The World Traveling Guide

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Florence

Florence is an incredible city and also  the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area.

Florence is famous for its history: a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the time, it is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called “the Athens of the Middle Ages“. A turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family, and numerous religious and republican revolutions.[5] From 1865-71 the city was the capital of the recently established Kingdom of Italy.

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Florence Italy – photo from http://paradiseintheworld.com/florence-italy/

The Historic Centre of Florence attracts millions of tourists each year, and Euromonitor International ranked the city as the world’s 72nd most visited in 2009, with 1.7m visitors. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. Due to Florence’s artistic and architectural heritage, it has been ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the city is noted for its culture, Renaissance art and architecture and monuments. The city also contains numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pitti, amongst others, and still exerts an influence in the fields of art, culture and politics.

Florence Italy

Florence Italy – photo from http://www.florence-tickets.com

Florence is an important city in Italian fashion, being ranked in the top 50 fashion capitals of the world; furthermore, it is a major national economic centre, as a tourist and industrial hub. In 2008, the city had the 17th highest average income in Italy.

Florence Italy

Florence Italy – photo from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

Florence originated as a Roman city, and later, after a period as a flourishing trading and banking medieval commune, it was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance (or the “Florentine Renaissance”). According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, it was politically, economically, and culturally one of the most important cities in Europe and the world from the 14th to 16th centuries.

Florence Italy

Florence Italy – photo from http://europapont.blog.hu/

The language spoken in the city during the 14th century was, and still is, accepted as the Italian language. Almost all the writers and poets in Italian literature of the golden age are in some way connected with Florence, leading ultimately to the adoption of the Florentine dialect, above all the local dialects, as a literary language of choice.

Florence Italy

Florence Italy – photo from http://www.beforeiforget.co.uk/

Starting from the late Middle Ages, Florentine money—in the form of the gold florin—financed the development of industry all over Europe, from Britain to Bruges, to Lyon and Hungary. Florentine bankers financed the English kings during the Hundred Years War, as well as the papacy, including the construction of their provisional capital of Avignonand, after their return to Rome, the reconstruction and Renaissance embellishment of the latter.

Florence Italy

Florence Italy – photo from http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/

Florence was home to the Medici, one of history’s most important noble families. Lorenzo de’ Medici was considered a political and cultural mastermind of Italy in the late 15th century. Two members of the family were popes in the early 16th century: Leo X and Clement VII. Catherine de Medici married king Henry II of France and, after his death in 1559, reigned as regent in France. The Medici reigned as Grand Dukes of Tuscany, starting with Cosimo I de’ Medici in 1569 and ending with the death of Gian Gastone de’ Medici in 1737.

Florence Italy

Florence Italy – photo from http://commons.wikimedia.org/

Florence borders on humid subtropical (Cfa) and Mediterranean climates (Csa). It has hot, humid summers with moderate rainfall and cool, damp winters. Surrounded by hills in a river valley, Florence can be hot and humid from June to August. As Florence lacks a prevailing wind, summer temperatures are higher than along the coast. Rainfall in summer is convectional, while relief rainfall dominates in the winter, with some snow. The highest officially recorded temperature was 42.6 °C (108.7 °F) on 26 July 1983 and the lowest was −23.2 °C (−9.8 °F) on 12 January 1985.[18]

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Madrid

Madrid  is the capital of Spain and its largest city. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be around 6.5 million.

It is the third-largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan area is the third-largest in the European Union after London and Paris. The city spans a total of 604.3 km2 (233.3 sq mi).

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The city is located on the Manzanares River in the centre of both the country and the Community of Madrid (which comprises the city of Madrid, its conurbation and extended suburbs and villages); this community is bordered by the autonomous communities of Castile and León and Castile-La Mancha. As the capital city of Spain, seat of government, and residence of the Spanish monarch, Madrid is also the political, economic and cultural centre of Spain. The current mayor is Ana Botella from the People’s Party (PP).

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The Madrid urban agglomeration has the third-largest GDP in the European Union and its influences in politics, education,entertainment, environment, media, fashion, science, culture, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world’s major global cities. Due to its economic output, high standard of living, and market size, Madrid is considered the majorfinancial centre of Southern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula; it hosts the head offices of the vast majority of the major Spanish companies, such as Telefónica, Iberia or Repsol. Madrid is the 10th most livable city in the world according to Monocle magazine, in its 2010 index.

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Madrid houses the headquarters of the World Tourism Organization (WTO), belonging to the United Nations Organization(UN), the SEGIB, the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI), and the Public Interest Oversight Board (PIOB). It also hosts major international institutions regulators of Spanish: the Standing Committee of the Association of Spanish Language Academies, headquarters of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE), the Cervantes Institute and the Foundation of Urgent Spanish(Fundéu BBVA). Madrid organizes fairs such as FITUR, ARCO, SIMO TCI and the Cibeles Madrid Fashion Week.

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While Madrid possesses a modern infrastructure, it has preserved the look and feel of many of its historic neighbourhoods and streets. Its landmarks include the Royal Palace of Madrid; the Royal Theatre with its restored 1850 Opera House; the Buen Retiro Park, founded in 1631; the 19th-century National Library building (founded in 1712) containing some of Spain’s historical archives; a large number of National museums, and the Golden Triangle of Art, located along the Paseo del Prado and comprising three art museums: Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía Museum, a museum of modern art, and theThyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which completes the shortcomings of the other two museums. Cibeles Palace and Fountainhave become the monument symbol of the city.

The nightlife in Madrid is one of the city’s main attractions. Tapas bars, cocktail bars, clubs, jazz lounges, live music venues, flamenco theatres and establishments of all kinds cater to all. Every night, venues pertaining to the Live Music Venues Association La Noche en Vivo host a wide range of live music shows. Everything from acclaimed to up-and-coming artists, singer-songwriters to rock bands, jazz concerts or electronic music sessions to enjoy music at its best.

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Nightlife and young cultural awakening flourished after the death of Franco, especially during the 80s while Madrid’s mayor Enrique Tierno Galván (PSOE) was in office, at this time is well-known the cultural movement called La Movida and it initially gathered around Plaza del Dos de Mayo. Nowadays, the Malasaña area is known for its alternative scene.

Some of the most popular night destinations include the neighbourhoods of Bilbao, Tribunal, Atocha, Alonso Martínez or Moncloa, together with Puerta del Sol area (including Ópera and Gran Vía, both adjacent to the popular square) and Huertas (Barrio de las Letras), destinations which are also filled with tourists day and night. The district of Chuecahas also become a hot spot in the Madrilenian nightlife, especially for the gay population. Chueca is popularly known as the gay quarter, comparable to The Castro district in San Francisco.

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What is also popular is the practice of meeting in parks or streets with friends and drinking alcohol together (this is called botellón, from botella, ‘bottle’), but in recent years, drinking in the street is punished with a fine and now young madrileños drink together all around the city instead of in better-known places.

Usually in Madrid people do not go out until later in the evening, and do not return home until early in the morning. A typical evening out could not start before 12:30 AM and end at 6:30 AM.