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By Emma Jones

Visitors were attracted to Florence's architectural and creative treasures for hundreds of years - and for sturdy cause. yet, with an historic middle of simply part a square-mile, it may be demanding to work out the points of interest during the crowds. The throng at the Duomo steps, the traces for the Uffizi and the jostling for images on Piazzale Michelangelo all require a very good dose of persistence. thankfully, early night deals a respite; the quieter streets and softer lights at the moment deliver out the colours of the marble-clad cathedral crowned by way of Filippo Brunelleschi's archetypal dome, the sheer immensity of the Palazzo Vecchio and the allure of the medieval Ponte Vecchio, with its outlets latched close for the evening. yet heading off the traces in case you input the constructions and museums takes a few practise. With too many points of interest to absorb on someday, discover Florence by means of zone with those 4 urban walks. the 1st takes you round the old middle, with visits to the non secular sights on...

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11. Pienza: Pope Pius II's ideal city built by Bernardo Rosellino to Alberti's theories. 12. Statue-stele: Stone idols from Lunigiana dating back over 4,000 years 13. Face to Fresco: A rare opportunity to get close up to the frescoes of Filippo Lippi. 14. The Torre Grossa: The best known of Tuscany's medieval towers for its not-to-be-missed views over San Gimignano and the Val d'Elsa. 15. Going Underground: A labyrinth of caves and tunnels hidden in the soft volcanic rock of the Etruscan Velzna.

Most Italians do not generally eat a dish from each course, usually opting for an antipasto then secondo with contorno, or primo then secondo with contorno. The Locales The traditional venue for dining is the ristoranto (restaurant), but cheaper and less formal meals (especially those derived from local specialties) are at a trattoria and osteria. Pizzerie, although specializing in pizzas, also offer a trattoria-like menu with dishes generally as good as their pizza range at a lower price. Cheaper still - although increasingly difficult to find in touristy areas - are rosticceria, which serve simple meals (generally roasted meats with a vegetable contorno) on a sit-down or take-out basis.

The Medici The rise of the Medici clan saw the beginning of an era of unrivalled beauty and splendor that shaped the glorious towns we see today - especially Florence. Many locals believe the city has yet to move on culturally from the Renaissance, which lives on in Florence's Duomo and the works of the giants of painting and sculpture from Michelangelo to Raphael. Under Cosimo I, the Medici become the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, which passed to the Austrian Dukes of Lorraine before being absorbed into the new Italian State.

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