While there are many lovely cities, towns and hamlets speckled throughout Italy, a stay in the capital city of Tuscany truly encompasses what the European nation is all about. Classic architecture, legendary artwork and statues that greet the eye around every corner create the perfect setting for exploring.
Florence—Firenze in Italian—dates back to 59 B.C. under the Roman rule of Julius Caesar. Known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, the city was home to many of the acclaimed artists of all time: Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo Da Vinci, Giotto. Their works and many others are located throughout the city in one form or another.
Housed in a substantial edifice—circa 1456—on the River Arno, the Uffizi Gallery houses many of the period’s master works, including da Vinci’s Annunciation. On a much smaller scale, The Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze is home to David, Michelangelo’s masterpiece. Nearby on the Piazza del Duomo, take in the Cathedral of Florence (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, also called the Duomo) that opened in the early 1400s. Next door, walk the 400-plus steps to the top of Giotti’s bell tower, rising 270 feet and presenting the most spectacular panoramic views in all of Florence.
A good map is a lifesaver in this city of winding and narrow stone-slab streets. But lacking the hustle-bustle of Rome, you feel at home in Florence, a nod to its streetscapes, lively residents, accommodations and cuisine. The Hotel Torre Guelfa allows guests access to its dramatic 13th-century tower, which we enjoyed almost as much as our meal at Trattoria da Benvenuto starring a gnocchi ragu and penne with roast pork. And nothing else tastes as genuine as Italian fare with an authentic Chianti Classico.
Guest Author: Kevin Fritz
I have an innate ambition to experience the world first-hand. In the past couple of years, I traveled to Saudi Arabia for research, and spent Christmastime with my wife, Christi, in Brussels and Paris, and Easter in Dublin. We have explored Bolivia, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Belgium, France, Poland, Costa Rica, the Virgin Islands, Canada and the U.S. A journalist for 40 years, I authored the novel Crossover, and received my BS in Journalism from Ohio University. Check out Kevin’s portfolio.