Florence

Florence is synonymous with the Renaissance. It has more art museums packed into a kilometer of its north bank than anywhere else in Italy.

Major cultural highlights include Boticelli’s Birth of Venus, and works by Leonardo, Raphael, Carvaggio and Titian at the Uffizi gallery, the tombs of the Medici Palace, carved by Michelangelo, early maps, clocks, telescopes and pioneering devices at Galileo’s Science Museum and a pantheon of heavenly sculptures on show at the Bargello.

Then there are the colorful houses, the silver and gold shops crammed onto the ancient bridges crossing the Arno river. The boutiques and gelaterias of Oltrarno. The cupola of the Duomo cathedral and the sprawling flea market around the chapel of San Lorenzo.

For the best views of the fabulous skyline head up to the Piazzale Michelangelo, presided over by a looming statue of David, the immortal face of Florence.