The beautiful city of Florence - 'the jewel of the Renaissance' - is a city of many treasures. Picturesque, narrow streets and handsome squares, including the Piazza della Signoria - the people-watching centre of Florence - are only part of the city's charm; much of the beauty of the city is found indoors. One fifth of the world's Renaissance art is kept and displayed in Florence's museums, galleries, churches, monasteries and palaces; many in the Basilica Santa Croce, burial place of some of Italy's most celebrated icons including Galileo, Machiavelli and Michelangelo, and as many as 1,700 masterpieces in the world-famous Uffi zi Gallery.
Among the city's famous buildings are the Duomo with its iconic red-tiled dome, which dominates the city skyline, both day and night. Called 'Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore' - Florence's cathedral (Duomo) was constructed between 1296 and 1436. Located in the appropriately named 'Piazza del Duomo', the cathedral complex also includes the Baptistery and Giotto's Campanile - a free-standing bell tower. Together, the three buildings have been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.
Another of Florence's charms is the beautiful Ponte Vecchio - a 14th century bridge that is home to 43 jewellers' shops. The bridge spans the River Arno at its narrowest point - thought to be the place where the Roman's first bridged the river. The shops on the bridge had been monopolised by butchers for over 150 years, until a local law was introduced in 1593, banning butchers in order to preserve the 'prestige' of the bridge.