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Florence Italy tourist information:

brief history of italy il duomo

Florence, which lies in the thriving heart of Tuscany, can best be described as the Renaissance capital of the world and a living breathing exhibition of art and Italian culture. It abounds with some of Italy's most extraordinary museums, basilicas, churches, piazzas (squares) and architecture. The majestic Arno River meanders through the center lending yet another dynamic to this already pictorially blessed city.



Making the most of your valuable time in Florence Italy...

Strolling through the center of Florence is a pleasure, the characterful narrow streets which are mostly closed to traffic are full of surprises and temptations. A good starting point is the Piazza della Signoria, it's the heart of Florence's historic center and an open-air art exhibit. The Loggia della Signoria, which sits on the square, contains a collection of some of the most valuable artworks in the world.

Head down Via Borgo San Lorenzo and you will find il Duomo (the Dome), probably Florence's most popular tourist attraction. The given name is Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore.

Brunelleschi designed the Dome (il Duomo), which highlights the stunning Chiesa Santa Maria del Fiori, and many climb the 463 steps to the bell tower to enjoy the panoramic view over Florence. The cathedral is also a treasure trove of art with contributions from Michelangelo, Donatello and Brunelleschi.

The Baptistery of St John the Baptist lies in front of the Duomo,. It was built on the foundations of an ancient Roman temple and the golden doors which face the cathedral are replicas of an original set by Lorenzo Ghiberti (extensively copied - including the entrance doors to St Peters in Rome) and termed by Michelangelo as the “doors to paradise”.


Florence Italy tourist information: Museums and art galleries

Florence Italy tourist information: The Uffizi gallery (open 8.15am until 7pm) is one of the oldest and most important Renaissance art galleries in the world and is only outdone by the Vatican museums (it's very crowded so buy tickets ahead to skip the queues). Its impressive collection of artworks from the Renaissance period includes Botticelli's Birth of Venus, and art by Giotto, Lippi, Botticelli, Da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo. Most of the work was commissioned by the Medici family.

The Galleria Dell' Accademia, contains one of Florence's most renowned symbols, Michelangelo's original statue of David, and an impressive collection of artwork from the 13th-16th centuries including a collection of musical instruments, from the Medici family.

From Galleria Dell' Accademia head down Via Porta Santa Maria and you will find one of the world's most celebrated bridges, Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), lucky to have survived WWII, it's one of only 3 bridges in the world that houses shops.

For the best views over the city of Florence take a walk from Porta Romana to Piazzale Michelangelo and then onto San Miniato, one of Tuscany's most beautiful Romanesque churches and the oldest standing in Florence.
The walk, which is very picturesque, is highly recommended but keep in mind it will take at least an hour (perhaps quicker for the fit ones).

 

Florence Italy tourist information
Eating out
. Prepare to be overwhelmed, Florence abounds with excellent restaurants serving traditional Tuscan and Italian cuisine. The Piazza Santa Maria Novella and the alleyways which run from it are very popular and have an array of culinary options to satisfy all tastes. The best value for money will be found at the Trattorias and Pizzerias, in addition your best chances of finding great value authentic cooking in a family environment will be at a Trattoria.

Shopping in Florence! Florence has some of the most exciting shopping in Europe, and is really an adventure rather than a commercial outing. Artisans crafts like leather goods, gold and silver smiths (see Ponte Vecchio) jewelry, art, handbags etc. will surprise down almost every alleyway.
The informal morning markets (San Lorenzo is a good bet) which sell food, clothing, accessories, arts and crafts, etc. are an invaluable and fun insight into Florentine culture.

 

Florence Italy tourist information: Recommended tours

 

  1. Florence sightseeing tour (half or full day).
    The tour begins with a drive up to Piazzale Michelangelo from where you can enjoy panoramic views over the city Florence. The walking tour includes the cathedral complex, Giotto's bell tower, the Baptistery with its bronze doors, Brunelleschi's famous cupola, the Accademia Gallery (which houses the statue of David) by Michelangelo.
    The afternoon tour includes the Franciscan Church of Santa Croce (exterior), Piazza Signoria, and the Uffizi Gallery which houses paintings by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Giotto.

  2. Tour Tuscany Wine farms.
    Enjoy the magnificent Tuscan landscapes on your journey to an ancient Tuscan town and one of Chianti's most celebrated wineries. Learn about local wine-growing traditions and sample three prestigious wines: Chianti Classico, Chianti Reserve and Vin Santo dessert wine accompanied with Pecorino cheese and Cantucci di Prato (anise-flavored almond biscuits).

  3. Day trips from Florence Italy: Pisa and the leaning tower
    After enjoying a panoramic drive through Tuscany the visit begins with a visit of Piazza dei Miracoli, home of the renowned Leaning Tower of Pisa including a visit of the cathedral (visit inside). The tour finishes with a guided walk to Piazza dei Cavalieri and the famous university "Scuola Normale", founded by Napoleon in 1810.

  4. Day trips from Florence Italy: San Gimignano and Siena
    Journey through the picturesque landscape of the Chianti region to the walled medieval city of Siena. The tour will visit the cathedral and its museum, the grand Piazza del Campo (one of the most celebrated squares in Europe and famous for the Palio).
    After lunch you visit the tiny hilltop city of San Gimignano, famous for its many towers, frescoes and artistic treasures. On the return trip you visit the fascinating enclosed medieval village of Monteriggioni. Tuscan history at its best!

  5. Outlet shopping tour Florence Italy
    Rapidly gaining in popularity, sit back and relax while someone else takes care of transport and shows you where all the hot spots and deals are. Prada is first on the list, the tour then proceeds to the famous Mall where you will find temptations from names like Armani, Bottega Veneta, Ermenegildo Zegna, Fendi, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, I Pinco Pallino, La Perla, Pucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Sergio Rossi, Valentino, Yohji Yamamoto and Yves Saint Laurent. Enough to satisfy the staunchest shopaholics.

 

Florence Italy tourist information: Transport to & from the Airports

 

Florence Airport aka Peretola Airport aka Amerigo Vespucci Airport (Italian "Aeroporto di Firenze"). Transport options from the airport are:

  • The Florence Airport buses leave every half hour to Santa Maria Novella train station in the city center, cost is 4€/4,50€ and journey time 20 minutes.
  • Florence Airport taxis. Taxis can be found in front of the arrivals terminal, the journey time to the center of Florence is about 15 minutes and costs between 15€ and 25€ depending on traffic conditions.
  • You can also reserve a private transfer from Florence airport to your lodging
  • Search with Hotwire and Onetravel for Florence Italy rental cars at Florence Airport: Type in "Florence Peretola" and the programs will search for the best prices from dozens of Florence airport car rental companies.

Pisa Airport aka Pisa Galileo Galilei International Airport (PSA). Transport to Florence:

  • Private coach services offer transport to the center of Florence. Duration is 1 hour & 30 mins and price 10€.
  • Trains run from Pisa Airport to Pisa Central station from where you can connect by train to Florence city center (Santa Maria Novella Station) and other cities in Tuscany.
  • You can reserve a private transfer from Pisa Airport to Florence.
  • Rent a car through Hotwire and Onetravel at Florence Airport: Type in "Pisa" and the programs will search for the best prices from dozens of Pisa car hire companies.

 

How's your Italian?

You may be planning your holidays in Florence Italy but how's your Italian? With just a basic knowledge of Italian your enjoyment and experience of Florence and Italy could be magnified. It's one thing touring Florence and Italy at an arm's length, but a completely different and way more fun experience getting stuck in and feeling part of the culture! With most Italian courses costing less than one nights stay in a hotel in Italy what's stopping you?!





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So you're considering visiting Rome Italy... but how's your Italian? With just a basic knowledge of Italian your enjoyment and experience in Italy can be greatly enhanced.

It's one thing to experience Italian culture at the usual tourists 'arms length' but a totally different, and way more satisfying, experience to feel part of it all! And think about this for a second: Most Italian courses cost less than one nights stay in a hotel in Italy?!

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