The Never-Ending Beauty of Florence

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If you like beautiful architecture, interesting history, and delicious Italian food, you need to visit Florence, Italy. Florence is the capital of Tuscany, a central region of Italy, known for its rolling hills, vineyards, and olive groves. Florence has been a center of commerce and activity since it was founded in 200 BC. This Tuscan city is considered to be the birthplace of the Renaissance, so you can expect to see lots of famous artwork and historical buildings from this time period in Florence!

The most famous art museums in Florence are the Uffizi Gallery and the Academia. Although they draw large crowds of tourists, both museums are well worth a visit. The Uffizi Gallery is the most visited art gallery in Italy, drawing around 2 million visitors a year. Expect to see significant works like the Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli and Doni Tondo by Michelangelo. The Academia is another very famous gallery, best known as the home of the renowned David sculpture by Michelangelo. Other must-visit attractions in Florence include the Florence Cathedral and Ponte Vecchio. The Florence Cathedral, also known as the Duomo to locals, is a stunning Renaissance church topped with an iconic red dome. The inside of the cathedral is beautiful, but the views from the dome or Giotto’s Tower are absolutely breathtaking. Visit at sunset for gorgeous views of the city and the nearby Tuscan hills.

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The Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in Florence. This bridge has been lined with shops since the 1200s. Originally, the bridge was home to shops that produced a lot of waste, like butcher shops and tanneries, but all these were replaced with jewelry shops in the 1500s, many of which still sell jewelry today. Upriver, at the Ponte Santa Trinita, you get a much better view of the Ponte Vecchio shops hanging over the Arno River. For another amazing view of Florence, head to the Piazza Michelangelo. Bring a bottle of wine and have a picnic with the locals overlooking the city.

One of the most unique attractions in Florence is the Santa Maria Novella Perfumery and Pharmacy. Associated with the church of the same name, the pharmacy was founded in the early 1200s by monks who made various medicinal salves and ointments. This store is considered the world’s oldest pharmacy, and it still sells perfume and beauty products made according to recipes created hundreds of years ago. For another authentically Florentine shopping experience, head to the Scuola del Cuoio, a leather workshop that dates back to the 13th century. At this workshop, you can watch carefully trained artisans create a variety of leather goods, including purses and jackets.

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No visit to Florence would be complete without indulging in the amazing food this city has to offer. Start the day with an Italian espresso at one of the many local cafes. To order your coffee like a local, get a shot of espresso and drink it while standing at the bar. For lunch, visit the Mercato Centrale. In the downstairs area, there’s a functional market selling produce, meats, and more. Upstairs, you’ll find vendors selling ready-to-eat food, like pasta, paninis, and charcuterie plates. Gelato is the go-to snack in Florence, and you’ll find dozens of delicious gelato stores throughout the city; try a traditional flavor like fior di latte, gelato alla crema, or pistachio.

Make sure to have an apertivo before dinner in Florence. Apertivos are the Italian equivalent of American happy hours, and they’re a major part of Italian food culture. Most of the time, an apertivo consists of a cocktail and a small tasting plate of foods like cured meats and cheeses, but this varies from place to place. Try a local Chianti wine or an Aperol Spritz to drink like an Italian.

Florence, Italy is a stunning city, filled with Renaissance artwork and amazing food. Visit the Tuscan capital for the famous art galleries and history, and stay for the apertivos and gelato.


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Article and photos by Elizabeth Rhodes. Find her on TwitterInstagram, and her website. Also, check out her guide to Budapest.