If you're headed to Italy this season, Florence is likely on your list of cities to visit. This metropolis of around 400,000 residents is the capital of the Tuscany wine-growing region as well as the historic home of Renaissance artists like Michelangelo and Da Vinci. It's also one of Italy's fashion capitals and economic centers. There's so much to see and do in this vibrant city, you might not know where to turn first. However, these four "must-see" attractions belong on anyone's Florence itinerary.
What to see and do in Florence
1. Uffizi Gallery. One of the oldest and most important art galleries in the world, the Uffizi Gallery was originally built in the 14th century by the Medicis as an office complex. Today, the gallery houses masterpieces by Da Vinci, Durer, Botticelli, Titan, Rembrandt, and Caravaggio, among others. More than a million people visit the Uffizi Gallery each year.
2. Ponte Vecchio. The Ponte Vecchio (or the "Old Bridge") is a medieval arch bridge that spans the Arno River, which cuts through the center of Florence. The bridge is noted for its many shops built along the sides of the bridge. Today, they are mostly tourist vendors, but they still add to the charm of the structure.
3. The Florence Cathedral. The symbol of Florence, the Florence Cathedral (otherwise known as Santa Maria del Fiore) and its red brick dome ("duomo") is visible from points all over the city. The cathedral, completed in 1436, is adorned with marble panels on the exterior and its three bronze entry doors, designed by Niccolo Barabino, depict scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary. Inside, the church has 44 stained glass windows as well as paintings and statues by some of Renaissance Italy's greatest artists.
4. The Statue of David. One of Michelangelo's greatest works is the 17-foot tall, nude statue of the biblical David. One installed outside in the Palazzo della Signoria, the original was moved in the late 19th century to the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence to help preserve it. You can see the original at the gallery or view a replica in the site where it was first installed.
You could spend a month in Florence and not see all that this fascinating city has to offer. However, to get a good taste of the city, be sure to explore the Florence Cathedral, the Uffizi Gallery, the Statue of David and the Ponte Vecchio. If you want more information about touring Italy, contact companies like Rainbow Travel.