Snapshot: Florence (Firenze), Italy

Florence, Italy is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is graced with spectacular architecture, including countless churches and monuments. Located in the heart of Tuscany, Firenze as its known to Italians, is bisected by the meandering Arno River and surrounded by the region’s famous rolling hills.

Poking high above the terracotta-tiled roofline is the focal point of the city—the awe-inspiring Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, more commonly known simply as “The Duomo.” Believe me when I say that it’s enormous and completely out-of-scale with any of the surrounding buildings. At 295 feet (90 meters) tall, it literally dwarfs everything around it. The church’s extraordinary façade is inlaid with intricate green, pink, and cream-colored marble detailing. Construction began in 1296 and was completed in 1436 with the addition of Brunelleschi’s dome, which remains to this day the largest brick dome in the world. The Duomo, it’s adjacent Campanile (bell tower) and Baptistery sit on the Piazza del Duomo, a popular gathering place for tourists and locals alike.

One of the best vantage points for spectacular panoramic views of the city is from Piazzale Michelangelo, an overlook located just outside the city’s ancient walls. Of course, no visitor to Firenze should pass up the vistas from the top of the Duomo’s cupola or Campanile, which can be climbed for a fee.

Florence features several world-class museums, including the Uffizi Gallery with its vast collection of Boticellis, da Vincis and other famous Italian Old Masters. Also, arguably the most famous statue in the world, Michelangelo’s David can be found posing at the Galleria dell’Academia at the center of town.

The Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) is one of the most famous sights in Firenze. For generations, butchers used to set up shop on this span over the Arno River. Nowadays, shops selling jewelry, art, and souvenirs line the landmark bridge. Above the Ponte Vecchio is what’s known as the Vasari Corridor. It was built so the Medici family—the VIPs of the day—could travel freely around the city without consorting with the commoners.

Florence is one of those cities where it’s best to slow down in order to take in everything around you—from its splendid art to its distinctive architecture. It takes time to truly savor this masterpiece of a city.

When in Florence you’ll want your accommodations to be convenient to the many beautiful sights the city has to offer. Check out Oh-Florence.com for centrally located hotels or self-catering apartments where you’re certain to experience la dolce vita on your unforgettable holiday.

Have you been to Florence? What were your impressions? Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments section below!

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