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In the lush Tuscan countryside, the city of Florence stands out as a maze of tiny streets and white buildings. The grand cathedral is ever-present in the skyline, while, from the top of the dome, it’s a sea of red-tiled roofs. The region’s capital is packed with churches, museums and, of course, gelateria. It’s well worth asking our Activities Experts to add on a couple of days in Florence before or after your cycling holiday in Tuscany (click here to find out about our Tuscany tours).
Here a few of Florence’s gems:
The Duomo and Battistero
Climb the 476 stairs of this architectural beauty and get a peek at what the glorious Duomo looks like from the inside: colourful and ornately decorated. For a similar quad workout, go up the adjacent Bell Tower (all 414 steps) for just as monumental a view of the city skyline, but with the added bonus of a catching the dome at a fantastic angle.
Piazza della Signoria and Ponte Vecchio
This wide square is a thriving hub in the city, replete with a grand town hall and much-loved coffee shops to sit and watch the world go by. Nearby, the oldest bridge across the river, Ponte Vecchio, is a slice of history; it’s lined with shops and stalls and has been ever since it was rebuilt in 1345.
Galleria degli Uffizi
The Uffizi is probably one of the most spoken-about attractions in Florence—and it’s certainly worth the fuss. This striking building is not only a splendid architectural attraction, but it showcases stunning pieces by Caravaggio, as well as Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, among others. The Vasari Corridor is an underrated part of the gallery, a 1km-long hallway lined with portraits, stretching across the river from the Uffizi to the Palazzo Pitti.
Outside of the Vasari Corridor, you’ll find yourself in the Oltrarno neighbourhood. Here, in the small, winding streets, you can find a host of artisan shops, some of which have passed down from generation to generation, including shoemakers and tailors, goldsmiths and jewellers, bookbinders and ceramicists.
To counteract Florence's abundance of well-known paintings and portraits, a street art scene has taken root in the city. Clet Abraham is one of the area's most famous contemporary street artists, and delights in altering road signs and creating amusing pop-up installations.
Giardino delle rose
If you visit in the height of the sizzling Tuscan summer, the Giardino is an oasis of green and calm. Nestled between Piazzale Michelangelo and San Niccolò, the garden is home to 350 varieties of roses—hence the name—as well as scented lemon groves and a Japanese garden. We recommend visiting one of the hundreds of gelateria dotted around the city to arm yourselves with a scoop or two of ice cream before you take the rest of the day off to relax there.
The Holy Gates
A trip to the cemetery may sound a bit morbid, but Holy Gates is a beautiful example of architecture and is home to the city’s rich and famous from centuries gone by. It’s one of the largest cemeteries in Italy, and houses ornate tombs, mausoleums, intricate gates and inscriptions for a number of Florentine household names including Carlo Collodi, who created Pinocchio.
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