Florence! The capital of Tuscany

Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the Metropolitan City of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 383,083 inhabitants, expanding to over 1,520,000 in the metropolitan area.
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Florence was a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the time. It is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called “the Athens of the Middle Ages”. A turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family, and numerous religious and republican revolutions. From 1865 to 1871 the city was the capital of the recently established Kingdom of Italy.
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Florence now is a living city with a vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene, and a lively cultural movida that goes beyond old masters to embrace opera, classical music and contemporary art. Handsome, historic, full of quirky shops and quality crafts, and close to the vine-covered hills of Chianti, it’s one of Europe’s most civilised long weekend destinations.
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Tourism is the most significant industry in central Florence. From April to October, tourists outnumber local population. Tickets to the Uffizi and Accademia museums are regularly sold out and large groups regularly fill the basilicas of Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella, both of which charge for entry. Tickets for The Uffizi and Accademia can be purchased online prior to visiting In 2010, readers of Travel + Leisure magazine ranked the city as their third favourite tourist destination. Studies by Euromonitor International have concluded that cultural and history-oriented tourism is generating significantly increased spending throughout Europe.
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If Florence often roasts in July and August, it can also get bitterly cold in winter – but if you don’t mind wrapping up, January and February are delightfully uncrowded months when you can often find serious accommodation bargains.
Try to resist the checklist impulse. Sure, Michelangelo’s David, the glorious Botticellis, Da Vincis and Caravaggios in the Uffizi, the Duomo with Brunelleschi’s remarkable cupola, photogenic civic spaces like Piazza della Signoria or Ponte Vecchio – these are all essential. But not on the same day. Leave time for a stroll around the laid-back Oltrarno quarter with its artisans’ workshops, a visit to the city’s bustling Mercato Centrale – and don’t, whatever you do, miss out on the trattorias, gelaterias and wine bars that make life here so dolce.
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Sources: wikipedia; telegraph.co.uk

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