shops, imposing palazzi and staggering window displays. Enjoy the historical cafes of the downtown, the taverns with typical cuisine, the ancient wine merchants’ shops with their local products. For nightlife lovers, you can end the day in the Santo Spirito district, with its thousand pubs and clubs, the place where the action is in town.
Another place you should not miss is the Boboli garden, a historical park and a beautiful example of Italian-style gardens, rich with flowers, colours and odours, fountains and statues, adorned by small architectural masterpieces. Through the Boboli garden you can access, climbing a baroque flight of steps, Florence’s main belvedere (Piazzale Michelangelo) that commands a great view of the city.
Also the outskirts and the surrounding countryside are beautiful, with many villas of the Medici family, and, high in a dominating position, the impressive and charming Chartreuse of the Galluzzo.