Experience a renaissance revival in Florence, Italy

 While Florence, Italy is smaller than Rome or Venice, it’s packed full of destinations for art and history lovers as well as attractions for foodies and smart shoppers. Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance and the historic center of Florence has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982. It retains its historic site status by the careful preservation of ancient streets, buildings, fountains and monuments. 

It’s a city where you can get fabulous gelato, see Michelangelo’s “David” and pick up some great designer bargains. 

Your travel advisor at GetAway Travecan set up your tours of city attractions based on your interests. Buying your tickets to tours and sites in the city ahead of time means less time standing in line and more time enjoying your getaway! 

Opportunities for art lovers 

 The capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, Florence is home to masterpieces of architecture and art. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, known as the Duomo Cathedral is easily recognized by its terracotta-tiled dome. The dome’s design was engineered by Brunelleschi and the neighboring bell tower by Giotto, but the exterior is also a marvel of architectural features including a decorative mix of pink, white and green marble insets. 

Windows inside along the narrow interior walkways offer great views of the city and the floors are “carpeted” in marble mosaics. 

If you are feeling particularly fit, climb the 400 or so stairs in the Giotto bell tower for panoramic views of the city. Stop to rest about halfway up and take a look at the sculptures. 

The Uffizi Gallery is on the first and second floor of the u-shaped Palazzo degli Uffizi on the Arno River. Created by the Medici family in the 16th Century, it houses Botticellli’s “Birth of Venus” as well as numerous other masterpieces including Raphael’s “Madonna of the Goldfinch.” 

The Accademia Gallery Museum features works of great Italian sculptors including Michelangelo. His “David” resides here, although there are a number of llfe-sized replicas throughout the city. In addition to the fabulous sculptures, there are also paintings and a recent addition to the museum is the Museum of Musical Instruments. 

The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is considered a premiere example of gothic architecture and it has a spectacular frescoed interior. 

 Eating, drinking and shopping 

 Open air cafes, shops, restaurants and bakeries ensure you won’t go hungry in Florence. Indulge in pasta, paninis and pizza (the traditional wood-fired, hand-held kind), as well as cantucci, which are almond biscuits, cannoli, candy and rabbit ragu. Bistecca alla Florentina is a superb steak dish which can be found in eateries around the city. Regional wines include Brunello which is flavored with roses and cherries and Vernacci which uses grapes from Tuscany and includes saffron, flowers and honey. 

Florence is famous for its leather goods. You can find bargains at flea markets which are set up under cover in different areas of the city, or markets which open once a month. Check for antiques at the Florence Antique Market or the Fiesole Vintage Market. There’s amazing food at Mercato Centrale. 

Designer houses and shops are along the Via e’Tornabuoni. Pick up hats, jewelry and leather goods as well as cosmetics and perfumes from Gucci, Pucci, Prada, Armani, Valentino and Fendi. 

You can get a custom-made perfume at the Officiur Profumo Farmaceutica Di Santa Maria Novella which is located in the oldest pharmacy in the world. There, monks created the official perfume for Catherine de Medici which you can still purchase. 

 And, some advice 

We know you are on vacation and you want to wander in shorts, a tank top and flip flops, but Italians take having a respectful attitude towards their cathedrals and basilicas very seriously. It is recommended you wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. You’ll thank us for that later, not only will the residents be more apt to talk to you and help you out, you won’t get chilled. It is pretty cool inside buildings constructed of stone and marble. 

As for the flip flops, you are going to be doing quite a bit of walking and standing, invest in comfortable shoes. 

Also, use some strategy when you are planning your day. Many of the stores and shops close for lunch. 

Advice, travel strategy and tips as well as personal service are just some of the reasons to use GetAway Travel. Contact Sue or Paul at: (262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel or paul@getaway.travel 

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