Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci all left their mark on Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance and Tuscany's alfresco museum. With Brunelleschi's dome as a backdrop, follow the River Arno to the Uffizi Gallery and soak in centuries of great painting. Wander across the Ponte Vecchio, taking in the tangle of medieval streets. Then sample seasonal Tuscan cooking in a Left Bank trattoria. You've discovered the art of fine living in this masterpiece of a city.
Things to Do
Michelangelo's David stands tall (literally) behind the doors of the Accademia and, nearby, the delicate painting of Fra' Angelico in the convent of San Marco enchants. Works by Florentines Donatello, Masaccio, and Ghiberti fill the city's churches and museums. Once home to the Medici, the Palazzo Pitti is stuffed with Raphaels and Titians, and backed by the fountains of the regal Boboli Garden. Climb the Duomo's cupola for views to the hills beyond.
Italy's leather capital strains at the seams with handmade gloves, belts, bags, and shoes sold from workshops, family-run boutiques, and high-toned stores, as well as at tourist-oriented San Lorenzo Market. Splurge on designer wear from glamorous fashion houses along Via de' Tornabuoni or Renaissance scents from the convent-turned-perfumery, Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica Santa Maria Novella. For authentic artisan goods, wander the alleyways of the Oltrarno.
Restaurants & Dining
Florentine eating is more cosmopolitan than in the countryside, but flavors still have Tuscany at their core. Even in the best restaurants, meals might kick off with peasant concoctions like ribollita (vegetable stew) before moving onto the chargrilled delights of a bistecca alla fiorentina (Florentine beefsteak on the bone) -- all washed down with a fine Chianti Classico. At lunchtime order a plate of cold cuts, or if you're feeling adventurous lampredotto alla fiorentina (a sandwich of cow's stomach stewed in tomatoes and garlic).
Nightlife & Entertainment
Kick your evening off with aperitivo hour: Simple, tasty buffets are piled high for early evening drinkers to enjoy. When you've dined to your fill, retire to a wine bar in the Oltrarno, or to one of the edgier joints of Santo Spirito and San Frediano, where DJs play till the wee hours. If you're keen on opera, classical, theater, or jazz, you'll find it here, too.
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