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Forget Florida: Top sites of interest in Florence

May 16, 2012, 8:32 a.m.

Does the prospect of yet another summer trip to Florida leave you uninspired? Why not consider branching out and indulging your cultural side this season with a trip to Florence, Italy. Between the food, the art galleries, the shopping and the architecture, you're sure to have a vacation that you'll be talking about for years and years to come. Below are just a few favorite Florence attractions:

  1. Uffizi Galleries. Located in the heart of Florence near the Arno River, the Uffizi is among the oldest and most famous art galleries in the world. This former Medici palace is packed with masterpieces by artists like Botticelli, DaVinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Rembrandt. Avoid the summer lines by purchasing your admission tickets in advance.
  2. Ponte Vecchio. Once the premier Florence shopping mecca, the Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in Florence and the only one to survive World War II. This medieval structure over the Arno River still houses shops -- mostly jewelers, souvenir stands and leather purveyors. Even if you're not in a shopping mood, the bridge is still one of the most romantic and picturesque spots in all of Florence.
  3. The Duomo. The leading cathedral in Florence, formally the Basilica di Santa de Fiore, is the symbol of Florence and its dome can be seen from all over the city. Parts of the three-building Gothic church complex date back to the 14th century, and highlights include the massive, red brick dome; the bronze cathedral door panels that depict the life of the Virgin Mary; and the church's 44 stained glass windows.

Florence successfully mixes the classic and the modern to create a combination that keeps visitors enthralled and eager to return again and again.

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