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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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San Miniato Al Monte, Florence

Built in the 11th century, San Miniato is one of Tuscany's most beautiful Romanesque churches and the oldest still standing in Florence after the Baptistery. It...more

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Santa Croce & Cappella dei Pazzi, Florence

The 13th-century Franciscan church of Santa Croce has a typical Florentine striped facade. The vast interior has an open timber roof and it houses many tombs of...more

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Santa Maria Novella, Florence

The 13th-century Dominican church of Santa Maria Novella has a stunning black and white marble facade by Alberti. Inside, there is an extraordinary wealth of...more

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Santa Trinita, Florence

This 12th-century church hides several treasures behind its rather bland facade. The Sassetti chapel is decorated with frescoes of the life of St. Francis by...more

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Soul Space, Florence

If you're suffering from Stendhal syndrome—otherwise known as art overload—a session at this new day spa, a five-minute walk from Piazza del Duomo,...more

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Teatro della Pergola, Florence

The best place to hear chamber music in Florence is this gorgeous historic theater done out in splendid red and gold. Inaugurated in 1656, it is an intimate...more

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Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Florence

Opera buffs should try and catch a performance at Florence's municipal theater—also known as the Teatro Comunale—where the stagione lirica runs from...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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