Top attractions to see in Florence

Thursday, 28 June 2014 12:56 PM

When you travel to Italy for a walking holiday you will have the opportunity to discover some of the country's amazing countryside and historical cities. Tuscany is perhaps one of the best destinations for an active break and Florence is a true gem.

No matter where in Tuscany you intend to spend the majority of your trip, make sure you have at least one or two days to explore all Florence has to offer. The city is renowned for its amazing architecture, displaying designs from the Renaissance period alongside those with a Gothic twist.

It is also home to world-class art galleries, of which the most famous is the Uffizi. You can begin your day here, wandering among its many exhibitions of works by famous Italian masters and painters from elsewhere in the world. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Lippi are among the Italians represented here, while pieces by Rubens, Rembrandt and other European artists are also on show.

One of the highlights of a trip to the Uffizi Gallery is walking down the one kilometre-long Vasarian Corridor. This remarkable bridge between the Palazzo Vechhio and Palazzo Pitti was constructed in the 17th century to enable the ruling Medici family to cross the River Arno without mingling with their subjects. The corridor is now home to over 1,000 self portraits completed by a wide range of artists, with old masters at home alongside contemporary talent.

After exploring the Uffizi Gallery, head across the Ponte Vecchio - or old bridge. The structure dates back centuries and is the only bridge to have been left standing by the Germans when they retreated at the end of World War II. There are numerous goldsmiths whose workshops and stores line the bridge and it is worth taking your time as you cross so you can admire their wares - and the amazing views down the River Arno.

If you cross the bridge from the direction of the Uffizi, you will be well placed to admire the Palazzo Pitti - a striking Renaissance building - in all its glory. Step inside the palace and you will discover a range of exciting museums and exhibitions all under one roof. Among the establishments situated here are the Costume Museum, the Gallery of Modern Art and the Porcelain Museum. A further highlight is the Boboli Gardens, which are a delight to discover.

This green space around the palace is home to a range of sculptures, some dating back as far as the 16th century, as well as presenting excellent examples of Italian formal gardens. If you want to enjoy a bit of fresh air before continuing your tour, this is the place to do it.

Round off your tour of Florence with a visit to Piazza del Duomo, where you will not only see fantastic Renaissance architecture, but also buildings exhibiting styles from different eras. The cathedral with its impressive dome, which was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, is a well-known part of the city's skyline. Next to the cathedral stands Giotto's bell tower, which was constructed in a Gothic style.

Opposite the cathedral is another religious building - the Baptistery of St John - which is characterised by its large, bronze doors. Each of these is decorated by scenes from the saint's life and the bible, while above every entrance are sets of statues.

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Situated in north-eastern Tuscany, Florence is a city fabled for its fine art and fantastic architecture. It will come as no surprise, then, to hear it is a wonderful destination for chic holidays spent perusing galleries, browsing the shops and soaking up the sunshine.

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