Family Vacations to Florence, Italy
|With its romantic hues and graceful piazzas, Florence is a delightful city to stroll (Photodisc)|
- Climb 463 steps to the top of Il Duomo
- View works by Botticelli, Rembrandt, and Caravaggia at the Uffizi Gallery
- Admire Michelangelo's extraordinary sculpture David at the Academia Gallery
- Stroll the flower and fountain-filled Boboli Gardens
- Bargain for jewelry and other souvenirs on the Ponte Vecchio.
Florence (Firenze in Italian) delights the eye. A graceful city of red roofs, splendid domes, and bridges crossing the Arno River, Florence is an art lover's Mecca. With money from the Medicis and other rich ducal families, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Botticelli, and others created timeless works whose new perspective spurred the development of a renaissance. The city showcases these masterpieces in its churches and museums. That makes Florence a must-see for teens and adults, but something of a challenge for younger kids for whom one fresco goes a long, long way.
Hit the highlights first, allowing plenty of time in between museums to browse the shops and cool off with scoops of gelato. One of the most photographed spots in Florence is the dome of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, known as Il Duomo. Filippo Brunelleschi designed the massive dome atop one of the world's largest churches. The dome, constructed without supports, was an architectural feat in its day. Climbing the 463 spiraling steps to the top for a panoramic view is an aerobic workout. It's slightly less challenging to climb the 414 steps in the adjacent Campanile di Giotto (Giotto's Bell Tower). But from the tops of both structures, you'll get to savor well-deserved panoramas.
If you have time for only two museums, make it the Galleria degli Uffizi(Uffizi Gallery) for its exceptional collection of Renaissance art by Fra Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Rembrandt, Caravaggia, and others, plus the Galleria dell'Accademia (Academia Gallery) to view Michelangelo's extraordinarily lifelike sculpture David.
Works by Raphael and Titian hang in the museums of the Palazzo Pitti (Pitti Palace), but kids are likely to be more entranced by the Giardini di Boboli(Boboli Gardens) behind the palace, a space for romping that's laced with flowers and fountains, as well as the adjacent Giardino Bardini (Bardini Gardens).
To get more of a feel for the city, stroll its piazzas (plazas). Sculptures, including a copy of David, adorn the Piazza della Signoria, Florence's main square. Teens like browsing the Piazza Santa Croce because of the area's abundant leather shops. They'll also enjoy bargaining with the jewelry vendors lining the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge).
Tip: Avoid the long lines at the Uffizi and other attractions by reserving tickets ahead. Firenze Musei offers timed entrance to the Uffizi as does Select Italy, which also reserves entrance to the Boboli Gardens and other attractions.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication