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Top 10 Things to Do in Florence, Italy

Updated on May 05, 2016
bdegiulio profile image

Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures, experiences, and makes the world a better, more tolerant place.

The Duomo

Duomo of Florence
Duomo of Florence | Source

No trip to Italy is complete without a visit to Florence, the capital of the Italian region of Tuscany. Considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is famous for its art, architecture, and cultural heritage. Although there is certainly much more to see in Florence above and beyond the ten sights I have included here, this list is a great start for the first time visitor.

No matter what you decide to see on your visit to Florence, it is sure to be one of the more memorable experiences that you will have on your trip to Italy. Florence is very walkable and visitor friendly and it's possible to see the entire city on foot without using public transportation.

I am a product of my native land, Tuscany, Italy.

— Andrea Bocelli

The Uffizi

The Uffizi
The Uffizi | Source

Visit the Uffizi

One of the premier museums in the world, the Uffizi, is a must see on your visit to Florence. The Galleria degli Uffizi holds the most important collection of Renaissance art in the world including thousands of paintings, sculptures, and tapestries.

To avoid the long lines buy your tickets ahead of time or plan your visit for late afternoon when the crowds are apt to be a little smaller. Plan on spending a minimum of two to three hours in the Uffizi and certainly longer if you are a true connoisseur of fine art.

The Uffizi was established in 1581 and accommodates over two million visitors each year. The museum contains 45 rooms of artwork and literally thousands of individual pieces including works by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Caravaggio.

The Duomo
The Duomo | Source

The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

As you walk around Florence it's hard to miss the famous Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, otherwise known as the Duomo. Begun in 1296, the structure was not completed until 140 years later in1436. The beautiful exterior of the cathedral is made of green, white and pink marble and dominates the historic center of Florence.

If you can get to the Duomo early you can get on the first guided tour of the day, which I highly recommend. The tour, which lasts about an hour is informative, takes you places not accessible to the average tourist, gets you access to the rooftop terrace and then on to the top of the Duomo for amazing views of Florence.

The Duomo complex also includes The Baptistery and The Campanile (Bell Tower). The Baptistery is actually a few hundred years older than the Duomo and dates back to the 11th century. Named for John the Baptist, the building is also made of green and white marble.

The entire complex, which includes the Cathedral, the Bell Tower, and the Baptistery, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982.

The Duomo

The Duomo of Florence
The Duomo of Florence | Source

Climb the Duomo

Climbing to the top of the Duomo, while admittedly not for everyone, was another one of those must do things on my list. Hey, your already here so you might as well climb the 463 steps to the top. We did this as part of the tour that was offered through the Basilica, which I highly recommend. The views of Florence from the rooftop terrace were great, but from the top of the Duomo we’re talking spectacular. You have an unobstructured 360 degree view of Florence and the city is even more beautiful from this vantage point.

The View from the Top of The Duomo

The view
The view | Source

Chill out in Piazza della Signoria

The most famous square in Florence is undoubtedly the Piazza della Signoria. It contains many important statues including a replica of Michelangelo’s David and the Fountain of Neptune.

The town hall of Florence, the Palazzo Vecchio, is also located here in Piazza della Signoria. This piazza is a great place to just sit and people watch so grab a seat on the wall of the Loggia dei Lanzi and take it all in. I highly recommend you grab a gelato first. And to avoid a scolding by the local police please keep your shoes on! We were actually asked by the police to put our shoes back on after we took them off to relax for a few minutes. Go figure!

Statue of Neptune
Statue of Neptune | Source

David

Michelagelo's Statue of David
Michelagelo's Statue of David | Source

Visit the Accademia

Home to Michelangelo’s famous statue of David, the Galleria dell’ Accademia should not be missed.

The Accademia is home to many other important paintings and sculptures, and this museum also has a rather interesting collection of musical instruments that was begun by the Medici family.

While I did not think that I would be overly impressed by the statue of David I must admit that I was very wrong. It is much larger than I anticipated and the detail on this sculpture it is truly unbelievable.

Be sure to get your tickets to the Accademia before hand as the lines can be very long depending on the time and day of your visit.

Shop

If you’re in the market for leather goods then welcome to Florence. The most famous market for shopping is the Piazza San Lorenzo where you will find an abundance of leather goods and virtually anything else you might be shopping for from the numerous vendors.

Shopping
Shopping | Source

Ponte Vecchio

This century’s old bridge is the most famous of Florence’s six bridges that span the Arno River and dates back to Roman times. Today, the bridge is a hub of shopping with jewelry, art and souvenir vendors lining the bridge. Spend some time just strolling around and over the bridge and be sure to take numerous photos of this famous and historic site.

Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio | Source

Visit the Boboli gardens

Located on a hillside across the Ponte Vecchio and behind the Pitti Palace is the huge Boboli Garden Park. The gardens were laid out in the mid 16th century and have been enlarged and restructured numerous times since. The gardens today cover 11 acres and offer excellent views of Florence. If you enjoy beautiful gardens, sculptures and fountains then plan on spending a few hours strolling through the park.

Boboli Gardens

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Basilica of Santa Croce
Basilica of Santa Croce | Source

Visit the Basilica di Santa Croce

The Basilica of Santa Croce is the largest Francision Church in Italy and is located in Piazza Santa Croce. The church contains the tombs of many famous Florentines including Michelangelo and Dante. The church also contains sixteen chapels, many of them beautifully decorated with frescoes.

While the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore gets most of the attention in Florence this Basilica is not to be missed if you have time.

Basilica di Santa Croce
Basilica di Santa Croce | Source

Piazzale Michelangelo

For the best views of Florence make the hike or hop on the bus and head for the Piazzale Michelangelo. This famous square with its stunning view of Florence is located across the Arno River and up the hill.

The square, dedicated to the great Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo, contains copies of some of his works including his most famous sculpture of David. For a spectacular nighttime panoramic view of the city of Florence and The Duomo make a visit at night.

Source
Source

Florence has so much to offer visitors to this beautiful Tuscan city. The historic center of Florence is very walkable and is very accessible via Italy's train system and the nearby airport, which is located just fifteen minutes from the city center. If you are planning an Italian holiday be sure to include a visit to Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance.

Ciao for now.

show route and directions
A markerThe Duomo, Florence -
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B markerPonte Vecchio, Florence -
get directions

C markerBasilica Santa Croce -
get directions

D markerBoboli Gardens -
get directions

E markerPiazzale Michelangelo -
get directions

G markerGallerie dell'Accademia -
get directions

H markerPiazza Della Signoria -
get directions

© 2012 Bill De Giulio

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    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 19 months ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Anne. Florence certainly is amazing. We would love to go back but there are so many amazing places yet to be discovered. Such is the dilemma when you get the travel bug.

    • Anne Harrison profile image

      Anne Harrison 19 months ago from Australia

      Congratualtiosn on HOTD, and thanks for the memories. Florence is such an amazing place, and never enough time...

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 19 months ago from Massachusetts

      Thank you everyone. I have been on the road the last few days without access to Internet and did not even realize until just now, 4am in the morning, that this hub was selected for the HOTD. Florence was a magical place to visit and I have nothing but great memories of our time there. My thanks to everyone for taking the time to stop by and comment.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 19 months ago from North Texas

      Great photos and you've clearly put a lot of work into this excellent article packed with information. Congratulations on HOTD!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 19 months ago from southern USA

      Congrats on HOTD! I hope to visit Italy one day, and I will make a point of visiting Florence. Such an amazing city and your hub is full of wonderful and useful information. I love that the city is walkable! Your photos are beautiful. I love ancient architecture, so romantic too.

      Thank you for taking us along on your visit to Florence.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 19 months ago from Orlando, FL

      Congrats on HOTD, Bill. My daughter and SIL would agree that Florence, Italy is a fabulous place to visit. When I hear of Florence, I think of Sandra Bullock in the movie, While You Were Sleeping...her dream was to visit Florence, I will not tell you if she did or not, just in case you haven't watched the movie :)

    • sparkleyfinger profile image

      Lynsey Harte 19 months ago from Glasgow

      Great hub, congratulations on HOTD! I have always wanted to visit Florence, and that area of Italy, even though I didn't realise there was so much to do. I definitely think this is a location I will be considering for future holidays.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 19 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Excellent hub, Bill! Congrats on HOTD! I'll pass this info to my brother, since he'll be touring Florence around X-mas time this year.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 19 months ago from USA

      What a wonderful hub! Well deserved and congratulations on HOTD!

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thank you Waqas. Italy certainly is wonderful. It has something for everyone. Welcome to hubpages and thanks for stopping by.

    • waqas816 profile image

      Waqas Ahmad 2 years ago from Lahore, Pakistan

      Italy is like a country that brings you the life of great kings of Rome and the several historical landscapes. Monuments and everything. I dreams about travelling here. just can see only in pics :)

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi gferrini. Glad you enjoyed Florence. What a wonderful City :)

    • profile image

      gferrini 3 years ago

      Last week I made this beautiful tour:

      http://www.florenceinferno.com/guided-tour/

      My top places are Boboli Gardens and Palazzo Vecchio's Secret Passages...

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi there tastiger04. It certainly is beautiful, hopefully you get there someday soon. Thanks for the visit and welcome to HubPages.

    • tastiger04 profile image

      tastiger04 3 years ago

      Interesting hub, Italy looks beautiful....i plan on making it there someday! voted up :)

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi roc6. You are very correct, Saint Croce is amazing and a fitting place for the tomb of Michaelangelo. Thanks so much for visiting and taking the time to comment. Have a great day.

    • roc6 profile image

      roc6 3 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Another good thing is Michaelangelo's tomb to visit at Basilica Saint Croce in Florence, amazing detail on tomb, wonderful energy.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi ElleBee. Florence really is one of our favorite places. Very walkable, beautiful at night, wonderful architecture and museums. What's not to love? Thanks so much for the visit. Have a great day.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi idevices. It certainly is! Thanks so much for stopping by to visit Florence. We really loved Florence, one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

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      ElleBee 3 years ago

      Didn't make it to the Boboli Gardens, but I did all the rest of these things! Such a beautiful city. I think one of my favorite evenings in Florence was listening to an Opera Singer in one of the piazzas (don't remember exactly which one - I believe Piazza della Signiora, but I know it was the one with the carousel in it!) Its nice to find good,free fun like that when you're a world away.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Toytasting. Thank you. Florence is beautiful. Hope you get there soon. Thanks for visiting with me.

    • Toytasting profile image

      Toy Tasting 3 years ago from Mumbai

      Hey bdegiulio, This is a wonderful Hub with some really beautiful pictures. Florence is surely on my destinations to visit list. Thank you for sharing this!

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Me too :)

    • Solaras profile image

      Solaras 3 years ago

      Excellent - I can't wait to return to Florence. So glad I rubbed his snout!

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Grace. Add Florence to your list, it's beautiful. Welcome to HubPages and thank you for the visit.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Solaras. You remember well. I have photos of the bronze boar with us rubbing its snout. Supposed to bring you good luck and ensure a return to Florence. Thanks for the visit and comments

    • Grace-Wolf-30 profile image

      Grace-Wolf-30 3 years ago from England

      Love Italy, but I've never been to Florence. Thank you for sharing this great hub : )

    • Solaras profile image

      Solaras 3 years ago

      I went to Florence on my first honeymoon. Thanks for the trip down memory lane; lovely photographs! Voted thumbs up and interesting. It seems there was a bronze boar there too in one of the squares with magical powers that needs rubbing or something to make you rich. I can't quite recall it.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi artdivision. I sure not much has changed in 15 years. Still beautiful. Thanks for stopping by.

    • artdivision profile image

      Art Division 3 years ago from London

      Florence! Last went there in Christmas 1998!

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Wow. That's beyond lucky. I would love to go to Greece and Egypt someday.

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

      How lucky would you say he was if I told you that the trip also included Greece and Egypt? Darn brother of mine! :-D

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Thief12. Thanks for the visit. I see you are fairly new to HP's so welcome. Your brother was one lucky guy to win a trip to Italy. Hopefully someday you'll have the opportunity? Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

      One of my brothers won a trip to Italy (Florence, Rome, Venice) when he was a teen (I was a kid) and I remember reading a lot of books about where he was. The Basilica, the Boboli Gardens, and the Ponte Vecchio... he went to all those places and said it was really cool. Beautiful hub as well.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      It sure is. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Have a great day.

    • Web World Watcher profile image

      Web World Watcher 3 years ago

      Highly recommend! It's a rare gem of a country!

      http://www.mapquest.com/maps?country=IT

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Mel. You will love Florence, it is amazing. Add it to your list and make sure it's near the top.

      Thanks for stopping by to read and comment.

    • melbel profile image

      Melanie 4 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

      Wow! So beautiful! I'm definitely enthralled with Florence now! I sooo can't wait to go!

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Cassy. As you probably have discovered by now I definitely have a thing for Italy. I'm envious that you got to live there for 3 years. I'll have to stop by and read your Florence Hub.

      Now that you know Italy well you can pick and choose where you want to go when you return.

      Thank you for the vote and share.

    • CassyLu1981 profile image

      CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      AMAZING!!! I did a hub on Florence as well (lived in Italy for three years, it's good to see we have Italy in common). Love all your pictures! You went to more amazing sights then I did. Wish we would have had more time. Now I definitely want to go back!!! Voted up and shared!

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Dan. Glad you enjoyed it. Lucky you, heading off to Florence shortly. You will love Florence, it is one of the great cities in the world, full of history, art and beauty. Good luck getting to all the sites and have a wonderful trip. Bill

    • Daniel_Benson profile image

      Daniel_Benson 4 years ago from London

      What a brilliant hub! This informative guide has really whetted my appetite, prior to my trip to Florence next week. I intend to visit all ten of your suggested location. Thanks once again!

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Heather. It took us two trips to get there but it's worth the effort. Florence is wonderful. If you enjoyed other areas of Italy then you will love Florence. Thanks for reading and have a great day.

    • Heather Jacobs profile image

      Heather Jacobs 4 years ago

      Great article and with so many beautiful pictures! I've been to Italy twice and missed Florence both times. :( Maybe third times the charm...

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi there Prasetio. Thanks for visiting Florence with me. Hopefully you'll get there someday? Appreciate you reading and the nice comments, vote and sharing.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Sandra. I would love to return to Florence someday as we really miss it also. We loved just sitting in the Piazza della Signoria and watching the people come and go, just a great spot. Thanks for reading. Have a great day.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi there Gypsy Rose Lee. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. Hopefully you'll get there someday soon. Have a great day.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi roc6. Glad it brought back great memories. It does the same for me every time I read it and look at the photos. The Uffizi was great as well as the Accademia. I think climbing the Duomo might have been the highlight. Appreciate the comments.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      @ angela. Thank you for reading and the nice comments. It certainly is breathtaking.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      @ brenda. Enjoy your trip to Europe. Italy is not going anywhere so it'll be there when you are ready and able. Have a great trip and thanks for reading.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      @ Peggy. Thank you for the wonderful comments. You should accompany your husband on one of his trips to Italy and sneak off to Florence. It really is a beautiful city and very walkable. Thanks again.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Wonderful hub. I wish I can go to Florence one day. I really enjoy all information about many things to do in this city. All the pictures are awesome and beautiful. Thanks for writing. Voted up and shared :-)

      Prasetio

    • sandrabusby profile image

      Sandra Busby 4 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

      Very beautiful and comprehensive hub about Florence. Always makes me homesick for a very beautiful apartment I rented there once on the Piazza della Signoria.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and awesome. You make me want to go like right away. Thanks for the tour and the pictures are fantastic. Passing this on.

    • roc6 profile image

      roc6 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      One of my favorite places Florence thank you, brought back memories, I loved the market with the statue of a pig. I still got to do the Uffizi gallery such a long wait, great you put a link for tickets.

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 4 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      This is just breathtaking! I will share this!

    • brenda12lynette profile image

      brenda12lynette 4 years ago from Utah

      I want to visit Italy now! I'm going to Europe for the first time this summer, but I will be in eastern part of the country. Maybe next time!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Bill,

      Your photos and descriptions of Florence are truly beautiful! This should be a Hub of the Day! I would love to see this in person someday. My husband has been to the Valtellina, Desenzano and also Milan in Italy but not Florence. I wrote hubs about those trips of his. Sending this to him as he gets over there on a semi-regular basis now that he is in the wine brokering business. Voted up, useful, beautiful and SHARING.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thank You trendytripping. Welcome to HubPages. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment.

    • trendytripping profile image

      trendytripping 4 years ago from United states

      Thanks for sharing such a valuable information for Florence.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Victoria. Ditto for me, one of my favorite cities in the world. Just beautiful. Thanks for visiting. Have a great day. Bill

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      victoriabryan 4 years ago

      What a great hub. I was in Florence 7 years ago. One of my favorite cities in the world!

      Absolutely beautiful.

    • vox vocis profile image

      Jasmine 4 years ago

      We hope to stay there a little longer so hopefully we'll have enough time to check out every little corner :) My favorite Italian writer, Dante Alighieri, loved Florence but had to die in exile (in Ravenna). I'm sure there are interesting museums telling stories about Italian literature, too.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      We really loved Florence. It's a great walking city and just so amazing. Make sure you climb the Duomo for an unbelievable view of Florence.

    • vox vocis profile image

      Jasmine 4 years ago

      Oh, boy! My husband and I have been looking at the photos together - Florence is amazing! We plan to go there next year. Being home-sick is not easy, but the thrill of visiting places in Italy again is greater than ever!

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi MelChi. Thank you for the nice comments. Hopefully you'll get there someday soon. It really is amazing. In fact most of Italy is amazing. Make a plan and follow through and before you know it you'll be on top of the Duomo gazing out over Florence. Hopefully we'll be reading about your trip to Italy someday soon. Best of luck. Thanks again. Bill

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      Melanie Chisnall 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      bdegiulio, my heart took a leap when I saw your photos and read your hub. I need to make a plan to make the dream of seeing Italy - especially Florence, a reality! Thanks for sharing :)

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Joe. Florence is just wonderful. We would go back in a heartbeat. Appreciate the comments.

    • Joseph Hollick profile image

      Joseph Hollick 4 years ago from Hamilton, ON Canada

      Another great Hub!!

      It brought back memoires when I was there in 2010!

      We also visited Basilica di Santa Croce and really enjoyed seeing the tombs of all the famous artists from centuries ago!

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Carter06. Taking pictures is another one of my passions so my camera goes pretty much everywhere with me.

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      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Oh and forgot to say your photos are excellent especially the rooftops, it's so good I wish I could frame it, you must have a good camera?

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thank You Jennie. Florence is certainly a beautiful place and worth a visit if you are in Italy. Thanks for stopping by.

    • JennieDavila54 profile image

      JennieDavila54 4 years ago from Texas

      Very nice pictures of florence. Next time we return to Italy we must visit florence. Thanks for sharing.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      It certainly has earned it's place as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We also long to return.

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 5 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Thank you for this beautiful hub, I visited this wonderful city early last year and long to go back now and see some of these beautiful sites, my memories are tweaked every time I wear my leather jacket! Voted up - Cheers

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