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FlorenceTuscany, Italy

Florence is stylish, aristocratic and immensely proud of its cultural, artistic and historical treasures.

Florence is often hailed as one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Tuscany’s capital was the cradle of the Renaissance, and Michelangelo, Donatello and dozens more of Europe’s most revered artists plied their trades here. Wander the network of cobbled streets and pass boutique stores, historical cafés and outstanding galleries.

Brunelleschi’s dome atop the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo) dominates the skyline. Up close, the cathedral is no less impressive. The colorful marble façade is a highlight in the city’s cultural and physical heart, the Piazza del Duomo. The square’s central location makes it the perfect starting point from which to navigate the city’s major attractions.

Head in any direction to encounter yet more Florentine delights. South is the Uffizi Gallery (Galleria degli Uffizi), one of the most important and revered art museums in the world. Spend an entire day admiring masterpieces by Renaissance greats such as Botticelli, da Vinci and Raphael.

Stroll across the Ponte Vecchio, the famous pedestrian bridge that spans the Arno River, towards yet more art in the Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti). Once the residence of the ruling Medici family, the palace houses a series of galleries containing works by masters such as Raphael and Caravaggio. Discover an early example of Italian garden design in the nearby Boboli Gardens (Giardino di Boboli), which also offer splendid views across the city. To the north you’ll find superb examples of the harmonious, rational design so important to Renaissance art. The San Lorenzo Church (Basilica di San Lorenzo) features the artistry of Brunelleschi and Michelangelo.

Numerous cafés tucked between galleries and shops serve typical Tuscan delights such as prosciutto ham, tomato soups and Florentine steaks. Take a seat and watch as the locals buzz by on motor scooters or parade in the latest designer outfits. This is the home of Gucci and people here are passionate about their style.

Florence has a hot, Mediterranean climate. Only the winter months bring any sustained undesirable weather. The city attracts close to 8 million visitors each year, so you are unlikely to have it to yourself even in the quieter seasons. Book tickets to galleries, particularly the Uffizi, in advance as you may not get them if you simply turn up on the day.

Major attractions in the city center are within 15 minutes’ walk of each other. Florence’s public transportation is efficient; electric buses service the main museums. Driving and parking can be a challenge