We hope that you are enjoying our series of articles and guest articles on Italian tourist attractions, covering the entire country except for its major cities. In a sense we have left the best for last. We will describe what to see in Italy’s great cities neighborhood by neighborhood. You may not realize it, but Florence is divided into 9 districts. And each and every one of these districts boasts its own sightseeing attractions. If you have time, visit them all. In any case, read these articles to help plan your trip to Florence. You may be in for some real surprises.
The Fortezza da Basso district of northern Florence is named for the magnificent, huge (34 thousand square meters or about 8,4 acres) fortress, officially called the Fortress of San Giovanni Battista, built in 1534. Given the ebullient nature of Italian politics in those days (have things changed?) it may be hard to believe that this fortress was never attacked. It might be very interesting to read the history of its secret passages.
The Fortezza da Basso now houses the main Exhibition Centre in Florence (Palazzo delle Esposizioni), and hosts the most important fairs and shows (from haute couture - for example Pitti Immagine Uomo and Pitti Immagine Bimbo - to arts and crafts, gifts shows, and the Congress Tourism Market Show). The major pavilion hosting many of these events was designed by the architect Pierluigi Spadolini was inaugurated in 1977 and claims to be a world-class facility.
The Exhibition area of the Fortezza da Basso is connected to Florence’s Palazzo dei Congressi and Palazzo Affari. The Palazzo dei Congressi occupies a Nineteenth Century villa that has been carefully restored. In contrast Palazzo Affari is a modern five-story structure equipped to handle 1800 people. These buildings are surrounded by a large park.
The other major attraction of this district is the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, the largest Italian library (only Rome’s is in the same league) and one of the largest in Europe. Founded in 1714 when a scholar bequeathed his collection of some 30 thousand volumes, this library has grown to over 4 million. A major flood of the Arno River damaged up to one third of its volumes and periodicals.And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine Tuscany or other Italian wines.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website www.travelitalytravel.com devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website www.theworldwidewine.com with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.
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