On any Italy itinerary, Florence is an absolute highlight -- the gem of the early Italian Renaissance. In the 15th century, when great artists like Giotto, Ghiberti, Brunelleschi and Michelangelo worked there, they created magnificent examples of painting and sculpture that today still fill Florentine churches, civic buildings, grand palazzi, and world-class museums such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia. Architecture prospered in Florence too -- indeed, the city's signature work of art is the masterful Brunelleschi-designed dome of its cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, known as the Duomo.
Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and you'll need several days to explore it fully. Aside from the most famous sights -- Michelangelo's David, the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi -- be sure to allow time to wander Florence's quieter corners, like the exquisite San Miniato al Monte church or the Horne Museum, where you can see sculptures, furniture and paintings collected by Englishman Herbert Horne in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Florence is also a good base for day trips into the Tuscan countryside; you can connect by train to Pisa, Siena, Lucca and other nearby towns.
--written by Carolyn Spencer Brown
- Rent a Villa in Tuscany
- Learn to Pole a Gondola in Venice
- Stay in a Cave in Matera
- Immerse Yourself in Art in Florence
- Trek Cinque Terre
- Learn to Make Pizza in Sorrento
- Ride a Bike in Lucca
- Live Like George Clooney on Lake Como
- Drive a Ferrari Along the Amalfi Coast
- Indulge Your Inner Chocoholic in Perugia
- Train Like a Gladiator in Rome
Italy Accommodations: Hotels, Villas & Farms
Getting Around Italy: Transportation Tips
Rome Travel Guide
Venice Travel Guide
Florence Travel Guide
5 Less Visited Churches in Rome
Mediterranean Art: Following the Masters