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Welcome to Florence

art and architecture reign supreme in the renaissance city of florence. the cobblestone streets have hardly changed since the 17th century, and walking tours will take you through hidden plazas (piazze), over the ponte vecchio, and past the brunelleschi-designed duomo. opt for skip-the-line tickets to see the galleria dell'accademia di firenze and uffizi gallery, home to some of the world’s most famous artwork. and be sure to allow plenty of time for leisurely meals featuring the bounty of the tuscan hills surrounding the city.

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Top 10 attractions in Florence

Uffizi Galleries (Gallerie degli Uffizi)
#1

Uffizi Galleries (Gallerie degli Uffizi)

The Uffizi Gallery houses the world’s most important collection of Florentine art, so unless you have Skip the Line tickets you’ll need to get ready to queue! The collection traces the rich history of Florentine art, from its 11th-century beginnings to Botticelli and the flowering of Renaissance art. At its heart is the private Medici collection, bequeathed to the city in the 18th century....
Piazzale Michelangelo
#2

Piazzale Michelangelo

If you want to catch those iconic, sweeping views of Florence you've seen in postcards, head to Piazzale Michelangelo. From an elevated position overlooking the city, the fabulous views take in the city's fortified walls, the River Arno, the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio and, of course, the round red dome of the Duomo. During the day, drink in the views as you stroll along the Renaissance promenade, overlooked by yet another copy of Michelangelo's David. Return in the evening for magical views of Florence floodlit at night....
Florence Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria dei Fiori)
#3

Florence Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria dei Fiori)

You'll catch glimpses of the red-tiled dome of the Duomo, or Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiori, peeping over the rooftops as soon as you arrive in Florence. The 13th-century Sienese architect Arnolfo di Cambio was responsible for building many landmarks in Florence but this is his showstopper. The beautiful ribbed dome was creatively added by Brunelleschi in the 1420s. The building took 170 years to complete, and the facade was remodeled to reflect Cambio’s design in the 19th century. Inside the Duomo, your eyes are inevitably drawn upwards to that soaring painted dome and lovely stained-glass windows by such masters as Donatello. Visit the crypt, where Brunelleschi's tomb lies, or to the top of the enormous dome itself for stupendous views over Florence....
Brunelleschi's Dome (Cupola del Brunelleschi)
#4

Brunelleschi's Dome (Cupola del Brunelleschi)

Standing tall over the city of Florence, Brunelleschi’s Dome is an architectural feat, the most prominent part of the Florence Cathedral, and a symbol of Florence itself. Located in the city's historic center, the cathedral complex that holds the dome is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The whole area is known to locals as the “Duomo” or dome, after the structure. Designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and completed in 1436, it took sixteen years to build. And at 45 meters wide, it is the single largest masonry dome in the world. Brunelleschi came to the rescue when, after over 100 years of cathedral construction, there were plans for to add a dome but no idea how to erect one. He went against existing construction norms and resolved to build a dome without wooden scaffolding — one that would support itself as it was built. It was an engineering and design marvel at the time, and the fact that it still stands tall more than 600 years later is a testament to its masterpiece....
Sant'Ambrogio Market (Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio)
#5

Sant'Ambrogio Market (Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio)

Florence's most famous and popular market is the aptly named Mercato Centrale – but it's by no means the only market in the city. Another ideal spot to pick up picnic supplies, see what's fresh before you browse local menus or simply enjoy the colors of an Italian food market is the Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio (Mercato Alimentare Sant'Ambrogio). Also known as the Sant'Ambrogio Market, the site is home to stalls that sell many of the same sorts of items seen at the Mercato Centrale – fruits, vegetables, bread, meat, fish, cheese, spices and other sundry pantry essentials. In a couple areas of the market, you'll also find vendors selling clothing and household items. Because the Mercato Centrale is the more famous market, the Mercato Alimentare Sant'Ambrogio offers a slightly less touristy experience. It's in the historic center, so it's unlikely to be tourist-free, but you may find more locals than visitors browsing here....
Ponte Vecchio
#6

Ponte Vecchio

The ancient Ponte Vecchio bridge is as much a symbol of Florence as the red dome of the Duomo. Ponte Vecchio means old bridge, and indeed it dates back to the 14th century. The three-arched bridge is picturesquely lined with several stories of jewelry shops and market stalls. It’s one of the most popular places in Florence for taking a stroll or just hanging out, and the decorative central arches are picture-perfect spots for snapping photos of Florence. Running across the top of the Ponte Vecchio is part of the famous Vasari Corridor, built for the ruling Medicis by the Renaissance painter and designer Vasari. The private enclosed walkway leads from the Palazzo Vecchio and Uffizi Museum, across the top of the bridge to the Pitti Palace on the other side of the river....
Piazza della Signoria
#7

Piazza della Signoria

Florence’s spacious Piazza della Signoria has long been one of the city’s main meeting points. The Palazzo Vecchio, which anchors one side of the square, was once home to the rulers of the Florentine Republic, and today still serves as the city’s town hall. This square, then, was often used by those seeking favor (or protesting) their government. Today, the Palazzo Vecchio houses a museum along with the town hall, and the Piazza della Signoria is lined with other major attractions. In front of the Palazzo Vecchio you’ll find a copy of Michelangelo’s famous “David” statue (in the place where the original once stood). The open-air gallery that is the Loggia dei Lanzi contains a collection of sculptures. And to one side of the Palazzo Vecchio is a fountain with a huge statue of Neptune. The Piazza della Signoria was the site of the 14th century “Burning of the Vanities” led by the monk Savonarola, and it’s also where Savonarola was later hanged....
Opera del Duomo Museum (Museo dell'Opera del Duomo)
#8

Opera del Duomo Museum (Museo dell'Opera del Duomo)

Despite the name, Florence’s Museo dell’Opera del Duomo has nothing to do with opera music - “opera” also being the Italian word for creative works, in this case the artwork that was once inside the cathedral. The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo is located conveniently right behind the Duomo, for which most of its collection was originally created. Inside you’ll see an unfinished Michelangelo pieta that he had apparently started as a piece to decorate his own tomb. He was later so unhappy with it that he broke it, but it was later put back together by a new owner. The face of Nicodemus is said to be a self-portrait of the sculptor. Other highlights of the museum collection are Ghiberti’s original bronze panels from Florence’s Baptistery. The doors you see on the Baptistery today are excellent reproductions, but the originals are kept in air-tight containers to prevent further damage....
Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti)
#9

Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti)

The Pitti Palace was built by rivals of the powerful Medici family in the mid-1400s. A century later, the Medicis took over the huge Renaissance palace, and it was the home of Florentine rulers until the early 20th century. Today the massive palace houses a number of picture galleries and museums, and is surrounded by gardens and ornate fortifications. To see the entire collection would take days if not weeks, so choose your favorites and plunge in! A tour of the royal apartments reveals the Medicis' taste for over-the-top decor. An impressive collection of Renaissance masterpieces is housed in the Palatina Gallery, with works by Raphael, Titian and Rubens. To see the Medicis family's silverware, head to the Silver Museum, or take a stroll around the Renaissance Boboli Gardens, with its statues and grottoes....
Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell'Accademia)
#10

Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell'Accademia)

The Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell'Accademia) is dominated by one artwork in particular - Michelangelo's staggeringly beautiful statue of David. Carved from a single block of marble by the 26-year-old genius, it’s true you can’t really grasp the statue’s size and detail until you see him up-close. The statue originally stood in the Piazza della Signoria, but was moved to this more protected environment in 1873. A copy now stands in the piazza. Also here are Michelangelo's muscular Prisoner statues and Florentine artworks from the 13th to 16th centuries....

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