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Spring is the perfect season to visit Florence, a Renaissance city in the heart of Tuscany. A weekend here puts you at the centre of some of Italy’s best museums, beautiful cathedrals and churches, interesting streets and squares with elegant buildings and shops and excellent restaurants. We’ve put together our top 10 Florence sights and experiences to get you in the mood.

1. Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio

Florence’s most famous square is Piazza della Signoria, the heart of the historic center and a free open-air sculpture exhibit. The Loggia della Signoria holds some important statues including a copy of Michelangelo’s David. The piazza has been Florence’s political center since the middle ages and Florence’s town hall, the medieval Palazzo Vecchio, still sits on the square.

2. Il Duomo – Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Florence’s most popular site is its Duomo (cathedral), the Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore. The huge Gothic duomo was begun in 1296, consecrated in 1436, and holds 20,000 people. Its exterior, made of green, pink, and white marble, has several elaborate doors and interesting statues. Inside, Brunelleschi’s Dome is a masterpiece of construction. Here’s what to see inside the duomo.

3. Campanile – Bell Tower

The Campanile, bell tower, is in Piazza del Duomo. The first story was designed by Giotto and it is commonly called Giotto’s Campanile. Buy a ticket and climb the 414 stairs (no lift) for great views of the Cathedral and its dome and the city of Florence and surroundings.

4. Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio (old bridge), built in 1345, was Florence’s first bridge across the Arno River and is the only surviving bridge from Florence’s medieval days (others were destroyed in World War II). The Ponte Vecchio is still lined with shops selling gold and silver jewelry. From the bridge, you’ll have a great view along the Arno River and beyond.

5. Galleria degli Uffizi

The Galleria degli Uffizi holds the world’s most important collection of Renaissance art but it’s also Italy’s most crowded museum so it’s a good idea to buy tickets ahead to avoid long ticket lines (use the link above for booking information or buy tickets from Select Italy). The Uffizi holds thousands of paintings from medieval to modern times and many antique sculptures, illuminations, and tapestries. Artists whose works you’ll see include Michelangelo, Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Perugino, and Raphael.

6. Galleria dell’ Academia

Galleria dell’ Academia holds important paintings and sculptures from the 13th-16th centuries. Michelangelo’s David, probably the most famous sculpture in the world, is in the Galleria dell’ Academia as well as other sculptures by Michelangelo. You’ll also find an interesting collection of musical instruments, begun by the Medici family.

7. Boboli Garden and Pitti Palace

Cross the Ponte Vecchio to the Giardino di Boboli, a huge park on a hillside in the middle of Florence behind the Pitti Palace. Here you’ll find beautiful gardens and fountains and a great view of Florence. The Pitti Palace, Florence’s largest palazzo, was once the seat of the Medici family. You can visit 8 different galleries, including art, costumes, jewelry, and apartments.

8. Santa Croce

Santa Croce, in Piazza Santa Croce, is the largest Franciscan church in Italy and holds the tombs of several important Florentines including Michelangelo and Dante. The vast interior contains some exceptional stained glass windows and frescoes. One of Brunelleschi’s most important works, the Cappella dei Pazzi, is in Santa Croce.

9. The Baptistery

The Baptistery of John the Baptist, from the 11th century, is one of Florence’s oldest buildings. Its exterior is made of green and white marble and has three sets of amazing bronze doors (reproductions – the originals are in the Duomo Museum, also worth a visit). Inside, you can see some mosaics and a marble pavement of the zodiac.

10. Stay – JK Place

In the heart of downtown Florence, in Piazza Santa Maria Novella, just a few steps from the Renaissance church bearing the same name, the very special JK Place is hidden away. This elegant 5* boutique combines understated luxury with the intimatcy of a real house and attentive but never invasive service. Your home from home in Florence.
Find out more at VisitFlorence.com

In the heart of downtown Florence, in Piazza Santa Maria Novella, just a few steps from the Renaissance church bearing the same name, the very special JK Place is hidden away.

 

This elegant hotel combines an atmosphere with hints from the past while offering contemporary comfort, and follows a philosophy of hospitality which is truly different.

 

This is a real house, with fireplaces, flowers and objets  d’art collected over time, with a soft, refined, attentive but never invasive approach. The JK Place is the perfect ultra-luxurious spot for a late spring break to Firenze.

See current offers and book here: www.jkplace.com

 

Barcelona, Spain

Catalonia’s cool capital bursts into life at this time of year with the annual Feria de Abril de Cataluñya running until May 5th this year. The festival celebrates Andalucian culture with music, flamenco dancing, food and drink and a fairground at the city’s Forum Park.

Find out more here or check www.cassidytravel.com for deals

Nice, France

The cosmopolitan, chic capital of France’s Cote d’Azur, Nice is a great place to explore. The old town has colourful cobbled streets, galleries and restaurants, while the famous seafront Promenade des Anglais is the place to stroll beside the Med or people-watch from a cafe. You can also head inland to explore the stylish villages of Provence or an hour along the coast to Cannes, which hosts its famous film festival from May 15th to 26th this year.

Find out more here or check www.travelrepublic.ie for deals

Palermo, Sicily

The vibrant Sicilian capital is a treasure trove of palaces, castles and churches and doesn’t get anywhere near as many tourists as Florence or Rome. Stop for an aperitif at one of the cafes along Via della Liberta and watch Sicilian life go by. Don’t miss the amazing fruit markets – at their best at this time of year.

Find out more here or check www.expedia.ie for deals

Reykjavik, Iceland

After the very, very long winter we’ve had Iceland may not be the first place that jumps to mind for a spring break. Reykjavik however has all the elements you could want in a city break with the added advantage of offering some once in a lifetime experiences. From spouting geysers, hot springs and blue lagoons to buzzing nightlife, world class restaurants and countless ­museums we think Iceland’s capital has it all. May is also puffin season so make sure to hop on a boat to the Westmann Islands to see them.

Find out more here or check www.travelrepublic.ie for deals

Florence, Italy

Florence is often described as a living museum and strolling through the Uffizi, the original seat of power of the infamous Medici family, you would have to agree. There really is Renaissance treasure around every corner here but some highlights not to be missed include Uffizi and Accademia, the Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens and a sunset stroll over the Ponte Vecchio.

Find out more here or check www.topflight.ie for deals

Dominican Republic

7 nights all inclusive at the NOW Larimar in Punta Cana from just €579 per person + €510 tax.

Prices are based on 2 adults sharing in a Deluxe Tropical View room travelling between now and June 30th. Flights are with Air France via Paris.

Find out more and book www.classicresorts.ie

 

Miami & Barbados

Enjoy some of the best shopping and nightlife in the world with 3 nights in Miami and top it off with a 7 night stay in Barbados with it’s beautiful golden beaches.

Offer includes 3 nights at the 3* Ocean Five Hotel in Miami, 7 nights at the 4* Bougainvillea Beach Resort in Barbados including flights and transfers from €1,729 per person sharing.

Find out more and book www.trailfinders.ie

 

Amsterdam

Enjoy a 2 night stay in Amsterdam from June 12th – 14th from just €243 per person.

Price includes return flights from Dublin and 2 nights B&B at the Trianon Hotel. Subject to availability at time of booking.

 

Find out more and book www.arrowtours.ie

 

San Francisco

Summer in San Francisco from only €999 per person sharing!

Offer includes 5 nights at the Renoir Hotel in the city and return flights from Dublin. Price is based on 4 sharing. Travel date August 31st.

 

Find out more and book www.touramerica.ie

 

Italy

A suberb 3 centre Italian holiday taking you from Roman ruins to a floating city from €859 per person including taxes, flights and all transfers.

Offer includes 9 nights in Rome staying at the Hotel Luce in the centre of Rome, 3 nights in Florence at the 4* Fenice Palace and 3 nights in Venice at the 4* Hotel Bonvecchiati. All accommodations are on a B&B basis.

Find out more and book www.travelmood.ie

 

South Africa

12 nights in South Africa taking in Cape Town, the Garden Route and Safari  from €1,350 + €490 tax per person.

Offer includes 4 nights at the Southern Sun Waterfront Hotel in Cape Town, 5 nights 4* accommodation along the Garden Route, 3 nights at the Kariega Private Game Reserve, 9 days car hire plus return flights.

Find out more and book www.travelfocus.ie

 

Cruise

An 8 day, 7 night Mediterranean cruise aboard the MSC Splendida from just €529 per person.

Ports of call include Italy, Sicily, Malta, Tunisia and Spain.

Find out more and book www.topflight.ie

 

Orlando

Very special family holiday deal to Orlando from just €479 per person based on 2 adults and 2 children.

Price includes return flights and 7 nights accommodation at the International Drive Hotel.

Find out more and book www.touramerica.ie

 

 

 

 

 

The Northern Lights in Tromso

Watch nature’s own theatre unfold above you as the most spectacular light show takes centre stage. This offer from The Travel Broker includes:Return flights with SAS from Dublin – Tromso via Oslo, 5 nights in the Scandic Hotel, Tromso including breakfast daily, 1 checked in bag @ 23 kilos per person
From €845pp

Offer valid for travel: Nov 4-9, 18-23, 25-30 | Dec 2-7, 9-14
Visit www.travelbroker.ie or call 01-8333921

Trailfinders Luxury Hotel

FREE half board in a range of stunning luxury hotels with Trailfinders including.

5-star St Regis Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E, 4 nights from €949
Includes direct flights from Dublin to Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways, all taxes and charges, a 20% room discount & FREE half board, saving €390 per person.
Valid for selected departures 9 June to 9 September. Book by 21 March.

5-star The Jalousie Plantation, Saint Lucia, 7 nights from €1,589
Includes flights from Dublin or Cork to Saint Lucia with Virgin Atlantic, all taxes and charges, return transfers, a FREE nights & FREE half board, saving €799 per person.person.
Valid for selected departures 19 August to 5 October. Book by 29 March.

5-star Soneva Fushi by Six Senses, Maldives, 7 nights from €2,139
Includes flights from Dublin to Male with Etihad Airways, all taxes and charges, return seaplane transfers, 2 FREE nights & FREE half board, saving €680 per person.person.
Valid for selected departures 12 May to 30 June. Book by 21 March.

Dublin 01 677 7888 / Cork 021 464 8800 http://www.trailfinders.ie

Dominican Republic

5* NOW Larimar Punta Cana

7 nights All Inclusive

From €639pp Plus Tax €440pp

 Prices are based on 2 adults sharing in a Deluxe Tropical View room, travelling between 14th April – 12th July & 31st August – 30th September with British Airways via London.  Hotel Supplement between 13th July – 30th August is €35 per person per week. Taxes are changeable. Subject to availability at time of booking. Book by 27th March.

Visit www.classicresorts.ie

Mediterranean Cruise

5 night Mediterranean Fly Cruise incl Cannes Film Festival. From €628 per person including $100 onboard credit bonus.

Sailing aboard the newly renovated Royal Caribbean ship “Liberty of the Seas” ports of call include: Barcelona, Cannes, Florence and Rome.

Visit www.etravel.ie