Florence, city of light. Florence cradle of the Renaissance. What has not been
said about Florence?
Despite the millions of words written and countless photographs taken, Florence
has to be experienced at least once. If it can only be a once-in-a-lifetime
visit you really must include the major treasures.
The Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore), the unmistakable symbol of Florence. If
you have the energy climb the steps to Brunelleschi's dome (completed in 1436)
and admire the frescoes by Vasari and Frederico Zuccari. Continue your climb
between the inner and outer skins of the dome to emerge into sunlight by Michelozzo's
marble lantern, which crowns the dome. The views over the city are spectacular
and not to be missed.
The Baptistery, and in particular the jaw-droppingly exquisite East Doors on
which Ghiberti worked from 1426 to 1452 and which Michelangelo declared "fit
to be the gates of Paradise" The Uffizi galleries, which now house one
of the worlds greatest art collections, and across whose courtyard gaze the
statues of Florence's greatest artists and writers.
Michelangelo's David in front of the Palazzo della Signoria. This is a copy
of course, the original, completed in 1504 is now in the Galleria dell'Accademia.
Of course there is more to Florence than great art, it is also a city of alleyways,
shops, cafes and markets, it is a city to explore on foot. Driving in Florence
is in any case a total nightmare.
Instead catch the 6:27a.m. train from Aulla but be warned, you may never want
to catch the train back. Before you return to your train or car, visit the flea
market near the Duomo and rub the nose of the bronze cinghiale (the wild boar)
and wish fervently to return to Florence!
Florence; Biography of a City by Christopher Hibbert published by Penguin.