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Florence Travel Information

Birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence has gained a rich artistic and cultural legacy, a celebration of the works of Michelangelo, Botticelli and Giotto.

Florence
Florence
Italy

This heritage can be seen in the myriad of museums, galleries and lavish architecture that crowd the narrow streets of this truly romantic city.

Small enough to explore on foot, and set within the gentle green valley of the river Arno, this beautiful city is a classic choice for a short break.


Florence Travel and Flight Information

Although Florence has 400,000 inhabitants and has grown to incorporate a wider area of 11km (7 miles) by 8km (5 miles), the centre of Florence – steeped in history and rich in artistic and architectural treasures – is like a living museum, so well preserved are the buildings (though crumbling in places).

Birthplace of the Renaissance and the one-time financial centre of Europe, it is home to a wealth of monuments, museums, churches and great libraries, most of which are situated on the north bank of the river, within a triangle created by the river and 2 main roads and covering an area of around 2.8km (1.75 sq miles). The most popular attractions are quite stunning and even the hordes of tourists which buzz around them at all times cannot detract from their initial impact (although prolonged exposure to the crush can be irritating).

Cafes, restaurants and Italian ice-cream parlours line the streets near all major attractions, and the streets themselves are narrow and quite dark as tall buildings block out the sun. There is an extensive pedestrianised area in the centre, but the concept is loosely interpreted with buses, thousands of mopeds, bicycles, 3-wheeled postal vehicles, police cars and delivery trucks all having access. You can escape from the slightly claustrophobic tangle of streets along the river side or at Boboli Gardens on the south side of the river, where it's possible to walk up into the beginnings of the Tuscan hills and look down on Florence from above. Temperatures and humidity soar in the summer months and the best temperatures – and most tourists – are found in spring and autumn; August is low season, as the locals tend to take their holidays at this time and many of the more quality restaurants are closed.

Florence

Area
In the region of Tuscany, three-quarters of the way up the "boot" of Italy; inland, midway between the Ligurian and Adriatic seas. 80km (50 miles) east of Pisa. 4.8km (3 miles) south east of Amerigo Vespucci airport. In a low-lying position on the banks of River Arno, surrounded by high Tuscan hills.

Where to Stay
Great range of small to medium sized hotels and pensions of all categories, but prices tend to be pretty high.

What to Do
Daytime: the famous green and white cathedral (Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore), topped by Brunelleschi's dome and with associated museum; Uffizi art gallery offering masterpieces by great artists, from Botticelli to Rembrandt; Academy Gallery housing Michelangelo's David; Modern Art Gallery, in Pitti Palace, containing works by 19th- and 20th-century Tuscan artists; Silver Museum displaying treasures from the Medici family collection; church of Santa Croce with the tombs of Galileo, Machiavelli and Michelangelo; other churches include Santa Maria Novella and San Lorenzo; the extensive Boboli Gardens.

Nightlife: late-night dining; a dozen piano bars; about 10 discos; 5 cinemas; rock, jazz and classical music concerts; Teatro Puccini for modern theatre; Teatro Comunale for opera, concerts and ballets; Teatro della Pergola for classical drama.

Must See
Duomo and Baptistry
Pitti Palace and the Royal Apartments of the Medici
Boboli Gardens

Must Do
Uffizi Gallery - home to the famous masterpieces such as Botticelli's Birth of Venus
Galleria Dell' Accademia - home to Michelangelo's original David.

Michelangelo David
Michelangelo's 'David'

Clime to the top of the Campanile for panoramic views of the city.
If you like shopping, you will find designer shops around via dei Tornabuoni; the Ponte Lorenzo market is excellent for leatherwear.

Restaurants
A full range of restaurants and Italian pizzerias to suit all budgets. Local family owned trattorias are popular and offer food typical of the region. Traditional fare is simple and rustic, with basic ingredients centring around white beans, polenta and the ubiquitous pasta. Regional specialities include grilled steak and baccala, a dish consisting of dried cod cooked with oil, garlic and pepper. Chianti is the local wine.

Shops
Florence is the fashion capital of Italy with lots of upmarket boutiques and shoe shops in the shopping area stretching from the station to the cathedral. Expensive gold and jewellery shops surround Ponte Vecchio. Various markets, including San Lorenzo for local produce, some bargain souvenirs and quality leather goods; antique markets on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of every month. Gucci and Prada outlets a little outside the city.

Excursions
Half day tour: nearby country houses and gardens; interesting, historically rich towns and villages including Fiesole, Pisa, Lucca and Montecatini Terme.

Full day tour: Siena; San Gimignano.

Getting Around
A cheap, comprehensive, colour-coded bus service covers the city. One ticket is valid for 60 mins, regardless of how many buses taken or distance travelled. Tickets are purchased from main bus stations or from tobacconists and punched in a machine on the bus. Other tickets are available for 3 hours, 1 day or 7 days. Plenty of taxis but – although metered – they tend to be expensive; taxi ranks can be found on most piazzas and by the train station. Florence is a compact city and can be easily explored on foot or by bus. There are good train links to other Italian cities.

Who is it for?
International visitors of all ages are attracted by the art, architecture and history, often as part of a tour.

To Relax
Take a walk to Piazziale Michelangelo for some of the best views of Florence.
Walk up to San Miniato al Monte, one of the most beautiful Romanesque churches in Italy, then stroll back along the river.
Enjoy a Florentine steak with the local Chianti in one of Florence's many restaurants.

Weather
Daily average temperatures (Approx) 'C

JAN 10 FEB 12 MAR 15 APR 19 MAY 23 JUN 27 JUL 31 AUG 30 SEP 26 OCT 21 NOV 15 DEC 10

Not to Miss in Florence

> Cradle of the Renaissance, packed with treasures of art and architecture

> The Uffizi is Italy's finest art gallery and the Accademia houses 'David'

> Home to Brunelleschi's Cathedral Dome, Giotto's Bell Tower and the Baptistry doors by Ghiberti

> Visit the Goldsmiths on the Ponte Vecchio or shop at the lively markets of San Lorenzo

> Cross the Arno and climb to San Miniato for a panoramic view of Florence

> Sip Chianti in the medieval Piazza della Signoria, scene of Savanorolas Bonfire of Vanities and later of his execution

> Florence is the city of Dante, Machiavelli and the Medici

> Take a trip to beautiful Sienaor or Pisa with its leaning tower.


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