Florence, locally known as Firenze, is the capital of the beautiful region of Tuscany. The city is considered an artistic, cultural and architectural gem with a fantastic collection of unrivalled treasures. As the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance it was politically and culturally the most important city in Europe from 1300 to the early 1500s.
The city of Florence was so wealthy that it funded industry across Europe, financed the Pope, developed the Italian language in place of Latin and backed many pioneering voyages of discovery. Galileo studied astronomy and anatomy in Florence and it was the birthplace of opera. The powerful Medici family paid for the best artisans to work on the city including Giotto, Botticello, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Other artists visited Florence and were greatly influenced by it. The results are still magnificent even 600 years later.
Florence has many beautiful churches which are decorated and filled with some of the finest art in the world. The Cathedral, or Duomo, with its massive dome was built in the 1200s and still dominates the skyline. Views from the Dome over the city are magnificent and well worth climbing the 464 steps. Alongside the Duomo is the Baptistery with its gilded bronze Doors of Paradise and the wonderful Belltower by Giotto.
Beyond the churches and palazzos are many art galleries including the Uffizi Gallery and the Pitti Palace, two of the most famous in the world alongside the Accademia with Michelangelo's "David" and other masterpieces of sculpture.
After drinking in so much culture, take a stroll along the River Arno or browse the shops on the famous Ponte Vecchio. The only way to get around is on foot, but Florence is largely contained in a square mile. Buses frequently run between the train station and Florence Airport making a car largely unnecessary. At the end of the day relax and enjoy some of Tuscany's other treasures – the superb cuisine and local wine for which the region is world-famous.