see + do
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.