The capital of Tuscany (441,000 inhabitants), founded by Ceasar, is located on a plain on the banks of the Arno and is encircled by rolling, green hills. In the 12th century, Florence started to expand and between the middle of the 13th and 14th century, the town experienced one of its periods of unprecedented prosperity and growth. Florence made an enormous contribution to Italian artistic and cultural history and is still a cultural centre. In addition, the towns attractiveness is enhanced by its exceptionally beautiful surroundings. A visit to Florence is a must for every visitor to Tuscany.
It is extremely convenient that most of the important sights are within walking distance of each other. However, Florence is a busy and expensive town. Wherever there are tourists, prices are high and Florence is, in that respect, no exception.
You should reserve plenty of time to visit Florence. You cannot see everything the town has to offer in one or two days. You really need at least 5 or even 6 days. You can do it in less however. For example, you do not have to visit all the churches and museums. Nevertheless, they do all have something that makes a visit worthwhile. The following is a selection for those who can only spend a limited number of days in Florence. The foursome of the cathedral, baptistery, Palazzo Vecchio and Galleria degli Uffizi is a must. But really, you immediately ought to add the Capelle Medicee (near the S. Lorenzo) and the Galleria dellAccademia. And if you visit the latter, you will also be close to the San Marco where you should really take time to admire the works of Beato Angelico in the monastery. The frescos of Masaccio in the Cappella Brancacci of the Santa Maria del Carmine are also a high point to any visit. And once you are there, it is not far to the Santo Spirito and the not to be sneezed at Palazzo Pitti with its magnificent collection of paintings and gardens. As you can see, a quick visit to Florence is no mean task, unless you choose for a more thematic approach: gothic or Renaissance, architecture, sculpture or painting. But even after narrowing things down to these categories, you will still need plenty of time to see everything.
Florence is also a major fashion centre. Those who want to go shopping will have to have a pretty bulging purse. The rest of us can, of course, feast our eyes on the displays in the many boutique windows which are often housed in beautifully converted old buildings.
Eating out in Florence unfortunately means ending up in restaurants which try to entice custom using a "menu turistico". That is: average food for a relatively high price. The more charming eateries are generally to be found in small out-of-the-way streets.
The few visitors who do not collapse exhausted into their beds at night and who perhaps want to get a taste of the Florentine nightlife will end up disappointed. Everything closes in Florence at midnight and after that the town is deserted.
Florence has become world famous because of its wealth of monuments and works of art. Florence (the Italians call it Firenze), which is derived from the Latin "Florentia", the flourishing town has been living up to its name for centuries.