Florence, Italy: Catholicism, Art and Architecture in the Birthplace of the Renaissance
Of all the cities in Italy, Florence is probably best known for its works of art and architecture as well as its reputation for being the birthplace of the Renaissance. In the mid-15th and 16th Centuries, as political and religious strife lessened, it paved the way for artists to express themselves. Most of this art was sponsored by the Church and religious themes naturally took center stage.
The city is often seen as one large art gallery with dozens of museums throughout the city. Much of the architecture alone is magnificent and the paintings and sculptures within its buildings are world famous. Among the “must-see” sights of Florence are:
Santa Maria del Fiore, The Duomo (Cathedral) of Florence The most recognizable of the churches in Florence.
Traveling to Florence:
Florence does have an international airport, and train service is frequent from Rome (about 1 1/2 hours by express trains) and other cities. There are two train stations in Florence, the main station is Firenze Santa Maria Novella. Campo di Marte is mainly for commuter trains. Note that Firenze is the name for Florence that you will see on many signs throughout Italy.
Nearby Siena can make an excellent day trip–or great home base–and there is regularly scheduled train service as well (about 1 hr, 20 minutes).
A word about driving in Florence: it is a city that is not friendly to drivers, so if you are arriving by car we suggest you leave it at your hotel. Not only are special permits required to drive in the city, but there is very little parking.