Once commanded by the Medicis, the Renaissance influence on the city can be easily seen. The buildings are striking and the treasures are many. The Medicis were great supporters of the arts and sponsored philosophers and such artists as Botticelli, DaVinci, and Michelangelo. In the 20th century, however, Florence suffered many losses. The Germans blew up all its bridges, except the Ponte Vecchio, during WWII and the town suffered a devastating flood in 1966, which caused extensive damage to buildings and artworks.
Still, today, Florence is a mecca for tourists seeking the calm serenity and beauty of Tuscany along with a good deal of culture and history. There’s much to see and do and travelers rarely walk away disappointed. From the magnificent cathedrals to the crowded piazzas to the nearby countryside, there’s something for everyone in beautiful Florence. Be sure to visit:
- The Duomo – The most visible structure in Florence’s skyline, the Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore) is the fourth largest cathedral in the world. Designed by Brunelleschi, construction began in 1296 and took 150 years to complete. The pink, white, and green marbled façade is breathtaking.
- The Bargello Museum – This museum incorporates the most comprehensive range of sculpture from the medieval and Renaissance periods in all Italy. Pieces include Donatello’s David and Michelangelo’s Bacchus. The museum was once a Medieval prison of torture.
- The Pitti Palace – One of Florence’s most popular tourist attractions, the palace was originally designed for the Pitti family, rivals of the Medicis. Ironically, it now houses the great art works that belonged to the Medici family. Works by Raphael, Tintoretto, Rubens, and many other artists are featured. Check out the Boboli Gardens surrounding the rear of the palace as well.
- The Mugello Region – Want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city? Just a short ride from Florence, the Mugello Region encompasses some of the most picturesque villages in Tuscany. The Seine River winds through this area, rich with vineyards, and canoeists are welcome. The region is very popular with walkers, climbers and horseback riders. Check out the wine town of Rufina, with its wine-making museum.
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