I have some typos in my previous post, but I can’t edit it anymore. Venice was an entity, not an entitity. LOL
MrsGatito: Sorry for mutliple replies, but I have a lot to say on this! 😉
Florence needs no defense for the serious lover of Western culture and art, though, quite frankly, I have more fun eating and drinking in other Tuscan towns (this is not to say that there aren’t great places in Florence). My absolutely biased thoughts on major Florentine sites:
1. Pay the money to see the real David; it makes the replica in the Piazza della Signoria look sad.
2. The San Lorenzo complex can be a bit of a chore and the Chapels are terrible: I prefer to dwell on the Michelangelo works at the Museo del Duomo, Bargello, and Uffizi, and if I want Brunelleschi, I go to Santo Spirito.
3. The Duomo is ‘eh,’ particularly on the interior. Walking up to the top of the dome is good, of course (but if the line is intolerably long the top of the Orsanmichele, which is never busy, also offers a view–but it is not as good), but Vasari’s Last Judgment fresco on the interior represents everything I hate aesthetically about the late 16th/17th centuries in one work of art.
4. On the other hand, the Baptistery is fantastic and its mosaic is in my top 5 favorites works in the city.
5. My favorite work in the city is in Santa Croce’s museum, and Santa Croce is my favorite of the big churches. Be careful of the guides offering their services independently–at no other site in Florence can I recall hearing so many flatly incorrect claims coming from the mouths of guides.
6. The arch in Piazza della Repubblica is up there with Vasari’s fresco as one of the worst things in the city; the Mercato itself manages to convey enough of the sense of the “Florence as capital of Italy” era for me. If you can get into the Piazza della Signoria when it isn’t crawling with people, you can get a sense of the 14th and 15th century energy and glory of the city.