Italy, Part III: Florence

Aside from the dozens of gelaterias and boutiques which line the sun-soaked streets swarming with international tourists, gawping at the sheer pulchritude and fascination of the cultural and historical brilliance surrounding them, Florence is a time-capsule of Romanesque, medieval and Renaissance treasures.

Florence's rich heritage is ubiquitous, and signs of one of Europe's most influential families, the Medici's, are far and wide. Avid art aficionados, the Medici's vision to liberate Florence as the democratic, visionary and autonomous heart of Italy is evident across the city's grandest architecture and art collections.

With such a high concentration of galleries, museums, monuments, and, of course, churches, it's impossible to get the most out of Florence in one afternoon, because there's simply so much to do and see (not to mention eat and buy - Florence is the home of world famous leather, after all) a few hours just doesn't suffice.
View of the Ponte Vecchio and the Arno river from the second floor of the Uffizi Gallery.
(Left) The Rape of Polyxena. (Right) Perseus with the head of Medusa, Benvenuto Cellini.
Menelaus supporting the body of Patroclus.
Hercules and the Centaur Nessus.
As far as sculpture galleries go, Loggia dei Lanza is as illustrious as they get. Adjoining the Uffizi Gallery, neighbouring the Palazzo Vecchio, and overlooking the Piazza della Signoria, the building showcases some unique Renaissance sculptures including the Medici lions. (Above pictured) The Rape of Polyxena in front of the Uffixi Gallery.
The Uffizi Gallery is home to some of the world's most revered pieces of art, and boasts an enormous collection of priceless Renaissance works by artists such as da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Botticelli, as well as Caravaggio, Titian and Rembrandt. Dating back to the 16th century, the Uffizi was one of the first 'modern' museums and is the most visited gallery in all of Italy.
Statue of Leonardo da Vinci outside in the Uffizi Gallery.

The Birth of Venus, Botticelli (c. 1486)
Self-Portrait, Raphael (c. 1506)
Bacchus, Caravaggio (c. 1595)

The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Flower) otherwise known as Il Duomo di Firenze, otherwise known as the Florence Cathedral, is an astonishingly beautiful Gothic basilica constructed in white, green and pink marble between the late 13th and early 15th centuries. An architectural masterpiece.

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