Ponte Vecchio Pictures, Florence, Italy
One of Europe's most beautiful, walkable city centres and the
capital of Tuscany, Florence (in Italian: Firenze) contains a mass of incredible structures, statues
and a real best-of-medieval feel, if you can ignore the
eternal scaffolding and tourist overload.
A big player historically, Firenze contains many artistic wonders in both stone and oils, inside and out, endless quirky details and spectacular
interiors. It's a must-see,
but not in the summertime if possible, though the Bugcrew arrived there in July (by chance!) and enjoyed the experience enormously in spite of the crowds.
Click on images to see more of those Florence attractions
The best overview of Florence (Firenze in Italian) is from the hilltop of Piazzale Michelangelo, and the best time to be there is in the morning with the sun behind you. This is an excellent starting point for a walk around the city's main sights.
Then it's a short stroll beside the river to incredible Ponte Vecchio or a diversion left to visit the Palazzo Pitti. Cross the bridge and almost immediately you'll be in Florence's best square, della Signoria (photo below), with Uffizi and Palazzo Vecchio museums only metres away.
Next it's either a trot right to visit Santa Croce church and its tombs of medieval celebrities or 5 minutes up Via de Calzaiuoli to the Duomo area - Piazza di San Giovanni, to admire the elaborate exterior and the interiors of both the Duomo (free) and the Baptistry.
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Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria Pictures, and Cellini's Perseus with the head of Medusa.
della Signoria is another major attraction in Firenze, with its multitude of frequently grotesque statues such as Cellini's Perseus, the Palazzo Vecchio museum and the adjacent, world famous Uffizi gallery.
Il Duomo Pictures, Florence's huge and colourful (mainly the exterior) cathedral.
Number one Florence attraction is the amazing, pink white and green Duomo cathedral (no charge to enter the interior) along with its glorious, neighbouring Baptistry doors and ceiling and Giotto's spectacular Campanile tower with great city views if you can handle 400 steps.
Great value and style shopping in street markets as well as some shops.
Florence weather is best from May- September.
OK: July, August means mooing herds of tourists and some heat, though museum and church interiors make a great escape. Summer average temperatures range from 17C - 31C (63F-88F).
The wettest and coldest months generally are October, December, March, April.
Piazzale Michelangelo. South bank pictures.
Not only Florence's best viewpoint but Piazzale Michelangelo is also (IMHO) the best morning tour starting point and all-day free parking, a major plus as finding parking in the city generally is difficult, pricey and frequently incomprehensible while the core attractions are impossible to park near, though they are compactly located so all are within an easy walk of each other once you're there.
• Fly to Pisa and take either train or bus to Florence. Trains run from Pisa Centrale station, cost under €10 and the journey takes about 1 hour. More train information.
• Fly to Florence's own little airport, Peretola, with either Air Italy or Meridiana.
• Driving? A bit chaotic but possible. Day-tripping tourists can park for free in Piazzale Michelangelo if they get there early enough.
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