Lucca, A Fun Filled Day Trip From Florence, Italy

Planning a trip to the city of Florence, Italy? Be sure to make plans to spend at least a day in the lovely city of Lucca. With trains running between the two cities all day long, reaching this city is relatively easy and well worth the trip. The journey to this historic city takes approximately 80 minutes by train one way, which leaves plenty of time to visit the city and be back to your Florence apartments by the end of the day.

Piazza Anfiteatro, Lucca, ItalyLucca is entirely surrounded by walls and ramparts, providing its visitors with the sense that they are travelling back in time. Atop the walls, foot and bike paths provide tourists with a unique view of the city and the surrounding countryside. From this vantage point, travellers are able to see what soldiers defending the city saw during times of war.

Located in the Piazza San Martino, the Cathedral of St. Martin (Duomo di San Martino) is a lasting work of art that is full of tradition and history. The original church that occupied the site was replaced by the existing Cathedral in the 6th century and has undergone many changes since, including the addition of a tomb for the body of San Regolo which was added in the 8th century.

A local museum where the building is as compelling as the collections it houses is the Museo della Cattedrale. The building has several levels and contains historical objects including wooden sculptures of John the Baptist’s Head and other 16th century artwork. The museum also houses an authentic Francesco Vanni Crucifixion painting which is on display for all to see.

Arguably the most popular attraction in Lucca is the Torre Guinigi which is one of two towers still standing today. The Tower protrudes from the 14th century palace which was once the home of the ruling family of the time. The structure stands at an impressive 44 meters (144 feet) and is accessible via a 230 step stairwell. Upon reaching the top, visitors are treated to an amazing view of the Lucca skyline with the Garafagnana Mountains and Apuan Alps in the background.

Upon conclusion of taking in the sights of the city, sitting down to a nice meal before heading back to Florence is the perfect end to a perfect day. Gli Orti di Via Elisa, a pizzeria located near Porta Elisa at the easternmost gate, is both reasonably priced and full of old-world charm. With instruments lining the walls and a menu full of authentic dishes and some of the best pizza found anywhere, this is a must stop for anyone visiting the city.

When traveling to Lucca, plan on taking at least one full day to take in all the sights of this lovely city. Travelers have been known to stay on more than a single day; as such, a wide variety of accommodation is available in Lucca as well as apartments in Florence. Be sure to take a trip to this beautiful city when visiting Florence, you will not regret it.


Travel To The Marble Quarries of Carrara, Italy

Guest Post By: Margie Miklas

If you are going to Tuscany but looking for some place “off the beaten path” Carrara is the place to go.
There is no place like it and you will be amazed how the sheer immensity of this natural marble basin.
An easy day trip from Florence, Carrara is located approximately 60 miles northwest of Florence and
easily accessible by train or car.Quarries Carrara, Itlay

Famous for the gleaming white marble mountains that can be seen from outer space, Carrara is not
nearly as touristy as Florence or Siena. Carrara’s marble quarries are present day working quarries and
these same quarries produced the white marble that Michelangelo used to sculpt his famous statue of

The Quarries of Carrara, ItalyAs I learned on my tour of the quarries, there are three separate basins encompassing 23 km of marble.
They include Colonnata, Fantiscritti and Torano. I visited the Fantiscritti basin and the white-knuckle
ride in a 4X4 up the mountain was definitely an adventure, but so worth it. The views from the top were
spectacular, and this was the same location where the opening chase scene in the 2008 James Bond
film, Quantum of Solace, was filmed.

Once at the top of the mountain, I was required to wear a hard hat and learned quite about the exterior
quarrying techniques. The entire process is very labor-intensive, and to validate the level of danger
involved in quarry work, there is a field emergency medical facility right at the quarry. A small marble
museum and gift shop are also located at the Fantiscritti quarry entrance.

Marmo Tour Carrara, ItalyThe tour guides are very knowledgeable about the process and the history of the quarry, and the tour
involved inspection of the tools used to do the actual work today, as well the old tools of years gone
by. A few visitors from various countries were also touring the quarries and the guides were fluent in
English, Italian, German and several other languages.

Carrara Marble Tours, Carrara, ItalyAfter this part of the tour was completed, another tour company offered tours inside the quarry, where
you can see a different perspective of marble quarrying. On this shorter tour, lasting approximately 30
minutes, you ride in a jeep close to half a mile inside the quarry and learn how the interior quarrying is
accomplished. The entire process is amazing and you see another part of Tuscany that not many tourists
ever appreciate.

Men especially like this tour after spending hours in art museums and shopping for leather in Florence.
Carrara offers a different side of Italy, a little more adventurous perhaps, and one that will not be soon

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Shopping in Florence, Italy

Guest Post By: Karen Mills 

While visiting the many wonderful historical sites and museums in Florence, many want to take

advantage of the tremendous shopping opportunities for wonderful Italian designs. There is no

shortage of opportunities in Florence!

Ferragamo Shoe Museum, Florence ItalyFor the really high end designer stores, head to elegant via Tournabouni. Starting at the river near

Ponte Santa Trinita, you will find the Palazzo Spini Feroni, which now houses Salvatore Ferragamo.

Alongside the retail merchant of Ferragamo, there is a shoe museum housing all of the creations of

Ferragamo, including those for his most famous clients, such as Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn. If

you head north towards Palazzo Strozzi you will find Prada, Bulgari, Gucci, Cavalli, Pucci, Burberry, and

more. There is even a Tiffany’s!

If you don’t spend all of your money there, or prefer more moderate options, there are plenty of those.

Mercato Centrale Florence, ItalyThere are three major Italian department stores in Florence, OVS, Rinascente, and Coin. Rinascente

is the high end, Coin, more moderate, and OVS the lower end. OVS is located near the train station of

Santa Maria Novella on via Panzani. Rinascente is located on Piazza della Repubblica and Coin on via

Calzaioli. All of these department stores carry the latest Italian fashions and have huge sales in August

and January.

If you have time to take a day trip just outside of Florence, consider going to the Barbarini Outlets. You

can take the SITA bus from the station adjacent to Santa Maria Novella, and spend a few hours there. It

is an open style outlet mall with all the designer names.

Street Shopping San Lorenzo Market Florence, ItalyOne of the most famous places to shop in Florence, and definitely the oldest is the Mercato San

Lorenzo. This is located in the San Lorenzo area and is a street full of vendors selling leather bags,

jackets, wallets, belts, purses, clothes, watches, and jewelry. You can also find leather bound photo

albums, diaries, handmade glass items and souvenirs. Be sure to bargain with the vendors for the best

price available. It is expected! If your time is too short to make a trip into San Lorenzo, try the Nuovo

Mercato, located in Piazza di Porcellino, near the Ponte Vecchio. You will find that the selection is not as

large, and the prices will be a little higher.

If you are looking for food gifts to return to friends and family, or something for a picnic, stop in Mercato

Shops of San Lorenzo Market, Florence, ItalyCentrale, also located in San Lorenzo. This market houses many small shops selling fresh meat, poultry,

fish, and vegetables, but also Italian delicacies such as prosciutto, salami, pecorino cheeses, olive

oils, pastas, and balsamic vinegar. There are wine shops and small restaurants where you can get a

sandwich. Even if you aren’t in the market for buying food items, go in and take a look at a great part of

the Italian market culture in Florence.

There are many artisans and small boutiques throughout the city of Florence and across the river in the

Oltrarno district. These small boutiques sell one of a kind fashion at a variety of price levels. There are

also the internationally famous stores for the younger set such as Zara, and H & M, also located on via

Calzaioli. Happy shopping!

For more information on Florence sites, visit

Karen Mills is an American woman who made the decision to leave her corporate life behind to live “la dolce vita” in Florence, Italy, Read more about her experiences at An American In Italy or contact her at

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Montepulciano, Hill Town in Tuscany, Italy

Guest Post By: Margie Miklas

Piazza Grande, Montepulciano, ItalyTuscany has so many towns and they are all on hills, but Montepulciano is the highest of them all at close
to 2000 feet elevation. Although this walled medieval town in southern Tuscany is not that easy to reach
without a car, it is well worth going for a day trip from Florence.

Arriving at Montepulciano

Although there is a train station in the town, it is far from the center of Montepulciano, and buses do not
stop there very often. Based on the advice of Rick Steves as well as my personal experience, the train
station at Chiusi is the better option. From there, you can take a bus to Montepulciano and the buses run
every hour or so. The best option however is to have a car.

Cantina Contucci Montepulciano, ItalyWine in Montepulciano

Aside from its Renaissance architecture and medieval charm, Montepulciano is known for its wine,
namely Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Rosso di Montepulciano. There are cantinas throughout the
town and one in particular welcomes travelers in a special way. Cantina Contucci is one of the oldest
wineries in Montepulciano, located inside Palazzo Contucci, where the Contucci family has lived since
the 11th century. On most days you can find the wonderfully friendly Adamo Pallechi inside the wine
cellar, where he has been making wine for over 50 years. He is more than happy to have you taste the
Contucci wines and even pose for a photo with you.

Palazzo Communale, Montepulciano, ItalyPiazza Grande

Piazza Grande is the real heart of Montepulciano, surrounded by buildings dating back to the 15th century.
Palazzo Communale was actually built in the 13th century and later remodeled in the 15th century. This
serves as the current town hall and was also the backdrop for the scene in the Twilight series New Moon
where Edward was standing and Bella ran into his arms. Piazza Grande was also the filming location for a
scene in Under the Tuscan Sun, when Diane Lane watched a flag throwing contest.

Inside Palazzo Communale is the entrance to the clock tower, which you can climb for the nominal fee
of one euro, the short climb of 26 rickety steps will reward you with beautiful views of the surrounding
countryside, as well as a different perspective of Piazza Grande.

Duomo Montepulciano,ItalyAlso located in this piazza is the Duomo or Cathedral of Montepulciano. Built between 1594 and 1680,
it was built on the site of the ancient Church of Santa Maria. Although the exterior facade was never
completed, the interior more than makes up for it, and is worthy of a visit.

Caffè Poliziano

When your feet are tired of negotiating all the hills and you are looking for something to eat or just a
coffee, try one of the oldest restaurants in Montepulciano. Open since 1868, this elegant restaurant has a
balcony with some of the best views of the Tuscan panorama. Good food, good coffee, great views and
Italian culture at its best is my description for Caffè Poliziano.

Montepulciano is one of those Tuscan hill towns that are amazing to wander through, as every corner
provides another photo opportunity and surprise. The smaller towns in Tuscany are some of my favorite
destinations and Montepulciano is at the top of the list.

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Top Tips and Suggestions for Traveling in Italy

Guest Post By: Karen Mills

Leaning Tower of Pisa, ItalyWhether traveling in Italy for the first time, or a return visit, there are some important things to remember that can make your travel experience a little less stressful.  These things aren’t always easily remembered or recognized if this is your first trip.  It is the little differences in processes, procedures, and culture that can make things uncomfortable if you aren’t aware.

1.            Learn some Italian words.  There are many English speaking Italians, and generally the language barrier is not a problem if you are in the larger cities.  Traveling to small towns can prove to be more of a challenge when it comes to language.  Italians are friendly, generous, and welcoming so a few words go a long way.  Take the time to learn “please, thank you, excuse me, I’m sorry, and Where is the bathroom?” at a minimum.

2.            When you go into a bar (this is a coffee shop, sandwich shop or cocktails) in Italy, always pay first before you order.  Take your receipt to the counter for ordering.  Remember that the prices are different if you sit at a table rather than stand at the bar.  It costs more to sit down, even if you order at the bar and take it to a table.

3.            Most bars have restrooms, but they are for customers only.  Schedule these bathroom breaks around your coffee breaks to insure you are comfortable while you are sightseeing.

4.            When using the trains in Italy, Don’t forget to stamp your ticket before boarding the train.  There are bright yellow boxes that look like time card stamps located at the front of each track.  Insert your ticket to be stamped with the date and time.  This is true for all tickets that do not have an assigned seat, so the regional trains.Florence Italy

5.            Carry a scarf or shawl in your bag to wrap around your shoulders when you enter the churches.  In the summer if you have on shorts, or a short skirt or bare shoulders, entrance might be denied, unless you have something to cover.

6.            Remember that service in restaurants in Italy is different than in the USA.  It is more relaxed, and you must always ask for the check (Il conto, per favore!).   If you are in a hurry, do not go into a sit down restaurant.  In Italy, meal time is almost sacred and the kitchens and wait staff are not prepared to accommodate you in a short time frame.

7.            Sandwiches can be enjoyed in bars quickly if necessary, but won’t be available on restaurant menus.  Italians don’t eat butter with their bread, nor do they pour oil on plates and dip the bread into it……this is an American thing.  They will accommodate you if you ask for it, but it is not their custom.  Salads are served at the end of the meal.  House wines are available in almost all restaurants and are usually much less expensive, but delicious.  I recommend you try them!  Three courses are customary in Italy, but not required.  If you are eating pizza, the three course custom is not expected.  If you decide to try the Bistecca Fiorentina while in Florence, expect it to be served rare.  This is a very thick cut of meat and is customarily served this way.  Don’t be surprised if they are unhappy with your request to cook it longer.

8.            The use of ice in soft drinks and water is not customary in Italy.  If you want ice, you will need to ask for it.  When you do, don’t be surprised if you get only 3-4 cubes.  Ice is an ecological drain, because of the water usage and electricity for freezing as well as the space that it takes up.

9.            Be “ecologically aware”.  In Italy, most lights are on timers, escalators in airports on motion detectors, etc.  In hotels, you may need your key to be inserted near the door to work the lights.  Many places will not use air conditioning, and at certain times of the year, air conditioning may not be available in your hotel.

10.          Make time in your travels to sit in the piazzas and enjoy the culture.  Piazzas are one of the most important cultural aspects of Italy.  In your busy travels, it might be easy to overlook taking the time for this important activity.  Enjoy a beverage or picnic in the square while people watching.

For more information on Florence sites, visit

Karen Mills is an American woman who made the decision to leave her corporate life behind to live “la dolce vita” in Florence, Italy, Read more about her experiences at An American In Italy or contact her at

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Florence, The Boboli Gardens at the Palazzo Pitti

Boboli Gardens at the Palazzo, Florence ItalyGuest Post By: Karen Mills

It was years after I started coming to Florence that I finally got around to visiting the Boboli Gardens. Being interested in the art and architecture of Florence, I focused my efforts on the museums created for those purposes while failing to realize that the Boboli Gardens has all of that and more! Now, it is one of my favorite places and I visit it frequently to take advantage of the cool green space and enjoy the art and architecture there. I even take a picnic and some wine, and have a spectacular view of the city!

Before you go, or when you get there, I recommend that you buy the guide book before entering. This way you can read about what you are seeing as you see it. I think this makes a more enjoyable experience than reading about it after the fact, and maybe not getting to look at certain features or details that you might have otherwise. The gift shop and book store is to your right as you enter the grand courtyard at the Pitti Palace.

Boboli Gardens, Florence ItalyThe land of the Boboli Gardens was part of the estate that Eleanora of Toledo, the wife of Cosimo I acquired in 1550 from the Pitti family. The gardens have had extensive work over the years, and vegetation has been changed and replaced. In the 1840’s the labyrinths were removed to build a pathway for carriages. However, the grounds still reflect the characteristic Italian garden from the original creation.

When you enter the Pitti Palace, you will pass through the Ammannati courtyard. This courtyard has 3 full size walls of the building and on the fourth wall; straight ahead you will see the Artichoke Fountain. Don’t miss the Grotto of Moses located within this courtyard and under the fountain.

Fountain Boboli Gardens at the Palazzo, Florence ItalyAs you make your way up the stairs and into the garden, you will start to get an idea of the views that are waiting for you as you go higher up into the garden. There is a lot of walking and much of it is uphill, so keep that in mind. Fortunately, there are places to sit and stop for a breather along the way, and you will want to do that to enjoy the panoramas, and the art work and statues. Continue to the top and stop at the Forcone Basin while making your way to the Statute of Plenty which was started by Giambologna, and finished my several other artists.

At the top of the hill you can see stunning views of Florence, and the path that you have traveled back to the Pitti Palace. From here you should go right and visit The Knight’s Garden. Here you will find beautiful views of the Italian countryside and the city wall as it makes its way to Porta Romana. Heading down to the Island Pond you will walk the Cypress Lane. It is beautiful itself with the tall cypresses, but the statues make it extra special.

Dwarf Morgante, Boboli Gardens, Florence ItalyIf you go back towards the Palace and explore the garden to the left, you will find the Annalena Grotto. The Grand Grotto, or Buontalenti’s Grotto is almost at the exit, and visits are permitted only upon authorization. I don’t know how you get authorization, but if I find out I will let you know. It is worth investigating, as once when I was in the garden it was opened and I got to go inside. It is worth seeing! Michelangelo’s prisoners once stood in the corners before being moved to the Accadamia, and currently there are copies there. As you exit, don’t miss the infamous statue of Dwarf Morganti, although the statue is fondly called Bacchus. I would plan a minimum of a half day to explore the gardens and more if you want to have a picnic and take some time to relax.

For more information on Florence sites, visit

Karen Mills is an American woman who made the decision to leave her corporate life behind to live “la dolce vita” in Florence, Italy, Read more about her experiences at An American In Italy or contact her at

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Florence, a Day Trip To Siena Italy


If you find yourself in Florence, Italy, and are one of the lucky ones that took a extended stay at one of the many hotels or Florence apartments available, you must make time for a day trip to nearby Siena. Just 50 kilometers from Florence, this beautiful Tuscan treasure never fails to deliver a unique experience. Situated on three hills, the extremely well preserved city is surrounded by olive trees and vineyards, and with a mild climate all year, there is never a bad time to visit.

Tuscany Town of Siena, ItalyMultiple trains leave daily from Florence and, in about an hour, arrive in Siena. Travel by car is even a touch quicker, but it should be noted that almost no traffic is even permitted in the city center. Either way, the minimal effort to get to Siena will be well rewarded.

Siena´s historic center, which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is worth the trip on its own. This stunning piazza is an architectural wonder that begs some exploration. There are a plethora of impressive cathedrals and museums in close proximity as well.

Of course the food is top notch, as is expected from any respectable Italian town. Highly recommended restaurants include Antica Trattoria Papei, Osteria del Ficomezzo, and Il Canto, which has been rated in the top 50 in the world. Also, don´t forget to try the wild boar that can be found on many local menus. As for the wine, Siena is located in the middle of arguably the best red wine region in the country. So whether you are enjoying a glass with a world class meal or splitting a bottle with some company as you watch the world go by, the wine is sure to be exquisite. Tuscan Landscape, Siena Italy

If you are lucky enough to visit on either July 2 or August 16, the famous Palio di Siena can´t be missed. This horse race is of the traditional medieval variety and is ran in the Piazza del Campo. Wildly popular even beyond Italy, this dangerous and brutal race draws huge crowds and brings a wealth of pride to the local population.

No matter when you choose to discover all that Siena has to offer, the friendly people, picturesque setting, fantastic food and drink, and exciting culture are all waiting to be experienced. The quick trip back to your apartments in Florence will make for a truly unforgettable time in a classically beautiful Siena, Italy.


Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence Italy

Guest Post By: Karen Mills

Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence ItalyAt least once per week and sometimes more in the summer, I head up to the panoramic view at Piazzale Michelangelo. The overlook was built by Giuseppe Poggi and was part of the cities urban renewal. At the time, Florence was the capital of Italy. (1869) This overlook can be reached by a few streets in Florence for a nice, uphill walk, or by bus number 12 or 13 from a variety of points throughout the city. You can buy tickets at the Tabbacci stores and they cost 1.20 euro and are good for 90 minutes.

The overlook is beautiful at any time of the day or any time of the year, but the sunsets in the summerFlorence City Wall from Piazzale Michelangelo that take place around 9 p.m. are breathtaking. The sky turns a variety of shades of yellow, orange, pink, and purple and with the Tuscan Hills as a background and the beautiful renaissance buildings of the Florence skyline, it makes for a romantic evening. You can see the Tuscan country side to the left with a view of Tuscan villas and olive trees and the rambling city wall that makes its way to Porta Romana. Inside the wall, you can see the Ponte Vecchio, Ponte Santa Trinita, and Carraia, along with the tower of Palazzo Vecchio, The Duomo and bell tower, San Lorenzo and the Chapel of the Medici, and Santa Croce.

Piazzale Michelangelo is a large open space with parking for cars, vendors who sell souvenirs, watercolors and food, and there is a monument to Michelangelo. (1871) The monument contains a bronze replica of the David, and the base of the statue is decorated with copies of the statutes that Michelangelo did to decorate the tomb of the Medici. (The originals are located in San Lorenzo).

There are a few restaurants at the Piazzale, offering a variety of foods. The restaurants include sit down dining with pastas and pizza, as well as a bar with sandwiches and gelato. There is an upscale restaurant located in the loggia which was built by Poggi and was intended to be a museum that would house Michelangelo’s work. That idea never came to fruition.

San Miniato al Monte, Florence ItalyIf you go in the summer, take a picnic and a bottle of wine. Go early because it gets crowded here for the sunset! Sometimes in the evening there is live music at the base of the stair facing the west where you can sit and enjoy the sunset.

Located above this site is the church and adjoining monastery of San Miniato al Monte. This church is one of the finest examples of Florentine Romanesque architecture in the city with its striking white and green marble. The view here is magnificent. At 4:30 in the afternoon, the monks of the Olivetans community perform Gregorian chants. There are works of art by Michelozzo, Gaddi, and Luca della Robbia.

Don’t miss the gift shop to the left of the church. There are handmade soaps, oil, liqueurs and honey made by the monks in the monastery.

View from Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence ItalyFor more information on Florence sites, visit

Karen Mills is an American woman who made the decision to leave her corporate life behind to live “la dolce vita” in Florence, Italy, Read more about her experiences at An American In Italy or contact her at

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The Great Piazzas of Florence-Piazza Santa Croce

Guest Post By: Karen Mills

Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, ItalyPiazza Santa Croce, located a little distance away from most of the main tourist attractions, yet still within walking distance, was built during the Middle Ages, in the 13th-14th century.  It gets its name from the Franciscan Church located at the East side of the piazza which is one of the best examples of Florentine Gothic architecture in the city.  The piazza is a very large rectangular space and because it does not get shaded from the buildings is one of the warmest locations in Florence.  It is great in the winter, but can be blazing hot in the summer.  There are beautiful palaces along the sides, as well as vendors of leather and jewelry.

Tomb of Michelangelo, Florence ItalyThe Basilica of Santa Croce is one of my top sites to see in Florence, and although it is overshadowed by the Duomo, the church itself contains more interesting pieces of art as well as the tombs of some great Italians such as Michelangelo, Ghiberti, Galilio, and Machiavelli.  Because of these famous Italians along with many others, the church is sometimes called The Temple of the Italian Glories.   Artists on display in this Basilica are Brunelleschi, who created a domed chapel in the cloisters, Luca della Robbia, Taddeo Gaddi, and Cimabue.  Giotto painted several large frescoes within the 16 chapels. Much of the Basilica as well as the art within were damaged by the great flood of 1966, but it has been restored and replaced within the church.

The construction of the church began in 1294 and the basilica was consecrated in 1442.  A beautiful statue of Dante adorns the left side of the church.  The two famous historic palaces located in the piazza are Palazzo Cocchi-Serristori, which today is the headquarters of Quarter 1 in Florence, and Palazzo dell’Antella painted with a beautiful façade by Giovanni San Giovanni, painted in 1620.

Every year, the piazza hosts the Calcio Fiorentino, a historic event of football played out on the piazza.  This event occurs in June every year and sod is laid in the piazza and each Quartiere dons their uniforms to compete.  Because of the size of the piazza, many sporting events have taken place over the centuries in this Piazza.  This year’s calico matches will take place on June 18, 19, and 24th.

Off of Piazza Santa Croce, you will find the street via Torte which leads to via della Stinche and one of the best gelato shops in Florence, Vivoli.  Vivoli is closed on Monday, and one slight drawback is that they only sell gelato in cups, no cones.  Try the chocolate fondente with cocco, for a frozen “Mounds bar” like treat!

Streets of Florence, ItalyWhile on Piazza Santa Croce, you will find street vendors and entertainers, and for a bite to eat, try Boccadama.  Boccadama is opened 11-3 and 6:30-10:30.  There is outside dining in warm weather.  You will find traditional Tuscan fare at this hot spot in Florence.

There is a renowned leather school n the back of the basilica and a beautiful cloistered garden on the outside of the church.  Admission price to see the Basilica is only 5 euro.  I recommend the audio guide for an additional 5 euro to give you all the details that you need to understand the altars and the artwork. For more information on Florence sites, visit

Karen Mills is an American woman who made the decision to leave her corporate life behind to live “la dolce vita” in Florence, Italy, Read more about her experiences at An American In Italy or contact her at

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Florence Italy, Old World Charm

Old world charm, classic architecture, culture and style intertwined with the modern day await you in Florence, Italy. The place where the Italian Renaissance was born, Florence is truly one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

When planning a trip to this great, historical city there are so many things to see that it is hard to know where to start but there are a few sights that are well worth adding to your itinerary.While you are checking out these top places, think about your accommodations in Florence, plenty of boutique hotels, hostels as well as apartments in Florence will help make your stay enjoyable.

Michelangelo David, Florence ItalyOne of the most popular attractions in Florence is the masterpiece sculpture by Michelangelo of King David as he readies for his battle with the mighty Goliath. Sculpted in marble and unveiled in 1504, David is a magnificent figure, standing seventeen feet high. This amazing work of art is now on display at the Gallerie dell'Accademia.

Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore – The Duomo – is an iconic part of the Florence skyline. The exterior of the cathedral is crafted from white, red and green Tuscan marble and is a masterpiece of the Renaissance period, also the most visited place in Florence. Master craftsman Brunelleschi designed the distinctive dome for the cathedral, which was completed in 1436. Inside the Duomo are beautiful frescos by artist Giorgio Vasari, then after his death Federico Zuccari completed the work featuring the celebrated fresco, "The Last Judgment," as well as other beautiful works of art.

Works from the masters of Renaissance art are among the highlights of a visit to Florence and at the Galleria degli Uffizi or Uffizi Gallery, one of the best collections of Italian art, especially from the Renaissance period, can be viewed at this world renowned museum. Masterpieces from Michelangelo, Piero della Francesca, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli and many others are on display making this a must-see when visiting Florence.

The Ponte Vecchio Bridge, Florence ItalyNo vacation is complete without a bit of shopping to find that perfect souvenir to commemorate your visit. Ponte Vecchio in Florence is one of the most famous bridges in Italy. It was built as a replacement in 1345 for a bridge that was washed away by a flood. Ponte Vecchio was constructed with shops lining both sides of its expanse that overlook the Arno River. Since 1593 it has been the home of goldsmiths and jewelers offering a dazzling selection of watches and jewelry. Today, shoppers enjoy the opportunity to brush up on their bargaining skills with the merchants of Ponte Vecchio.

The above are some of the top attractions every visitor should not miss when in Florence.  Need a place to stay on your next adventure to Florence? Check out this list of reasonably priced Florence apartments. For more information on Florence and traveling through out the area, take a look at Beachcomber Pete travel guides on Italy

Other articles on Florence, Italy

Guest Post By: Karen Mills

Have you traveled to Florence? Visited other parts of Italy? Do you have any advice or recommendations for our readers?

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