Florentia—literally "florid city"—was the name given by the Romans to this settlement founded in the I century AD along the Arno river, at the foot of Fiesole, an Etruscan city whose ruins are visible on the hill which dominates the city. The flowering of Florence in art, culture and international trade began in the 13th century and reached its peak in the 15th century under the reign of the Medici family, who ruled over the city for more than three centuries.
Everywhere you turn in Florence, you find extraordinary works of art and architecture, which attract almost 8 million tourists every year—from the Palazzo Vecchio to the world-famous Uffizi Gallery to the Cathedral with its magnificent dome and the tower designed by Giotto. Along the river Arno the Ponte Vecchio, with its jewellery shops is a must for all those who pass through the city, as well as the splendid Boboli gardens across the river.
Florence is also an international wine and gastronomic centre, Chianti is its most famous local product together with the celebrated Fiorentina steak on the bone.
Cattedrale Santa Maria del Fiore
Florence's main church stands on the city with its magnificent Renaissance dome, designed by Brunelleschi. The cathedral was built on the ruins of the 7th century church of Santa Reparata. On its right side you can admire Giotto’s Bell Tower, whereas the Baptistery of San Giovanni stands opposite the cathedral entrance. This remarkable historic landmark can be considered a summary of the entire city, as point of convergence of the greatest artists of the glorious Italian Renaissance period.
Santa Maria Novella
The church of Santa Maria Novella is located just a few metres from the railway station which shares its name, so it is easy to find. Chronologically, it is the first great basilica of the city, it was built between 1279 and 1357 by the Dominican order. Architecturally, it is one of the most important Gothic edifices in Tuscany. Inside the building, you will find masterpieces by Masaccio, Giotto and Brunelleschi.
Situated on the Piazza del Carmine in front of the church, Dolce Vita is a trendy, vibrant bar that draws stylish and flirtatious crowd of locals and tourists. In the summer time, the large terrace makes a great place to mingle while sipping a delicious cocktail. The venue also features small exhibitions where works by local and international artists are displayed.
Good to know
The best way to get around Florence is on foot. The city centre is not very large and is full of monuments and amazing things to see.
The local transport companies are ATAF and LI-NEA. A ticket can be bought in newsstands, tobacconists or any shop with an "ATAF" sticker in the window, and it is valid for 90 minutes. Always remember to validate your ticket by stamping it when boarding the bus.
220 V. Power outlet: two or three holes.