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Birthplace of the Renaissance, home to Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and the works of Botticelli and Giotto, Florence has inherited a rich cultural heritage. A perfect choice for a short city break; even today, the Florentines and their city never fail to impress, a perfect holiday to Italy.

Insider Tip

Perhaps the best views of the city are to be had from the Piazzale Michelangelo, reached by following the quiet landes from the Ponte Vecchio along the city walls rising towards the San Miniato church.

Try schiacciata, a type of Tuscan flatbread, for a snack or a light lunch, or sample the fare of the many fiaschetterie around the city for a plate of crostini, salami, and pecorino cheese accompanied by a glass of wine from the Chianti region. The traditional bistecca fiorentina, the Florentine T-bone steak, is a must if you enjoy a hearty portion of meat, whilst the delicate fresh courgette flowers stuffed with ricotta cheese are not to be missed.

Piazza San Lorenzo has a daily morning market that's a great place to pick up some bargains and traditional gifts. Good buys in Florence include baskets, leather gloves, jackets and handbags, beautiful paper goods, silk and lace. Food and drink are also good buys; bottles of herb-infused olive oil, dried porcini mushrooms and dried pasta in all shapes and sizes and colours all make welcome gifts.

As you would expect, all of the designer shops are here, from Gucci and Roberto Cavalli to Salvatore Ferragamo, so whether it is a special purchase or simply some window shopping, the Via Tournabouni is where you need to be. For a souvenir with a difference, visit the ancient Dominican apothecary of Santa Maria Novella, housed in a 14th-century chapel and stocked with a range of antique perfumes and soaps.