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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Florence Travel Guide
Florence Travel Guide and Florence Travel Information - TravelPuppy.com
A visit to Florence (Firenze) is a must for any most lovers. UNESCO estimates that 60 per cent of the world’s most important artworks are located in Italy, with over half of them located in Florence.

Situated in the northwest of Italy, surrounded by the wine-growing hills of Chianti, the city attracts rapture and frustration in equal proportions. Few can dismiss the image of Brunelleschi’s cathedral dome bursting through the morning mist, a terracotta balloon hovering above the medieval rooftops. But once the visitor drops down to the street level, the profusion of traffic, tourists and touts can remove all sense of tranquillity. It seems every building holds a masterpiece which demands attention and often gobbling up funds. The streets are dark and narrow, enclosed on either side by granite palaces and even the open spaces are crowded with tour groups.

Often called the cradle of the Renaissance, Florence owes much of her wealth to the Middle Ages. Banking became huge business on the back of the city’s profitable wool trade and, in 1235, Florence minted the florin, the first gold coin to become standard currency across Europe. In their turn, these bankers commissioned some of the finest art and architecture in the city. The names Strozzi, Rucellai and Pitti can be found all over Florence but it was the Medici family, who led the city for over 300 years, off and on that nurtured the greatest flowering of Renaissance art. The paintings of Botticelli, the sculptures of Michelangelo and the rusticated palaces of Michelozzo all flourished under their rule.

Then, as now, most of the action in Florence took place between Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Signoria, the city’s civic centre. Here, in the historic centre of Dante, forefather of the Italian language, first glimpsed his muse, Beatrice. Here, the Florentine Republic rose and fell. And here, Savonarola’s Bonfire of the Vanities blazed.

Florence, for all her timeless charm, is no stranger to destruction. In 1944, all her bridges, save the Ponte Vecchio, were bombed by the Nazis, in an attempt to stall the advance of the allies. In 1966, the banks of the River Arno burst, flooding the city with her muddied waters and devastating homes and artwork. Most recently, in 1993, a bomb exploded near the Uffizi Gallery, ripping through the museum’s interior and claiming several lives. That said, the only violence most tourists are likely to witness is during the medieval football match on 24 th June, Florence’s patron saint day, when petty wrangles often spill onto the pitch.

It is best for visitors to avoid the peak summer months of July and August, when the weather can be unbearably hot and sticky with the prospect of trailing around museums becomes unappealing. Early autumn, when the countryside glows with mellow fruitfulness, is one of the best time to visit, avoiding the heat and the queues and capitalising on the soft light, empty streets and the abundance of wild mushrooms and just-pressed olive oil.
Useful travel links
Tourist Information Official website for Florence Tourism