Florence

florenceA trip to Florence is a real treat for your senses. This gorgeous Italian City in the heart of Tuscany is positively overflowing with the artistic and architectural treasures of the Renaissance. The magnificent Duomo, Piazza dell Signoria (the city’s civic showpiece), the Uffizi Gallery (full of Renaissance masterpieces) and the Accademia (home to Michelangelo’s David) are some of the main attractions. And the list goes on… so much so that visitors may experience Stendhal Syndrome – the disorientation and dizziness suffered by the French novelist in reaction to Florence’s overwhelming beauty.

The cultural and historical impact of Florence is overwhelming. Close up, however, the city is one of Italy’s most atmospheric and pleasant, retaining a strong resemblance to the late-medieval centre that contributed so much to the cultural and political development of Europe. Its striking buildings, formidable galleries and treasure-crammed churches attest to the Florentine love of display. Even long after its star had descended on the political and economic horizon, Florence upheld its elegant appearance: its skyline, all russet rooftops and lofty domes, is indeed picturesque.

Florence also offers excellent opportunities for retail therapy. The centre has loads of designer boutiques, which include the likes of Armani, Gucci, Prada, Ferragamo and Louis Vuitton (among countless others) and attract the label conscious from around the world. The city’s strong artisan tradition means you can pick up everything from leather goods to beautiful hand-marbled paper at very reasonable prices. The Mercato Nuovo is known for bargains, but the shops around Santa Croce have a wider choice of quality leather.

The glory of Florence is rooted in its past. The Medicis commanded the city’s fortunes for centuries and, as patrons, they encouraged the Renaissance’s influence on the city. They are attributed in today’s Florence: their family crest of six balls still adorns many public buildings and their support of many artforms is evident in the city’s streets. Whatever time of year you go, you’ll quickly appreciate why Florence is one of the most beautiful and popular cities in Europe.

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