Vibrant, romantic and utterly unique, pick up your hire car in Florence airport and experience one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
"Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello, Botticelli and, more recently, Gucci, have all left their mark. This city has style, sophistication and beauty in the blood."
Florence was indeed at the epicentre of the Italian Renaissance and it shows. Even those whose artistic experience consists of playing with a colouring book when they were five will be moved. But it's also a bustling city with much else to enjoy.
The city isn't simply a very large open-air gallery - it's Tuscany's business hub, which, when combined with the tourist hordes, make it a lively place to say the least.
It's a suave and vibrant city, and so are its people, who are never happier than when they're strutting about in an effortlessly chic manner.
You can't beat a warm spring day in Florence. The rest of the year isn't too bad either, but the summer months tend to be hot, humid and overflowing with tourists.
Like all Italians, Florentines are fiercely proud of their food. Try taking a diversion from pizza and pasta and tuck into ribollita - a hearty Tuscan vegetable soup.
Apart from all those Renaissance artists and fashion designers, Florence was also home to the powerful financiers of the Medici family and explorer Amerigo Vespucci.
Without Florence, travelling would be a much bumpier experience. It was the first city in Europe to pave its streets, in 1339.
"In Paris, you learn wit, in London you learn to crush your social rivals, and in Florence you learn poise." - American composer Virgil Thomson
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This grand palace, built during the Renaissance by the Pitti family, is an opulent reminder of Florence's wealthy past and has excellent views of the city.
The most convenient car park on the left bank of the Arno is at Piazza della Calza, along the old city walls just inside the Porta Romana. It's €1.50 per hour or €18 for the day.
You can't visit Florence without seeing its most famous sculpture. Michelangelo's David stands in all his naked glory here.
The nearest parking is under the Mercato Centrale di San Lorenzo. However, staying for longer than two hours is impossibly expensive until 2pm, so plan your visit for the afternoon when the hourly charge is just €2.
This collection of architectural delights - a cathedral, bell tower and baptistery - are clustered within walking distance of each other in the Piazza del Duomo.
Leave your hire car at the 600-vehicle underground parking lot next to the train station. The first two hours cost €2 each, but it's €3 thereafter. Bring the entry ticket with you and pay from the desk before collecting your car.
In the Premier League of galleries, the Uffizi is challenging for top spot. It is home to some of the world's finest art and, if that wasn't enough, the buildings are equally inspiring.
The closest parking is along the Lungarno della Zecca Vecchia. You want the spaces outlined in blue, because the white ones are for residents only. It's pay-and-display and gets more expensive after the first hour.
Many of the city's finest artists are buried in this church, which makes it of particular interest to those with a penchant for painting.
The underground Parcheggio S. Ambrogio on Piazza Annigoni is only a short stroll away. Between 7am and 2pm it costs €1 for the first two hours, and €3 thereafter. 2pm to 8pm and on Sundays it's €1.50 per hour.
Enjoy a nice bottle of Chianti (preferably not with Hannibal Lecter) in the green rolling hills of central Tuscany.
Follow the SS222 right into the heart of Chianti's wine region and enjoy the beautiful views across the countryside. The drive should take you no longer than 40 minutes.
There was civilised life in Italy before the Romans, you know. Discover what life was like in this region before Caesar and his chums turned up, at this park.
Head south-west on Piazza del Grano toward Piazza de'Giudici. Follow the Lungarno Generale Armando Diaz straight and take the SP53, following signs to Fiesole. The journey should take no more than 15 minutes.
Drive through the hills that surround Florence, stopping off in quaint villages along the way - after all, you don't want your holiday getting too strenuous.
Head south-west on Piazza del Grano toward Piazza de'Giudici and take the Via delle Porte Sante into the picturesque Florence Hills. You'll be out of the city and into the countryside in under ten minutes.
Populonia was once the most important settlement in Tuscany, and this fortress is testament to its rich history
Head south-west on Piazza del Grano toward Piazza de'Giudici, and follow signs for the Via Enrico De Nicola. Take the SP127 and A1 towards Populonia - these are both toll roads so have some cash ready in advance. The journey should take around two hours, traffic permitting.
" Traffic in some parts of the city is heavily affected by major roadworks to build three different tramway lines. This is going to last a few more years. Also, remember that most of the city centre is off limits to non-residents, but if your hotel is in the restricted area you can have your hire car whitelisted by the concierge for you. You'll need a hire car to explore the beautiful surrounding area of Tuscany, and should find the Italian roads easy to drive on. "