Florence, Italy - Cendrine Marrouat

Nicknamed the "Athens of the Middle Ages," Florence is the capital city of Tuscany and one of the most visited cities in the world.

Florence is not just known for being the home of the Medici family. It also boasts masterpieces like the Duomo, a cathedral whose dome and bell tower were engineered by Brunelleschi and Giotto respectively. You will find Michelangelo's "David" sculpture in Galleria dell'Accademia while the Uffizi Gallery features Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and da Vinci’s “Annunciation.” �

Florence originally was a Roman city and is considered the birthplace of Renaissance.

As a fan of Shakespeare's work, I pictured the city a certain way. It's the first time in my life that what I saw was exactly what I had envisioned in my head. It was surreal!

When visiting Florence, don't just stop at the Duomo. Make sure you spend a few hours at Piazza della Signoria, a 13th-century masterpiece.

There, you will find a replica of Michelangelo's "David"; the massive Fountain of Neptune, which symbolizes Florence as a naval power; Palazzo Vecchio (Florence's city hall); and a very fine collection of outdoor sculptures.

The L-shaped square was an important spot for events, like shows, tournaments, and executions. It also remains the political hub of the city to this day.

I have seen many squares in my life, but none has impressed me like Piazza della Signoria. It is one of my favorites, with Plaza de España, in Seville, Spain.

A view of Ponte Vecchio...

The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross)  is considered the largest Franciscan church in the world, its construction began in 1294.

The building was consecrated in 1442. The Basilica was built as an Egyptian cross and first used to house the graves of families living in the area. Then, the 15th century saw it become the resting place of a number of very famous Italians — Michelangelo, Leonardo Bruni, Julie Clary, Galileo Galilei, Niccolò Machiavelli, Gioachino Rossini, and Dante to name a few.

(Dante’s tomb is actually empty. The poet had been exiled for his political activities. His remains are buried in Ravenna and the city has refused to allow Florence to reclaim his body.)

The Basilica has an impressive façade and features work from major artists like Donatello, Giotto, Santi di Tito, Giorgio Vasari, and Domenico Veneziano.

Tomb of Gioachino Rossini (1792 – 1868), the opera composer who wrote "The Barber of Seville" and "William Tell."

Tomb of Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (1469 – 1527), Renaissance historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist, and writer. His most famous book is titled "The Prince."

Tomb of Vittorio Alfieri (18th-century poet and dramatist)

Tomb of Dante degli Alighieri (1265 – 1321), poet and author of "The Divine Comedy," one of the greatest literary works in history.

Tomb of Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475 – 1564), the Florentine sculptor, painter, architect, and poet also considered one of the greatest artists of all time.

Tomb of Giovanni Battista Niccolini (1782 – 1861), a poet and playwright of the Italian unification movement or Risorgimento.

Tomb of Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642), the astronomer, physicist, engineer, philosopher, and mathematician who played a major role in the scientific revolution of the 17th century.

The following people are also interred in the basilica: Julie Bonaparte (1771-1845), Vincenzo Galilei (1520-1591), Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455), and Vittorio Ghiberti (1418-1496). The memorial of Scientist, Inventor, and Engineer, Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) is there as well.

Florence, Italy

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