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Birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is without doubt one of the greatest cultural cities in Europe. Beautiful paintings by da Vinci, Botticelli and others too innumerable to name check, plus Michelangelo’s David and Giotto’s frescoes - the list of artistic gems is almost endless. It is also a city famous for its operas, its classical music and its contemporary art. However, Florence has a great deal more to offer than simply its cultural scene. It is a vibrant, lively city very much at home in the 21st century - with a whole wealth of cool nightlife and great places to eat and drink. It is a strikingly beautiful place, is home to hundreds of historical sites and excellent shops, and if that is not enough to recommend it, it is also within easy reach of the stunning Chianti countryside.

Florence is particularly wonderful in the springtime – with mild temperatures, outdoor eating and a packed programme of open air concerts and other arts events making it one of the most popular weekend break destinations in Europe. Of course, this inevitably means that this is the busiest time of year in the city, so it is as well to book well flights and accommodation well in advance to ensure that you don’t miss out.

Most of the low cost airlines offer well priced flights to Florence. The airport (Amerigo Vespucci) is located very close to the city centre, which can be reached either by taxi, bus or train. Be aware that some flights go into Pisa (Galileo Galilei) which is around an hour outside of the city.

Florence is an excellent walking city. The majority of key sights, shops, hotels and restaurants are all within an area that is easily covered in around twenty five minutes by foot in any direction. However the city offers a good public transport network via the diminutive electric buses that criss-cross the city should you not wish to walk for any reason. Florence launched a combined museum pass - the Firenze Card – in 2011. This gives the holder free admission to almost all the galleries and museums, and includes access to the fast-track queues.

If you have time, head out for a stroll in the nearby countryside. A walk across the Ponte Vecchio, along the Costa San Giorgio and along to the stunning Forte di Belvedere will give the visitor a real sense of the proximity of the city to stunning rural scenery. Continuing in a southerly direction, you will come across verdant gardens, lush olive groves and orchards heavy with fruit. It is not hard to see why the artists of long ago were inspired to capture this incomparably beautiful landscape on canvas.

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