World ? Europe ? Italy ? Florence

Florence: Introduction

Mary McCarthy famously described Florence (Firenze) as a "City of Stone." This assessment digs deeper than merely the fact that the buildings, streets, doorjambs, sidewalks, windowsills, towers, and bridges are all cobbled together in shades of gray, stern rock hewn by generations of the stonecutters Michelangelo grew up with. Florence's stoniness is evident in both its countenance and its character. Florentines often seem more serious and slower to warm to strangers than other Italians. The city's fundamental rhythms are medieval, and it's fiendishly difficult to get beyond the touristy surface and see what really makes Florence tick. Although the historic center is compact, it takes time and effort to get to know it, get the hang of its alleys, and understand the deep history of its palace-lined streets.

This guide will equip you with the basic tools (the hammer and chisel, so to speak) you'll need to get under the stony skin of Florence. It breaks down the city layout and neighborhoods and provides useful facts and service information. It also reviews the best hotels and restaurants the city has to offer; you're sure to find something to fit your tastes and your budget.

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