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Florence is world-renowned as the "cradle of the Renaissance" (la culla del Rinascimento) for its monuments, churches and historic buildings.

To enjoy these wonders during a relaxing holiday, the area around Florence is home to some magnificent vacation homes nestled in the Tuscan countryside. Palaces castlesand farms lodgings, and villas and apartments which are available for vacation rentals to welcome holidaymakers eager for beauty, calm and voluptuousness. To visit Florence, there's nothing like renting a holiday cottage in the Chianti or Tuscan hills.

The historical riches of Florence

Florence's most famous landmark is the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, known as the "Duomo", whose dome was built by Filippo Brunelleschi. The dome, 600 years after its completion, is still the largest brick-and-mortar dome in the world. Also worth seeing are the nearby Campanile, partly designed by Giotto, and the Baptistery buildings. The city center is surrounded by medieval walls, built in the 14th century to defend the town. In the heart of the city, in Piazza della Signoria, stands Bartolomeo Ammannati's Fountain of Neptune (1563-1565), a masterpiece of marble sculpture located at the terminus of a working Roman aqueduct.

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The town's layout and structure in many ways dates back to Roman times, when it was conceived as a garrison colony. Most of the city was built during the Renaissance, but there are also traces of medieval, baroque and neoclassical architecture.

Florence contains many palaces and buildings from different eras. The Palazzo Vecchio is Florence's town hall and art museum. This great Romanesque crenellated palace-fortress overlooks the Piazza della Signoria with its copy of Michelangelo's statue of David, as well as the gallery of statues in the adjacent Loggia dei Lanzi. The Palazzo della Signoria (also known as the Palazzo Vecchio) opposite still houses the municipal government. Many important episodes in local history took place here.

The Arno River, which crosses the old town, is a character in Florentine history like many of its inhabitants.

To visit: the Ponte Vecchio in Tuscany

One of its bridges in particular is remarkable: the Ponte Vecchio (the old bridge), whose most striking feature is the multitude of stores built along its banks. The bridge also carries the Corridoio Vasariano linking the Uffizi Museum to the Medici residence, Palazzo Pitti.

Cities for art lovers

The Palazzo Vecchio as well as the Duomo are the two buildings that dominate the landscape.

There are also numerous museums and art galleries housing some of the world's most important works of art. The city is one of the world's best-preserved centers of Renaissance art and architecture, with a high concentration of art, architecture and culture. Nearby is the Uffizi Gallery, one of the world's finest art museums, established by a major bequest from the last member of the Medici family, and featuring a vast collection of Florentine art.

The Museo Galileo, located on the banks of the Arno, not far from the Palazzo dei Offices, is the new name of Florence's museum of the history of science. Cosimo de' Medici, founder of the dynasty, was a patron of the arts and sciences, as were his descendants, the Grand Dukes of Tuscany. The museum houses a collection of his most important inventions, including the spectacles of the scientist Galileo (1564-1642). And let's not forget the famous phrase from his trial: "And yet it turns".

The Galleria dell'Accademia houses a collection by Michelangelo, including the David. Other museums and galleries include the Bargello, which focuses on sculptures by artists such as Donatello, Giambologna and Michelangelo; the Palazzo Pitti, home to numerous Renaissance works, including several by Raphael and Titian. Adjacent to the palace are the Boboli Gardens, beautifully landscaped and adorned with numerous sculptures.

The beautiful Tuscan countryside conceals, a few kilometers from Florence, the Medicean villas in which one finds, through the gardens which surround them, all the refinement of the Renaissance.

And for lovers of Michelangelo, the Casa Buonarroti, built by Leonardo, nephew of Michelangelo (1475-1564) and heir to the Master. It houses the first two works of the great sculptor, drawings and sketches in terracotta.

There are several churches and religious buildings in Florence: the Basilica of San Lorenzo, one of the city's largest churches and the burial place of the leading members of the Medici family, Florence's most powerful family from the 15th to 18th centuries, with statues by Michelangelo; the Basilica of Santa Croce, the city's main Franciscan church and the burial place of some of Italy's most illustrious figures, including Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli and Rossini...

You can see that there is plenty to do for a tourist with a passion for the Renaissance period and art in general, and architecture, sculpture and painting in particular. And you will find the typical holiday cottage of your dreams nearby… Tuscany and Florence, your next holiday destination!

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