Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance
Villa Iris is a private luxury villa with pool near Florence, the city renowned as one of the great art capitals of the world that had its heyday between the 14th and 16th centuries. It was during this period that Florence became the cradle the Renaissance, the artistic movement that changed Italy and the whole world forever.
Under the rule of the Medicis - the family of merchants who held power in Florence in these times, art and culture flourished and the most famous artists of all time worked in the Tuscan capital. These included, to name just the most famous amongst them, Giotto, Ghiberti, Fra' Angelico, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Donatello and Raffaello.
Little has changed since the time of these artists and with its architecture and works of art Florence is now a treasure trove of priceless masterpieces all concentrated within a few square kilometres - no other city in the world can boast such a high volume of valuable works of art. Whether you're strolling through the narrow medieval streets, admiring the view from the bridges over the river Arno or looking down on the city from one of the surrounding hills, the feeling you have of occupying the same space where Leonardo and Michelangelo once were is the same.
The legacy of the Renaissance, however, is just one of the many sides to Florence. Indeed, in spite of it being quite a small city, Florence has a lively cultural aspect and an exciting nightlife.
Eating in Florence
Florence also has much to offer in the way of eating places. Some of the most famous Italian foods in the world such as olive oil and Chianti originate from this city and its immediate surroundings, and Florentine cuisine can be enjoyed in the countless restaurants that offer traditional country dishes and put the goodness and simplicity of fresh local produce in the spotlight. The famous grilled steak, for example, which is known simply as bistecca fiorentina (Florentine steak).
Cultural treasures: craftsmanship
Finally, let's not forget the wealth of traditional craftsmanship in Florence that drives people from all over the world to come here for the handmade local products.
One of the sectors in which Florentine craftsmanship has reached the height of excellence is leather work and the production of articles such as handbags, wallets and clothing items.
Metalworking in Florence is also valued highly, especially the gold and silverwork featuring both classical and contemporary jewellery.
Florence's traditional craft culture also includes, of course, the much sought-after tradition of paper production, the most famous product from the industry being Florentine paper, which is hand-decorated with floral motifs.