Visiting Florence

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Visiting Florence Florence is an art lover's paradise. Birthplace of the Renaissance, Firenze today stands as tribute to the days of the Medicis and their trade and economical prowess, as well as their appreciation for the arts. If you're planning a visit to this fabled city allow yourself a bare minimum of three days to explore the main city sites. I spent a month in Florence and feel I barely scratched the city's surface. Don't miss: -Basillica Santa Maria del Fiore (Saint Mary of the Flowers, also simply known as Il Duomo). Admission to the main Cathedral is free. Other attractions at Santa Maria del Fiore: Buy one ticket for 10Euro and it lasts 24 hours. The ticket includes admission to five attractions: The Baptistry, the Campagnille (Bell Tower), Brunalleschi's Dome, Santa Reparata (the crypt inside of the main Cathedral) and the Opera Museum, where the original Gates of Paradise are housed. (NB: The Opera Museum is closed until October 2014 for renovations.) More information here: http://www.museumflorence.com/en   Photos: Il duomo and the Ceiling of the Baptistry. -Uffizi Gallery: If you're looking for Renaissance art the Uffizi will be your candy store. Home to more masterpieces than I can begin to list, the Uffizi is not to be missed! Buy tickets online at least two day in advance if you don't want to stand in line, or buy a Florence Card to skip the lines (see below) -Museo Palazzo Vecchio: The name of this place means simply, Museum of the Old Palace. Adjacent to the Uffizzi Gallery this sumptuous palace houses works by Michelangelo and Donatello. It was the seat of the Florentine government for more than 700 years and is a beautiful place to tour. -L'Academia: Current home to the original David Statue. This small museum is well worth a visit. Buy your tickets online at least two days in advance to prevent queuing for hours (I stood in line for 2.5 hours and that was before the line REALLY got long.) If you don't mind paying a bit extra and haven't booked in advance, buy tickets from the clipboard-carrying vendors standing outside of the entrances. You'll pay an extra 10Euro or so, but if you're short on time or patience this is a good option for you as you'll be handed a ticket and be able to directly inside. -Piazza Michelangelo: On the opposite side of the river from Santa Croce Cathedral, atop a hill, just past the city's beautiful rose gardens you'll find Piazza Michelangelo. This Piazza boasts the best view of Florence available. Any time you see a picture of the city of Florence it is shot from this piazza. While you're on this side of the city take a stroll through the rose gardens and visit my favorite church in Florence: Chiesa di San Salvatore a Monte. -Find all three Michelangelo statues, just for fun! … continue reading

An Errand in Florence

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An Errand in Florence While in Verona I began to make inquiries about finding a place to stay for a few nights in Florence. As I combed through Airbnb and TripAdvisor (per usual for me) I felt very strongly that my housing in Florence would be found via a different avenue, but I had no clue what that could be. I was a little bit … continue reading

In Fair Verona

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In Fair Verona In the North of Italy, not too far from Venice lies Verona, the fabled setting for Shakespeare's ill-fated lovers, Romeo and Juliet as well as two other Shakespear plays: Taming of the Shrew and Two Gentlemen of Verona. Often overlooked by tourists in favor of the larger, flashier Northern Italian cities (Milan and … continue reading

Villa Borghese

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The largest island in Lake Garda is actually a series of islands, both natural and man-made and atop it sits a beautiful Venetian-Neo Gothic Palazzo called Villa Borghese. The "island" has been inhabited since Roman times and it's occupants include Romans, Monks, Napoleon's regime and a slew of private aristocracy. Today the island … continue reading

Delightful Sirmione

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Delightful Sirmione Just a forty-minute bus ride from Verona, on a tiny peninsula jutting into Lake Garda lies one of the most perfectly, happily, delightfully situated cities I've ever visited. Guarded by a castle and a moat, to experience this city with it's graceful swans, gently lapping lake waters and happy holiday ambiance is … continue reading

Bergamo Highlights

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Bergamo Highlights Just an hour outside of Milan lies one of the area's three airports in a sleepy little city called Bergamo. Bergamo traces its roots back to Roman rule and boomed during Medieval times, when it was one of the most important strategic cities under Venice's rule. Because it was defensible and on the border of the … continue reading