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Florence see + do

As the cradle of the Italian Renaissance, Florence is a never-ending cultural feast. One of the fascinating things about the city of Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Brunelleschi is the way the sacred and the secular coexist: For every art-packed church like Santa Croce or Santa Maria Novella, there's a proud monument to the city's ruling Medici dynasty (Palazzo Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery) and its wealthy merchant and banking class (Orsanmichele, Palazzo Pitti). Obviously, you'll want to check out the iconic masterpieces like Michelangelo's David (at the Accademia) and Botticelli's Birth of Venus (at the Uffizi), but try to make time for less visited but equally worthwhile Florence museums like the Bargello or the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, as well as excursions to outlying sights like Fiesole or San Miniato al Monte. And although the art of the past is the main draw, don't forget that Florence hosts one of Italy's best classical music and opera festivals—the spring Maggio Musicale—and is ideally situated for touring the Chianti wine region. Note that museum tickets can be booked in advance for major Florence museums at the Firenze Musei Web site, www.firenzemusei.it. However, only the Galleria degli Uffizi and the Galleria dell'Accademia generally have the kind of lines that make advance booking advisable.

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Ognissanti, Florence

The church of Ognissanti, or All Saints, has a grand Baroque facade that was designed in 1672, but was actually founded in the 13th century by the Umiliati....more

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Orsanmichele, Florence

Orsanmichele demonstrates just how closely religion and trade were intertwined in medieval Florence. First a chapel on a Benedictine monastery, it was turned...more

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Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

The main reason for visiting this solid 15th-century palazzo, built by Michelozzo, and now the city's prefettura, is to see Benozzo Gozzoli's delightful...more

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Palazzo Pitti, Florence

This enormous 15th-century palace was built for wealthy banker Luca Pitti as a poke in the eye to the Medici; less than a century later, his impoverished family...more

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Palazzo Strozzi, Florence

Though Florence is known the world over as one of Italy's great città d'arte, it had long suffered from a dearth of temporary exhibition spaces. That is,...more

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Piazza della Signoria & Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

This monumental square, dominated by the somber Palazzo Vecchio and its iconic tower, has been Florence's administrative hub for hundreds of years, and it still...more

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Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

For a stunning view of Florence, head up to Piazzale Michelangelo, a panoramic viewing platform that perches above the south bank of the Arno. The huge square,...more

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Piazza Santo Spirito, Florence

At the heart of the buzzing, boho-chic Oltrarno district is this lovely shady square in the shadow of its parish church. This edifice was Brunelleschi's last...more

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Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Crossing the Arno at its narrowest point, the 14th-century Ponte Vecchio is one of the most famous bridges in the world. Today it is lined on both sides with...more

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San Lorenzo, Florence

The Medicis' parish church stands on the site of one of the city's oldest places of worship. The present building was designed by Brunelleschi; work on it began...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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