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12 Must-Do Experiences in Florence

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On the one hand, Florence is about iconic, world-class sights but on the other, it's about quirky, off-the-beaten-track experiences. The 'must-dos' in this Reniassance gem are made up of both and any visit should strike a good balance between the two. There's so much to see in Florence that in order to get the most out of the experience, you need to pace yourself carefuly and not take too much on.
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Piazza del Duomo, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
The cathedral, usually called the Duomo, is Florence’s most recognizable building. You are able to catch glimpses of its magnificent red-tiled cupola from just about anywhere in the city center. Construction on the church...
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Lungarno degli Archibusieri, 8/r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
There are few better places from which to enjoy river views and sunsets than the Ponte Vecchio, built in 1345. Spanning the Arno's narrowest point, this is the only bridge to have survived the German bombing of the city in 1944. There have always...
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Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy

I saw this exquisite chalk drawing of Leonardo da Vinci's Lady With An Ermine on the ground in one of the main plazas in Firenze. It started drizzling and I just had to take this photo before the rain washed it away!

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6 Lungarno Corsini, 50123 Florence FI, Italy
Escaping the crowds around Florence Cathedral one afternoon, I decided to wander along the Arno River and was rewarded with stunning views from the water's reflection. The picture highlights not only the clear, nearly symmetrical reflection cast...
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Via dei Servi, 66/68R, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Even with all the noted thinkers, artists, politicians, and powerful families who’ve called Florence home, Leonardo da Vinci is arguably the city’s most famous son. This homage focuses less on his artwork and more on Da Vinci’s forward-thinking...
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Get up early to avoid the crowds and catch some beautiful, soft light while experiencing a quiet Florence devoid of its midday chaos.
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Via della Scala, 16, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
This centuries-old "pharmaceutical workshop" gives visitors a chance to experience part of Florence's unique bespoke heritage. It was established by Dominican monks of the adjacent Santa Maria Novella church around 1221 and opened to the public in...
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Piazza Santo Spirito, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Walking through the Oltrarno neighborhood of Florence one night, I caught many glimpses of normal life for Florentines, from solitary people walking the dog to groups of young people crowded in restaurants, sharing laughs and evening drinks. No...
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Watching the sun set from one of the bridges that span the Arno in Florence seems to be a popular ritual with both tourists and Florentines. But it's the Ponte San Trinita that seems the bridge that attracts most.
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Via dei Tavolini, 19r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
On a cool night in November, walking alone from an outdoor food market in the center of Florence, I decided to indulge my sweet tooth yet again. I stopped for a "snack," one that I would never eat just before dinner back home yet couldn't get...
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Ponte Vecchio, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
One of the more unusual ways to see Florence is by taking a river cruise on a traditional wooden barchetto. These small boats (originally used to transport building materials) hold up to 12 passengers and ply up and down the stretch of the Arno...
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Piazza dei Rossi, 1R, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Tucked away in a tiny piazzetta just off the main Ponte Vecchio–Palazzo Pitti tourist drag, this bright, modern squeeze of a wine bar specializes in wines by small, lesser-known producers from all over Italy. Tempting snacks include fabulous...
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Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy
Food in Italy is still largely about seasonality, and never more so than in late fall when the new olive oil (‘olio nuovo’) begins to arrive in the shops. Take a drive into the Tuscan countryside anytime between late October and December and you...
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Piazza della Passera, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
A local favorite on postcard-pretty Piazza della Passera in the Oltrarno neighborhood, Il Magazzino serves up delicious Florentine food with a special emphasis on offal. If you are up for it, there’s no better place to sample stalwarts of...