Florence is a living art centre where the people enjoy constant intimacy with masterpieces without losing their natural qualities. Tourists may stroll along the Via Tornabuoni where dressmakers and antiquarians carry on their trade, or around San Lorenzo which is lively with shops and open-air stalls. They may pause beneath the Loggia of the Lanzi and also stop before the luxury shops on the Ponte Vecchio.


When a little tired they may sit in one of the cafes of the Piazza Repubblica, or the Via Tornabuoni, and enjoy an ice cream or a cup of coffee. At lunchtime or dinnertime they will seek out a trattoria or buca (cellar) where they can sample the delicious Tuscan cuisine. As they walk they will see familiar street scenes: the six-balled shields of the Medici, the niches, the flower-decked resting places, the altars and the sculptures that adorn the facades. The visitor will finally discover the characteristics of the Florentines: irony, artistic sense, quick wits and a love of the spectacular. Craftsmanship flourishes in Florence: there are fashion houses, leather, gold and silversmiths' workshops, straw makers and gem workers' shops.