Some of the greatest Italian Renaissance achievements unfolded in Florence - which is why large swathes of the Tuscan capital seem more like an open museum than a lived-in city. Tourists cross oceans to visit Florence’s stunning museums, like the Uffizi, home to iconic works by Botticelli; or the Academia, where Michelangelo’s proud statue of David is interned.
They also come to observe Florence's urban fabric: medieval streets; feats of chance engineering like the shop-laden bridge, Ponte Vecchio; and masterpieces in Renaissance design like Brunellesci’s Duomo and the Church of Santa Croce. Still, there are pockets of Florence that are modern and lively and you can find them if you follow a Florentine peddling home on a typical oversized, antique bicycle.
The south bank of the River Arno has a lot of good restaurants and bars, and contains stunning attractions like the Pitti Palace and the famous hillside lookout, Piazzale Michelangelo, where tourists flock to snap panoramic photographs of Florence’s terracotta rooftops. But Florence is more than just museums and gilt gardens. The city is the base of many contemporary artists and designers like Salvatore Ferragamo, and home to hundreds of fine clothing boutiques and fine stationary shops, such as the world-renowned marbled paper artists Giulio Giannini & Figlio.