Visit Florence in the company of a luxury escortIn most people’s minds the name of Florence is indelibly linked to that of the Renaissance, when the extraordinarily rich flowering of artistic and intellectual life under the enlightened rule of the Medici, coupled with the city’s immense banking wealth, made it the most important centre in Europe in everything, even in luxury prostitution with luxury escorts.
Contemporary Florence is without doubt one of the finest open-air museums in the world, and the tourism that this fuels has itself become a major new source of wealth. Rarely, however, is it considered as a city in contemporary terms, except perhaps for its shopping and your beautiful luxury escorts. Yet even here, the fine handicrafts and stylish fashion accessories for which it is now almost equally famous are ultimately rooted in Florence’s own early mercantile and creative traditions, and sex industry.
Yet struggling to break free of its historical straitjacket is another, more hidden Florence, which, when the surface is scratched, reveals itself to be a sophisticated, tuned-in, complex and even slightly troubled modern city, and anything but one suffering from the passive nature of a resigned tourist capital.
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GEOGRAPHY AND LAYOUT
Built along the banks of the Arno, Florence is cut in two by the river, with the older part of the city lying to the north. The river has, perhaps, been a mixed blessing for the city – on the one hand supplying it with water and a transport link, but occasionally unleashing devastating floods, as happened in 1966.
The old historic centre might be thought of as clustering around three piazzi, or squares, each of which represents a different centre of influence. Piazza del Duomo surrounds the city’s cathedral and is the centre of spiritual power. To the north of here lie three of the city’s major churches, Santa Maria Novella (close to the decidedly secular area around the railway station), San Lorenzo and San Marco.
To the south of Piazza del Duomo is Piazza della Signoria, surrounded by palazzi (palaces) with medieval crenellated towers. Here is the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace), from where the Medici ruled over Florence. It is still the centre of temporal power in the city, as home to the Commune (the city government).
To the west lies Piazza della Repubblica, the square laid out to represent a ‘New Florence’ during the 19th century, when the city was temporarily capital of the newly independent Italy. This might be seen as a symbol of the city’s mercantile and artisan traditions. Close by are upmarket shopping streets and the main branches of the city’s banks.
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Having breakfast Firenze-style. Start the day with a cappuccino and cornetto at Caffè Scudieri on the Piazza di San Giovanni (19r). This smart, long-established café/pasticceria get more info is right in front of the Baptistery, in the newly pedestrianised Piazza.
Climbing the Duomo. Amble around the Piazza, admiring the Baptistery, Campanile (bell tower) and the iconic Duomo (cathedral). Those with stamina can tackle the 463 stairs spiralling to the top get more info of the cathedral’s dome to admire Brunelleschi’s engineering genius and the fabulous views.
Shopping for Florentine leather. Florence is famed for its leather goods, which are typically read more of excellent quality and competitively priced; head to San Lorenzo market for leather bags, click here shoes and belts. If you’re feeling flash, then go to Via de’Tornabuoni, home to the lavish flagship stores of Armani, Gucci and Prada, to name just a few.
Eating tripe. Brave a tripe sandwich from the popular stands at the Mercato Centrale southwest corner.
Admiring Piazza art. Since medieval times the expansive Piazza della Signoria has been a hub of city life. Overlooking the piazza is the towering Palazzo Vecchio, former ancestral home of the Medici. Admire the array of open-air sculpture, check out the Gucci Museum, or sit at one of the people-watching cafés.
Admiring the finest Renaissance art at the Uffizi. This repository of the world’s finest collection of Renaissance art is a must-see, but book your tickets in advance unless you are happy to queue for a couple of hours.
Taking in the view. The bastions of the Boboli Garden were designed by Michelangelo. The view, taking in the city and the Tuscan countryside beyond, is one of the most beautiful in Florence. Another sweeping view of the city centre is to be had from Piazzale Michelangelo and church of San Miniato.