Florence ItalyI had the following article written for me as I am always on the way to Florence but for some reason I have only passed it via train. Florence is 260 km from Lake Garda to the south. It should be around 2 hours drive each way, depending of course on your speed. I hope this article is of help for you while planning your trip around Northern Italy.
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The Duomo or Cathedral is the jewel of Florences architecture, with its magnificent dome, Campanile (bell tower) and Baptistery with its famous bronze Doors of Paradise. The octagonal dome of the Cathedral is still the largest brick and mortar-built dome in the world, even after 600 years.
The heart of Florence is the Fountain of Neptune, in the Piazza della Signoria. This marble sculpture stands at one end of the Roman aqueduct and was built by Bartolomeo Ammannati, taking over 10 years to complete. The Piazzo is also a popular outdoor sculpture gallery which can be enjoyed from one of the many cafés there.
The Bargello Museum is housed in a magnificent Gothic Palazzo. The greatest collection of Renaissance sculpture is on display here and includes Michelangelos Apollo and Pitti Tondo (Madonna and child). Donatellos David and Saint George are also housed here along with weaponry, frescoes, oriental rugs and 16th century porcelain.
For those who appreciate frescoes, the Church of Santa Croce is decorated throughout with 14th century murals, as well being the site for the tombs of Michelangelo, Rossini, Macchiavelli and Galileo. It seems almost unfair that one city should be home to so many famous sons!
Art historians will appreciate the Artists Academy, Galleria dell Accademia, which now showcases many of Michelangelos sculptures. The colorful marble façade of the Church of Santa Maria Novella dates back to the 13th century. The church itself is filled with a wealth of frescoes, crosses and paintings, each a work of art in its own right.
The best time to visit Florence is from May through early July when the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Festival takes place, with many open-air performances of music, opera and dance.
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