Italy 2015 Parte Quattro - Florence

Often recognised as the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence needs no introduction to all art and architecture lovers. Not surprisingly, it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts millions of visitors each year and once ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt. You name it, they have it. From the finest in Renaissance art to the most imposing Gothic architecture of the Florence Cathedral, there is no reason why you should skip this magnificent city in any Italian holiday.

The iconic Florence Cathedral (Duomo di Firenze) revealing itself along the beautiful Florentine streets.

The Giotto’s Campanile. The free-standing campanile (bell tower) is one of the showpieces of Florentine Gothic architecture.

 Horse carriage rides are available around the cathedral complex for a fee.

The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers), commonly called the Florence Cathedral or Duomo di Firenze. Completed in 1436.

The exterior of the cathedral is cladded with polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink, bordered by white and has an elaborate 19th century Gothic Revival façade.

 Shops along the perimeter of the Duomo in the evening.

Beer, Food and Music... Several restaurants and bars surround the Duomo and offer a fantastic view of the cathedral.

Having my litre of beer while admiring the beautiful architecture with Italian music playing in the background.

Interior of the 45m wide dome with painting of The Last Judgement, a 3,600m² of ceiling fresco which started in 1568 by Giorgio Vasari and completed in 1579 by Federico Zuccari.

 Street parade in Florence.

 Classic Fiat 500 on the streets of Florence.

The impressive and majestic dome of the Duomo di Firenze dwarfing everything around. Quite impossible to miss along the streets.

 The finest in luxury Italian goods.

 Duomo di Firenze in the morning.

No visit to Florence would be complete without experiencing the vast collection of Uffizi Gallery which houses some of the most important works of the Renaissance.

'The Birth of Venus' by Sandro Botticelli, perhaps Uffizi’s most famous work. Those who use Adobe Illustrator will find the lady in the middle familiar.

There's always a crowd surrounding Venus.

The 'Annunciation' is one of about 16 paintings in Uffizi from perhaps the world’s most famous artist of all time - Leonardo da Vinci.

A bird's eye view of Ponte Vecchio from the windows of Uffizi corridor.

Michelangelo's depiction of the 'Doni Tondo' (Italian for ‘holy family’).

The monumental 'Laocoon Group', also called 'Laocoon and His Sons', by Baccio Bandinelli.

The best and most famous of Titian’s nudes, the 'Venus of Urbino'.

A panoramic view of the Arno River from Ponte Vecchio.

Close-up on the beautiful hues and details of Ponte Vecchio.

Charming shops along Ponte Vecchio.

The shopping street on Ponte Vecchio.

Another must-visit gallery in Florence - The Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze (Gallery of the Academy of Florence). Be prepared for a long queue. Get your tickets on-line before visiting.

Well, the reason for the long queue - Michelangelo's sculpture 'David'. Probably one of the world's most recognisable statue.

The Galleria dell'Accademia has housed the original 'David' by Michelangelo since 1873. Yes, there is a replica outside the Palazzo Vecchio.

Getting a closer look at Mr. David.

It's a huge marble statue that stands 5.17m tall.

The Giotto’s Campanile of the Duomo di Firenze seen from the streets.

The Santa Maria Novella, the first great basilica in Florence, consecrated in 1420.

Should you feel an overdose of history, art, piazzas and archittetura, there is always Prada to balance your Firenze experience. Take a train to Montevarchi and (try to) take a cab to the Prada Space outlet. It seemed no taxi exists in this town.

If you are lucky to get to the Prada outlet by whichever means, any means is worth it.

Speeding off from the beautiful Renaissance city and heading towards the Italian capital on the Frecciarossa.

To be continued in Part 5...

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