Category Archives: Florence

A Cultural Crash Course in Florence

View of Florence

Italy’s Florence, a city spoken about with sighs and wishful thinking the world over, is beautiful at any time of year, and provides a wide variety of amazing sights for visitors to take in. From stunning architecture and fashionable boutiques and markets, to top restaurants, cafes, and bars, and breathtaking scenery, there is much to admire in Florence. However, if you’d like a crash course in the city’s artistic heritage and cultural delights, you won’t have to look far either.

Whether you have been using a top travel credit card for months to earn enough points to tick this Italian marvel off your bucket list, or want to fit in some activities on your next business trip to the area, you will find many spaces where you can learn about art, history, literature, music and more. Read on for some of the best spots in the city to add to your itinerary.

Bargello National Museum

If you’re keen to see some of Italy’s best Tuscan Renaissance sculptures, make sure you pay a visit to the Bargello National Museum. Housed within a 13th-century building, the Bargello boasts an impression collection of pieces including some of the best early works of Michelangelo himself, like “Bacchus” and “Apollo.”

The impressive showcase of works starts with the museum’s entrance hall, where you’ll see numerous heraldic decorations on the walls with coats of arms from the 13th to 14th centuries. From there, the open courtyard features a variety of 16th-century statues created by Danti, Bandinelli, Ammannati and Giambologna; while the Hall and other rooms are home to works by Donatello, Pisano, Cellini, Sansovino and more.

The Bargello also showcases two famous panels: those created for a competition run in order to decide who would create the most prestigious commission in 1401, that of the decoration of the north doors of the baptistery in the Piazza del Duomo. One bronze door by Lorenzo Ghiberti (who was awarded the commission), and the other by Filippo Brunelleschi, sit side by side today.

Le Murate

Once the city’s prison, and before that a 15th-century nunnery, Le Murate today is a cultural hub for both local Florentines and visitors, and the perfect space to while away an afternoon or evening. This cafe/bar/artsy hangout certainly has an atmospheric location, being situated in the historic red-brick building (arranged around an inner courtyard) that has stood the test of time.

Better yet though, Le Murate is the place to enjoy live music events, film screenings, and a variety of art exhibitions. If you want to immerse yourself in local culture while having a bite to eat, this is the certainly a destination to put on your itinerary.

DanteOdes to Dante

Fans of Florence’s most famous poet, Dante, will not have to look far in the city to find reminders of the writer’s acclaim. The divine poet was born in Florence in 1265 and wrote many of his masterpieces here.

While visiting Florence, spend some time checking out the museum that is located on the site of his family home, and then take a guided tour. As well, head to the church of Santa Margherita dei Cerchi, in a little alley near his house, to see a monument to Beatrice Portinari, Dante’s muse and great love. It is said that the writer may have also married his actual wife, Gemma Donati, at the church too.

Basilica di Santo Spirito

Another cultural treasure trove in Florence is the Basilica di Santo Spirito (Basilica of the Holy Spirit), commonly referred to simply as Santo Spirito. This Brunelleschi church is a classic example of Renaissance architecture and has a grand interior, with 38 semi-circular chapels and a colonnade of Corinthian columns running around the nave and transept.

Apart from its design, the church also houses memorable artworks that you don’t want to miss. For example, within the basilica you will find Filippino Lippi’s “Madonna with Child and Saints” (created in the late 1400s) and Domenico di Zanobi’s “Madonna of the Relief” (1485). In addition, Santo Spirito is also the place to head in summer when many free, open-air classical concerts are held.

Piazzale MichelangeloMichelangelo

If you’d like to find a top spot to watch the sunset in Florence, you won’t have trouble coming up with options. A highly-recommended choice though is the Piazzale Michelangelo. If you can drag yourself away from the many souvenir stalls in this iconic square (where you can also see one of the two copies of the famous “David” sculpture found in Florence), you will have the chance to enjoy a breathtaking view of the city panorama.

Discover the largest shopping mall in America

Prussia Mall

The United States America is home to innumerable malls, big and small. When we can big we mean 2,000,000 square feet of gross leasable area. And guess what already 19 malls in the country feature on this impressive list. Topping the charts is the King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania. Others notable malls are the Mall of America in Bloomington Minnesota, Aventura Mall in Florida, South Coast Plaza and Del Amo Fashion Centre in California, Destiny USA in New York, Sawgrass Mills in Miami, The Galleria in Houston, Roosevelt Field along with Palisades Centre and Westfield Garden State Plaza are in New York. Chicago has Woodfield Mall and Oakbrook Center.

Discover the largest shopping mall in America – King of Prussia Mall

Shopping is no longer just a necessity, it is a favorite hobby of many and luxury goods sell too. People look for customized, unique, rare and convenient products and services. Providing answers to all these are the malls, with their array of product sellers and service providers. Interestingly the King of Prussia Mall is an iconic mall and is home to numerous luxury retailers. It is little outside Philadelphia, around 25 miles away. It serves Greater Philadelphia area – Delaware counties, Chester, and Montgomery. In fact it is quiet a famous shopping destination in the East Coast. Stats show that almost 20% to 25% in Philadelphia area have this on their itinerary. From Monday through to Saturday it opens from 10 in the morning to 9 at night. On Sundays it remains open from 11 in the morning till 6 in the evening.

Prussia MallEvery years millions visit different destinations in the USA. Many of these are there for business, while many others love holidaying in its many vacation spots. The diversity of natural beauty, food and culture attract people from overseas too. Shopping of course features as an important part of the trip. It is important to note that those visiting US temporarily from overseas and is foreign nationals need a tourist visa to gain entry. This is a legal requirement. Citizens of nations falling under the Visa Waiver Program are exceptions. These travelers simply need to apply for and check ESTA status before coming over by air or sea.

It was opened in 1963. The Kravco Co. had developed his landmark mall while Simon Property Group still manages it. Amazingly the mall is so big in area that some of the retailers have multiple stores here. There are five outlets for Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, three of Sunglass Hut Internationals and 2 each of Starbucks, Coach stores, GameStop, Victoria’s Secrets, General Nutrition Center, Bath & Body Works, AT&T, Teavana and H&Ms.

The most popular tourist attractions in Florence

Sunset over florence

I am a living witness to the fact that Florence has the most amazing restaurants, museums, shops, buildings and what have you, in Italy. The number of people who visit Florence every day surprised me. When I was on my flight to Florence, it was clear that most of the passengers were tourists and not residents. According to statistics, it is among the most visited cities in Italy.

The first activity you would want to do once you arrive in Florence is to dine. The first meal I was offered to try when I was in the city was the Florentine steak. This was at the Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco, that is located south of the river. It is divine! This is a meal you would not want to miss out on. It is on the menu of most Florentine restaurants.

FlorenceThe Renaissance art in this city is very intriguing. I personally visited the Uffizi Gallery, after a number of recommendations. Here, there are numerous displays of high quality paintings. I believe that this is the heart of Renaissance art in the world. It is almost impossible to view all the paintings due to their number and also the prevalence of tour groups. I would advise that you only visit the rooms that interest you the most. Also arrive at the museum either when they are opening or at lunchtime so that you escape the massive crowding.

You must also go on a wine tour. Wine tasting is becoming very popular among tourists in the city. A variety of organic wines are offered at Vivanda, an enotica opened in 2010. This destination is situated between piazza Santo Spirito and piazza del CarmineI. really enjoyed the originality of the wines that I got to taste. Over 120 wines from Italy and across the world are offered. There is also a kitchen that offers really good pastas and vegetables to go with the wine. You will also discover that all plates and the cutlery used here are biodegradable. I was more than happy with my trip to Vivanda.

ForenceMy favorite stop was the Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiore. This is a religious building but that is not all that there is to it. The architecture is gorgeous. Personally, I am not an artsy individual but the design of this building and the size was just stunning. If I could give it more than five stars I would. My trip to Florence was an experience of a lifetime. Its time to plan a trip to Florence if you have not been there before.