The capital of Italy's Tuscany region, Florence (Firenze) is home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture, but also the best of today's culinary creations. If you desire a dose of culture, history, and edible works of art, Florence is an ideal vacation locale and the dream of many. Although you could do Flroence in a weekend, you would only scratch the surface. We suggest a week, spending the majority of the time in the city and a day or two touring the Tuscan countryside for wine tastings and the postcard-worthly cities of San Gimignano and Siena. Get ready to embark on an Italian adventure of food, art, architecture, shopping, and beautiful vistas, all in one spot. Andiamo!
Without a doubt, the top destination in Florence is the Santa Maria del Fiore or il Duomo; the cathedral is located in the city center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This terra-cotta-tiled dome cathedral is one of the largest in the world, bowing to St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. The construction of il Duomo lasted from 1420 to 1436, and today the engineering feat is admired by visitors and locals alike. The cathedral's creation included valuable contributions from the Renaissance's most prominent artists, including Michelangelo, Donatello, and others.
Entrance into the cathedral is free, but if you want to tour Brunelleschi's Dome, Giotto's Bell Tower, the Baptistery of San Giovanni, and the Opera del Duomo Museum, you'll need tickets. For the adventurous, il Duomo presents a challenge: climbing to the top. It is a tight spiral staircase, but the views are worth every step. Plus, you can reward yourself with tasty Tuscan delights when you return streetside.
If Italy is known for one thing; it's food. Some traditional dishes not to skip are ribollita (a heartybread, bean, and greens soup); bistecca alla Fiorentina (typically served rare); and lampredotto (offal, yet delicious, sandwich). You can pair all of these with the local, bold, red wine, Brunello di Montalcino. A great stop for any foodie and even the pickiest eater is the Mercato Centrale. This market is a combination of food stands with local cheeses, olives, oils, and breads as well as restaurants with plenty of room to sit and enjoy multiple courses. Save room for exceptional desserts, such as Florentine chocolate or zuccotto (a chilled, dome-shaped dessert similar to tiramisu).
Want to know more about Firenze? Read full article in Home By Design here.