When Lonely Planet Local Nardia Plumridge first laid eyes on Florence as a teenager, it was love at first sight. Today, the Renaissance capital’s classic cafes, quaint cobbled streets and hidden churches are her inspiration, and the city's fantastic cuisine and culture satisfy her craving for la dolce vita ('the sweet life').

I like to start the day…
 with a fluffy cappuccino at Caffe Gilli. The cafe dates back to 1733, and today it retains an old-world charm, with baristas in dapper suits serving stiff caffeinated drinks on a long marble bar (the best spot for people-watching). Their selection of pastries and chocolates is one of the best in Florence, making for a sweet way to start the day.

The best view of Florence…
 is from up high in the tower of Palazzo Vecchio. Many travellers race to the Duomo to climb its terracotta dome but I prefer the less-visited medieval Torre d'Arnolfo, which offers stunning 360-degree views across the city that will take your breath away. Inside the palazzo you'll also see the opulent rooms and old apartments of the famed Florentine Medici family. It’s a worthy excursion for any traveller, including those visiting with kids.

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