The Italian city of Florence offers a magical blend of art, culture and architecture, as well as gourmet food. It is the capital of Tuscany and one and a half hours by train from Rome. Explore the ancient streets, churches and squares and time seems to stop with centuries of cultural heritage all around.
The city is also known as ‘Florentine’ and there are marble statues and Gothic architecture everywhere. The Piazza del Duomo is the heart of the historic city centre. Visit the Church of Santa Croce, the ancient palace and Uffizi Gallery via the accessible streets, admire one of the famous David statues by Michelangelo or visit the leather market near Mercato Centrale . Shops located along the Ponte Vecchio Bridge spanning the Arno River and the Piazzale Michelangelo overlooking all of Florence are must-see attractions for photography enthusiasts.
Tuscany is well-known for its rich olive oil and wine. San Gimignano is a UNESCO World Heritage site where you can admire medieval towers of different heights surrounded by city walls. Wander through the alleys and remember to visit the world’s most delicious Gelato shop, Sergio Dondoli, to savour the tasty flavours!
Chianti is the well known Italian red wine made from grapes grown in the fertile hills of Tuscany. Visitors go on short tours while they are in Florence to see some of the many wineries for a taste of authentic wine, extra virgin olive oil or truffles, followed by a farm visit to learn how to cook Italian dishes and the authentic way of eating Italian pasta. Although the local farmers only speak Italian, the language barrier is often overcome by the warm hospitality, which makes the home-made light cheese and salami with bruschetta even tastier. Feel the warmth of the Italians as you enjoy grappa, a kind of brandy with 40% alcohol made from grape skins.
Transport: The flight from Hong Kong to Florence takes about 16 hours.
Climate: Most of Italy has a sub-tropical Mediterranean climate. Spring in Florence is from April to May and there is a noticeable temperature difference between the morning and evening, where the lows are from 7°C to 11°C and the highs 18°C to 23°C. Remember to take a rain coat.
Florence travel website: www.firenzeturismo.it
(By Candy Chan, winner of the third Young Writers’ Debut competition.)