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Santa Maria del Fiore, or Duomo, Florence

I think this is the most magnificent structure in Europe. Every time I return to Florence and lay fresh eyes upon this colorful, patterned exterior, I’m struck by its beauty. The original 6th-century church that stood on this site was deemed inappropriate in the 13th century, the same time that new cathedrals sprung up in […]

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North doors

Baptistery of San Giovanni, Florence

This is the oldest building in Florence. It served as the city’s first cathedral as early as 9th century AD. The interior’s ancient granite columns are believed to have come from the city’s old Roman capitol and the pavement mosaic likely belonged to an old Roman bakery. The exterior was embellished in the 11th century […]

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Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

The Florentine Renaissance is on display inside this 13th-century palace. Sculptures by Michelangelo and his followers and works by Donatello are the most impressive pieces. Since Florence is surrounded by quarries, throughout the years artists have developed incomparable stonecutting skills. The massive applied arts and fine arts collection showcases enamels, silverware, jewelry and artwork. The […]

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Florence's most famous bridge

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

The Ponte Vecchio is one of Florence’s most recognizable landmarks. The original wooden bridge dated from the Etruscan and Roman times and was the city’s only bridge until the 13th century. It was destroyed in a flood; what we see today dates from the 14th century. A concealed passageway runs over the arcades that allowed […]

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Basilica di San Croce, Florence

This neo-Gothic structure is the Franciscans’ principal church and is the largest Franciscan church in the world. Built in the 13th century, it replaced an older church that the congregation had outgrown. The walls and floors contain monuments to 270 notable Italians and tombs of some, including Michelangelo and Machiavelli. 16 chapels are adorned with […]

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Mannina, Florence

This family-run business is one of Florence’s best shoe stores. Every pair is hand-crafted in the workshop, which is a few doors down and around the corner from the shop. My husband bought two styles and liked a third, but they didn’t have his size. No worries – the owner offered to make him a […]

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Santa Maria Novella-2

Santa Maria Novello, Florence

This 13th-century church was one of the first Florentine basilicas. It was constructed by the Dominican order to replace a 9th-century oratory dedicated to Santa Maria delle Vigne (hence the “Novello”). The old church was gifted to the Dominicans upon their arrival in Florence, but was deemed too small. The new one was designed with […]

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Giambologna's "Rape of the Sabine Women"

Loggia dei Lanzi or Loggia della Signoria, Florence

Loggia dei Lanzi was built in the 14th century as a dais for public ceremonies and political events. Today, it’s an open-air museum for sculptures and a great place to take a break and revisit over and over again.

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View over the city


Florence is one of my favorite places. It has many of my favorite criteria – it’s a walking city full of incredible art, excellent restaurants, colorful streets and pleasing architecture. Plus, there’s a great running route along the river. The downside is that everyone in the world also loves Florence, so the city is always […]

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