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Florence is the capital of the region of Tuscany in Italy, with a population of about 366,500. The city is considered a cultural, artistic and architectural.
Florence was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Politically, economically, and culturally it was the most important city in Europe for around 250 years; from some time before 1300 until the early 1500s.
Best time to travel
Florence is always buzzing with tourists, you will find them in large groups surrounding attractions such as the Duomo di Firenze, even in the worst weather. If you are looking to visit and experience warm weather, head to Florence in early April before it becomes too hot and humid in the city.
Florence's Amerigo Vespucci international airport (FLR) has good connections to the center of the city, which can be reached in about fifteen minutes by taxi or bus. The Ataf-Sita "Vola in Bus" and makes the circuit between the airport and the central train station every half an hour.
Modern, fast trains connect Florence with Italy's main cities, and local trains from other parts of Italy and express trains from around Europe arrive in Florence. The main station is Firenze Santa Maria Novella, on the edge of the historic old town. Other small stations are Firenze Campo Marte (near Florence Stadium) and Firenze Rifredi.
Most of the major tourist sights in Florence are within easy walking distance of each other. It is possible to walk from one end of the historic center of Florence to the other - North-South or East-West in a half hour. Walking is not only an easy way to get around, it also offers the chance to 'take in' much more of the city life.
There is a bike rental service organized by the city. Bikes can be hired at several points in the city. One of the most convenient for tourists is located at SMN station. There are other locations at many railway stations, but often with restricted opening hours.
What to see
In the old town center:
Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo di Firenze is the city's beautiful cathedral, the symbol of the city. Brunelleschi's huge dome was an engineering feat of the rennaissance. A statue of Brunelleschi is sited in the piazza, with his figure looking upwards towards his dome.
Giotto's Tower- adjacent to the Duomo, you can climb the tower for a magnificent 360-degree view of the Duomo, Florence, and the surrounding area, and requires some tenacity to climb 414 steps.
Baptistery famous for bronze doors by Andrea Pisano and Lorenzo Ghiberti and a beautiful interior the vault of which is decorated with 13th century mosaics.
Palazzo Vecchio - old city palace/city hall, adorned with fine art. The replica of Michelangelo's "David" is placed outside the main door in the original location of the statue, which is a symbol of the Comune of Florence. The site displays an important collection of Renaissance sculptures and paintings, including the Putto, by Verrochio, and the series of murals by Giorgio Vasari at the Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of the Five Houndreds) - the hall which used to display the now lost Renaissance masterpiece, that is, the so-called Battaglia di Anghiari, by Leonardo da Vinci.
Ponte Vecchio the oldest and most famous bridge over the Arno; the only Florentine bridge to survive WW2. The Ponte Vecchio (literally "old bridge") is lined with shops, traditionally mostly jewellers since the days of the Medici. Vasari's elevated walkway crosses the Arno over the Ponte Vecchio, connecting the Uffizi to the old Medici palace.
Santa Croce church contains the monumental tombs of Galileo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Dante, and many other notables in addition to artistic decorations. There is also great artwork in the church.
Santa Maria Novella, near the train station, is a beautiful church and contains great artwork, including a recently restored Trinity by Masaccio.
Orsanmichele a beautiful old church from the 14th century, which once functioned as a grain market
San Lorenzo the facade of this church was never completed, giving it a striking, rustic appearance. Inside the church is pure Renaissance neo-classical splendor. If you go around the back of the church, there is a separate entrance to the Medici chapels.
San Marco Convent (1436) houses frescoes by Fra Angelico and his workshop. Fra Angelico painted a series of frescoes for the cells in which the Dominican monks lived.