Florence transmits a multitude of emotions and sensations to all travelers: scents, flavors and works of art stimulate the senses step after step and remain engraved on the memory. Surrounded by lovely hills, Florence is an open air museum which houses some of the most precious treasures of Italy including the Cathedral with its splendid Dome designed by Brunelleschi, Giotto's Campanile, the Uffizi Gallery, and much, much more. But it is the hidden and lesser known Florence that will remain in your heart: the Florence of the tiny artisan workshops which hand down ancient techniques from generation to generation, the small churches and street markets, traditional “trattorias” and places off the beaten path.
Florence has a unique artistic heritage, a glorious testimony to its secular civilization. Cimabue and Giotto, the fathers of Italian painting, lived here, along with Arnolfo and Andrea Pisano, reformists of architecture and sculpture; Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio, founders of the Renaissance; Ghiberti and the Della Robbia dynasty; Filippo Lippi and Fra Angelico; Botticelli and Paolo Uccello; the universal geniuses Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo. Their works, along with those of many generations of artists up to the masters of the present century, are gathered in the city’s museums. Firenze Musei is a network of thirteen state museums in Florence (Accademia Gallery, Uffizi Gallery, Palatine Gallery, Silver Museum, Gallery of Modern Art and Costume Gallery, Medici Chapels, San Marco Museum, Bargello Museum, Cenacolo di Andrea del Sarto, Davanzati Museum, Boboli Gardens, Archaeological Museum, Museo dell’Opificio delle Pietre Dure) housing works of art from most of the collections of the Signori who ruled Florence (the Medici and the Lorraine families) as well as some works originally belonging to ecclesiastical bodies that fell into the hands of the State as a result of the 19th-century suppression of religious bodies.
Florence surroundings are equally enchanting and picturesque. The softly rolling hills of the Chianti which spread over the provinces of Florence, Siena, and Arezzo are full of charming small towns to explore. Pisa, with its worldwide famous Piazza dei Miracoli, and Siena, whose medieval centre has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site, are only 80 Km from Florence. Visitors from abroad will especially appreciate San Gimignano (60 Km from Florence), a small walled medieval hill town, mainly famous for its towers.