Florence bejewels Tuscany, bringing its special beauty into full flower. The Arno river, a bright ribbon running through its ancient centre, and verdant garden hillsides frame the historic monuments that demand admiration. Yet this is a city to savour slowly, for Florence was enough to leave Stendahl, among others, breathless for good reason. It is a city overlaid with extravagance – so many masterpieces in the galleries, so many architectural wonders that stop you in your tracks, so many elegant shops and exclusive boutiques to choose from, so much noise and bustle.

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