A center of medieval finance and trade and one of the wealthiest cities of the period, Florence, Italy is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance and is home to celebrated art and architecture. Welcoming nearly two million visitors each year, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the epitome of all things Italian, and a must-see destination for any Tuscany holiday
To really get a feel for the local culture, you can do no better than to rent apartments in the heart of the city, from which to venture out each day and enjoy all that this spectacular city has to offer.
This Tuscan jewel has plenty to keep the visitor occupied from dawn until well into the night. The city is a great place in which to enjoy leisurely strolls around the cobbled streets of the Centro Storico, interspersed with visits to cultural classics such as the Pitti Palace
and Uffizi Gallery
and relaxed dining and refreshments at one of the many cafes, pizzerias, trattorias and high-end restaurants
Florence is a photographer's paradise and is reason enough to be thankful for the age of the digital image. Nobody should miss climbing Il Duomo to marvel at the breathtaking 360 degree vistas of red-tiled rooftops, historic architecture and the rolling hills of distant vineyards. Visitors will also want to head for the Ponte alle Grazie, from which they can get the best pictures of the famed Ponte Vecchio area
. An evening stroll will also reveal a different and equally beautiful perspective of the city, as floodlights illuminate the most beautiful of buildings. While visitors who enjoy walking will not need it, the city has a very efficient bus service, which traverses the city, bringing all the must-see sights within just minutes of each other.
Boasting world-class shopping opportunities, Florence is particularly known for its paper goods, leather products
and jewelry. While bargains are not easy to find, visitors will get the best deals at artisanal markets, the most popular of which are the markets at Piazza San Lorenzo, Mercato Nuovo Porcellino and Mercato Centrale, where antiquities, arts, crafts and food can all be purchased. At the other end of the shopping spectrum are the high-end designer houses located on elegant Via de' Tornabuoni and Via della Vigna Nuova. Housed in old palaces and other historic properties, the world's most renowned fashion houses all have a presence here.