Italy is rich in history and culture, and few of its cities display this as impressively as Florence. The capital city of Tuscany is home to approximately 370,000 people and was one of the wealthiest cities of the Renaissance era, thanks to its role as a major trade and finance centre. Nowadays, it attracts millions of tourists every year who come to see its museums, art galleries and architectural delights. Florence also provides an ideal base for those wishing to see the sights of rural Tuscany and nearby cities such as Pisa, Lucca and Siena.
Florence is located in the central region of Italy on the Arno River, approximately 80km east of the Mediterranean Sea. It is the biggest city in the region and has often been likened to an open-air museum, due to its plethora of monuments, palaces and churches. It is known to have been inhabited since before the tenth century, although it may have been a Roman settlement as far back as the first century BC.
Visitors staying in hotels or holiday apartments in Florence will have plenty to see and do. Here are some of the city's major highlights:
Uffizi Gallery - The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most famous museums in the world and one of the most visited in Italy. Construction of the palace in which the gallery is housed was completed in 1581 and the building gradually began to display more and more of the Medici family's collections of paintings and sculptures as the years passed. Many of the current collection date from the 12th to 17th centuries, including works by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raffaello.
Palazzo Vecchio - Built in the early 14th century, the palace is one of the most famous landmarks of Florence. It is home to the city government and also houses a museum that is well worth visiting. The building overlooks the Piazza della Signoria, where tourists can see a copy of Michelangelo's famous 'David' statue.
The Accademia Gallery - The original 'David' can be seen here, standing more than 4m tall. Other Michelangelo treasures can also be seen in the gallery, alongside masterpieces by Botticelli and Filippino Lippo.
The Boboli Gardens - This park houses an impressive collection of sculptures that date back to the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, as well as some Roman antiquities. Work on the formal gardens began in the 16th century and they have since been extended to 11 acres.
There are two main airports in Tuscany - the small Florence Airport, Peretola, and the larger Pisa International Airport. The easiest way to get to Florence from Florence Airport is via bus or taxi, while passengers arriving in Pisa can easily take the train to Florence's Santa Maria Novella railway station.
Florence is similar to much of the rest of Europe, in that the most pleasant times of year weather-wise are spring and autumn. Early spring may be the best bet for those keen to avoid packed streets, as warm weather tends to arrive ahead of the tourist buses in Florence.
If you're planning a trip to Italy, why not take a look at our holiday apartments in Florence? We offer high quality accommodation in key central locations that is often much more affordable than staying in a hotel.
All Florence apartments are available for online booking for the convenience of the travelers and direct reservation.