I recently spent a very pleasant few days in Florence. The Tuscan capital is, of course, famous for its history, art, architecture and music, but there’s much more to the city.
It’s cleverly introduced the trappings of modern life – designer shops, night clubs and fast food outlets, for example – without compromising its status as the cradle of the Italian Renaissance.
The world-famous Uffizi gallery draws people from all over the world, and if there’s one tip I’d offer it’s to book an organised tour. In this way, you’ll avoid the long lines of visitors paying on the day, while also being given some context to the paintings you see. Also, it seems that the later the tour in the day, the less crowded it is and the easier to move around the displays.
Also impressive was the Basilica of Santa Croce, which is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians in history, including Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli. It’s vast, so allow plenty of time.
And when your feet can stand no more walking, head for the sprawling Boboli Gardens, an oasis of calm from the constant traffic of vehicles and tour parties. As well as the formal 16th century gardens, there are sculptures, Roman antiquities and, if you’re up for a climb, great views of the city.
by Andy Moreton
The capital of Tuscany is a delight all year round, and Luxique offers a selection of 14 of the finest luxury hotels in Florence.
The vast cultural differences between East and West were highlighted by an incident in the Italian city of Florence in the summer.
Tourists – including Italians – have, for some years, written their names and messages on part of the panoramic terrace of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. The Florentine authorities have, for the most part, simply shrugged and used a small team of graffiti cleaners.
But when it was reported that some of the work had been done by Japanese visitors, the reaction in Japan was one of shock and horror. Something equivalent to a manhunt was organised in the media there and the perpetrators - several students and a teacher - were unmasked.
A Japanese expert told an Italian paper that the students, but above all the teacher, had made the Japanese lose face abroad. “They offended their hosts – that is to say, Italy – and this, for the Japanese mentality, is unacceptable.
Two students were suspended from their studies and the teacher is to face disciplinary action. One 19-year-old fashion student flew back to Florence at her own expense, apologised and gave the Cathedral authorities 600 Euros (£472/$865) in compensation.
The reaction in Italy was said to be a combination of bewilderment and admiration.
by Andy Moreton
Scientists have found a new way to assess weak points in centuries-old statues and Michelangelo’s David in the Italian city of Florence is one of the first to benefit.
The new computer-based method - developed in the United States - relies on a three-dimensional scan of an object, which can be carried out with a laser. It calculates where points of weakness occur and how they will be affected by forces acting on them, such as gravity.
Work on Michelangelo’s Renaissance masterpiece, which was carved between 1501 and 1504, has found weak regions in David’s right leg in particular. The Florentine authorities could now make pre-emptive repairs.
In the medical field, the technique could be used for scans on living bones in patients.
The Luxique website offers a a unique selection of Florence luxury hotels as well as comprehensive Florence city guide.
by Andy Moreton