Florence

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FLORENCE … what does the city conjure up in your mind? For me, its Michelangelo’s David, the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, wine, olive groves, gelato and sumptuous food.  The Duomo dominates Florence’s skyline and entrance to this amazing cathedral is free, so expect crowds and que’s. Although que’s move quickly, it is advisable to take a tour and get the benefit of “fast-track” and a tour-guide.  To enjoy impressive views of this gorgeous city, climb to the top of the cupola and out onto the lantern – that’s if you are not afraid of heights!  A short walk from the Duomo, past designer label, exclusive boutiques (enter at your peril!), is the beautiful Basilica of Santa Croce, final resting place for Michelangelo and Galileo. The Academia Gallery is home to Michelangelo’s magnificent David, whose sheer size and beauty will take your breath away; Uffizi showcases great Italian artists - Botticelli, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Raffaello and more, but, evidence of Italian Renaissance is everywhere in this artistic paradise.  Piazzale Michelangelo, with its replica of DAVID, offers panoramic vistas of the city, and stunning sunsets;  Piazza della Repubblica, marking the centre of the city, is one of the main squares which hosts street artists, particularly after sunset, and where you find several Caffé’s which were famous meeting points for artists and writers of days gone by.  As in all of Italy, food is enjoyed with Pizzazz … Panini, Pasta, Pizza, and gelato in every flavor imaginable. Stroll down any street and be drawn in to a trattoria, and if your budget allows, indulge in the city’s specialty, Bistecca Alla Fiorentina, a very large t-bone steak … Delicious.  Gelaterie are everywhere and what fun to plough your way through as many flavors as possible during your stay … see how many you can try and which, if any, is your favorite – mine is definitely Pistachio. Ponte Vecchio, the iconic bridge and shopping centre straddling the river Arno, has been providing retail therapy since the 13th century – it is fabulous, and not to be missed. A mere 20 minute bus ride away is the gorgeous village of Fiesole – incredible views of the city, Roman baths and theatre and the Cathedral of Fiesole, containing the shrine to St Romulus, are on offer, and the tough climb up to the Monastery will reward you with yet more spectacular views of Florence. Linger over a delicious meal in one of the trattoria on the square before making your way back to Florence.  Florence is the capital of Tuscany, so the heart of Tuscany is just an hour away, as is Pisa, with its spectacular Leaning Tower … both making a wonderful day trip.  Art, history, beauty, wine, women, song, and food, encapsulate Florence - you cannot help but fall in love with this incredible city.  Jenny's Travel Blog  - Legacy Travel