Its impossible to overstate the importance of Florence. Since first being established in 59BC by Julius Caesar, Florence has changed the world more than any other city. It was the birthplace if the Italian Renaissance, responsible for dragging Europe out of the Dark Ages and for almost 300 years was Europe's most important and influential city.
Florence's influence on the rise of Europe is tied to the rise of the Medici family in the 14th century. The Medici's were a powerful family of bankers that developed new and extensive trading markets and even underwrote popes when required. They taught other Italians and then the rest of Europe how to conduct statecraft which doesn't sound really impressive until you realise that the Medici's then went on to influence and marry into the royal families of France and England. These royals then went on to change history and define modern Europe as we know it.
The city has also been the birthplace of many of the giants in history including Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo Da Vinci, Botticelli, Dante and Florence Nightingale. The history of Florence is massive and is worthy of the many books that have been written about the city that changed the world. Luckily a huge collection of art, literature and architecture has been lovingly preserved over the centuries. Today Florence is the last Renaissance city in the world that has been preserved and a highlight of the 1.6 million visitors that holiday there every year.
The highlights of Florence are immense and will appeal to a large range of interests. From walking through original renaissance streets, viewing famous works of art or eating traditional Tuscan cuisine this compact city of 370,000 will amaze and delight visitors. The Galleria degli Uffizi is Florence's most famous museum containing renowned works of art including Boticelli's "The Birth of Venus". The Bargello host an extensive range of Renaissance sculpture including works by Michelangelo, Rosselino, Donatello and Bandinelli.
The original statue of David by Michelangelo is available for viewing at the Accademia Gallery, fascinatingly visitors can look at enormous blocks of marble with half chiseled forms taking shape out of them. To see these partially completed sculptures is awe inspiring. The Institute and Museum of the History of Science contains a fascinating collection of instruments from the fields of Mathematics, Biology, Physics and Chemistry including instruments used by Galileo.
The Duomo di Firenze is the largest cathedral in Florence and allows visitors to climb its 464 steps to the top of its tower. The view from the top is spectacular and worth the effort spanning 360 degrees and looking over the entire ancient city to the distant Tuscan hills. The only Renaissance Bridge to survive the second world war is the Ponte Vechio in Florence which spans the Arno river. This famous bridge is lined with traditional shops and is a popular tourist attraction.
The list of must sees in Florence goes on and on. From the tomb of Galileo, the Pitti Palace of the Medici's to the wonderful Boboli Gardens Florence is a feast for the eyes and the mind and the memories will stay with you for a lifetime
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