Florence

The home of music, art, science. Florence is the birth place of the Renaissance Florence has grown to be one of the “to visit” capitals of Europe. The city may be small but there is a little something here for everyone. The city first rose to fame when the Medici family dynasty rose and the city prospered and the population grew. The iconic buildings and landmarks were financed and built by the Medici’s but not all of their projects were finished. These buildings give Florence its iconic red domed cathedral.

 

Sites to visit:

Florence cathedral, decorated by white, red and green marble which were iconic colours of the city. The artwork and carvings of the cathedral were made but some of the greatest artists Leonardo de Vinci, Brunelleschi and Talenti. You can climb to the top of the bell tower to get some of the best views of the city. If you walk round the exterior of the cathedral try and find the metal plate marking the spot where the golden orb fell when the dome was hit by lightning.

Palazzo Vecchio: Is the iconic home of the Medici’s about a five-minute walk from the Cathedral towards the river. The house was built solely for the use of the Medici’s. The tower stands high over the city and has been home to great artists such as Michelangelo and scientist such as Galileo. Outside stands a copy of Michelangelo’s David, the real statue is protected inside the museum just down the street.

Ponte Vecchio; if you are a bit of an introvert and hate commuters you would have loved this bridge. It is the home of jewellers in Florence but there is also a hallway that connects palazzo Vecchio to the Medici home across the river. It is 1km and took less than 2 years to build. Cosimo used to ride his horse across it. This is one of the best photo stops in the city.

Piazza Della Signoria is right next to Palazzo Vecchio containing several pieces of art. Behind every statue is a long story but the most iconic is the brass statue of the medusas head being cut off. There were subtle messages behind the statue but if you look closely at the back of the helmet. There is a secret hidden portrait of the artist which was banned at the time. There are free walking tours to get more detailed descriptions about the statues and city.
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Piazzale Michelangelo has some of the best views in Florence. It is about an hour walk but you can get there by bus if you are ever able to get through the crazy Florence traffic. The best time to visit is around sunset. In the summer there is live music played and street performances. It is a must see on the list.


Food;
Tuscany is the home of pasta. I recommend strolling down the side streets and choosing a random restaurant to eat and you won’t be disappointed. The pasta, pizza, gelato is too amazing to describe. The region is famous for wine and there are several vineyards you can visit for wine tastings. The famous dish of the area is Florentine steak. It consists of very rare cooked strips of steak which is absolutely delicious but can be a little pricey. Check out the food market in the evenings if you want to eat high quality food on a budget. There is something for everyone.

Shopping:
Florence is famous for its leather production. There are loads of high-end shops but if you walk towards the train station you will come across Florence’s leather market. There are tonnes of venders selling high quality items for a fraction of the high street price. They are often hand made by the venders. They can be a little bit pushy so stick to your guns and you will find some amazing items. It is also the perfect place for souvenir shopping. This is the most common area for pick pockets so keep your valuables hidden.

Nightlife:
Florence is a popular destination for tourists and back packers. If you are wanting a fun night out, check out the red garter karaoke bar. Guaranteed a great night by their live band karaoke, loads of people every night and litre cocktails for five euros. It is nearly impossible to get a taxi from there at the weekend. The space club is another place to visit with large dancing space and good music and reasonably priced alcohol. Downside is the local teenagers over 14 are allowed in and they can be a pain in the butt. There are also loads of restaurants open till late with a range of wines you can enjoy on a quiet night.

Florence is one of my favourite places to visit. It is a very romantic city, maybe more than Paris. The summer weather can be very hot and humid but the rest of the year Florence has a very pleasant climate. Be warned however, there are millions of mosquitos in the city especially close to the river and they are relentless. Get Florence ticked off your list!

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