Sightseeing Beautiful Florence

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Most visitors are overwhelmed by the artistic minefield of Florence – they spend their holiday dashing from one masterpiece to the next, with their nose stuck in a guidebook and their eyes glued to a video camera, dazzled by an excess of genius. The cultural heritage of Florence cannot be ignored. Cradle of the Renaissance and home of the Medici family – Italy’s most progressive art patrons – it houses some of the world’s greatest treasures.

The River Arno meanders through the city, with the Duomo situated on the on the north bank. The Piazza della Signoria, once the hub of Florence’s political machinations, remains a central reference point for visitors and citizens alike. Visitors can linger over a coffee in one of the square’s gilded cafés and admire the powerful hulk of Michelangelo’s David (a copy) guarding the city’s Palazzo Vecchio, Florence’s town hall since 1322. An array of sculptures, including Cellini’s Perseus brandishing the head of Medusa and Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabine Women, stand under the square’s loggia – an impressive overspill from the nearby Uffizi Gallery. Passing tourists admire the rusticated palazzi that line the square, their solid style underscored by a light Renaissance touch, whose origins can be found in the family palaces of the Strozzi and Rucellai repeated all over Florence.

The square’s landmark crenellated tower, the Torre d’Arnolfo, can be seen best from Piazzale Michelangelo – a balcony over Florence with spectacular views of terracotta roofs, the River Arno and Brunelleschi’s portly dome – all backed by the rolling hills of Chianti. It is the sight of a thousand picture postcards and Merchant Ivory film shots but it never fails to take your breath away.

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Passes
There are special tickets available at some museums, which allow the holder a discount on the entrance price of another participating attractions. Special passes for the Palazzo Pitti – including the Galleria Palatina, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Galleria del Costume, Museo degli Argenti, Museo delle Porcellane and Giardino di Boboli – cost €10.50 and are valid for three days. The Argenti-Boboli pass covers the Giardino di Boboli, Museo delle Porcellane and Museo degli Argenti, costs €3 and is valid for three days. Tourists can also purchase an Accademia-Opificio ticket, which gives entry to the Galleria dell’Accademia and the Opificio delle Pietre Dure and costs €7. It is also valid for three days.

The passes are available for purchase at participating venues. Given the queues, visitors to Florence should perhaps consider booking tickets in advance (tel: (055) 294 883). There is a €1.55 surcharge for reserved tickets for the state museums.

Tourist Information
Azienda di Promozione Turistica (APT)
Via Cavour 1r
Tel: (055) 290 832. Fax: (055) 276 0383.
E-mail: infoturismo@provincia.fi.it
Website: www.firenze.turismo.toscana.it
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 0830-1830 and Sun 0830-1330.

Other branches are located outside the central station, at the airport, at Via Manzoni 16 and in Borgo Santa Croce, near the church.

 

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Getting to Florence

Situated in the northwest of Italy, surrounded by the wine-growing hills of Chianti, the city attracts rapture and frustration in equal proportions.

When's best to visit Florence?

It is best for visitors to avoid the peak summer months of July and August, when the weather can be unbearably sticky and the prospect of trailing around museums becomes unappealing. Early autumn, when the countryside glows with mellow fruitfulness, is the best time to visit, avoiding the heat and the queues and capitalising on the soft light, empty streets and the abundance of wild mushrooms and just-pressed olive oil.