Having a car in Florence can be a hindrance, but is essential if you want to explore the surrounding Tuscan countryside.
The nearest airport is a 20-min drive from the centre of town, and a taxi costs roughly €15. You can also fly into Pisa airport, from where a direct train takes 45 minutes and costs €5.
The main station is behind Piazza Santa Maria Novella, for connections to the rest of Europe.
Country code for Italy: 39. Florence: 055.
A Room with a View by EM Forster; The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio.
Do go / Don't Go
Florence is packed with tourists throughout the summer months, when it's also very humid.
Pasta e fagioli (beans), T-bone steak, game, Chianti. Panforte nero di Siena: a spicy confection of almonds, honey, cocoa and candied peel.
You can't hail a cab on the street; go to a designated fermata di taxi.
Five to ten per cent.
A sketchbook, a sunhat, sensible shoes.
Sixty per cent of the world's most important works of art are housed in Italy and half of these are in Florence. The Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiori, aka the Duomo, was built in 1434, and its dome is a celebrated feat of engineering. The Bargello contains an unrivalled collection of Renaissance sculptures (www.sbas.firenze.it/bargello). The famous Uffizi houses Botticellis, Michelangelos and da Vincis; reserve tickets (www.polomuseale.firenze.it).
Tea on the outside terrace of the Villa San Michele hotel in Fiesole. A romantic day out to San Gimignano, a mediaeval town with towers, cobbled streets and very romantic views.
The Mercato Centrale in San Lorenzo is a huge covered food market crammed with every kind of local speciality. The market on Sundays around Piazza San Lorenzo is a little disappointing; try the fleamarket at Piazza dei Ciompi instead. For designer clothes, Luisa Via Roma on Via Roma is a high-fashion multi-designer boutique. Universo Sanchez on Via il Prato is a lifestyle shop with clothes, a bar and a barber. For interior design, try Flair on Lungarno Guicciardini.
Climb the 414 steps to the top of the Campanile, or up the Duomo itself for a 360-degree view of Florence. Drive up to Fiesole and look down across the entire town.
Stroll along the Ponte Vecchio; gaze at Michelangelo's David.
Florence hosts five major international fashion events yearly. May-June Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, at the Teatro Comunale, is one of Europe's oldest music fests (www.maggiofiorentino.com). 11-24 June The Festival of San Giovanni; highlights include the regatta, near Ponte Vecchio, and fireworks in Piazzale Michelangelo. 7 September Rificolona festival, when children carry lanterns in a grand procession, and there are street performances and parties.