If there’s a single structure that cemented Florence as the birthplace of the Renaissance, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is it. And just in time for Pope Francis’s visit to the city on November 10, the adjacent Museo Dell’Opera Del Duomo is reopening on October 29 as a masterpiece of its own after a two-year renovation. Now more than double its old size, the museum has 25 exhibition halls housing a re-creation of the cathedral’s original facade featuring Ghiberti’s gilded bronze Gates of Paradise door panels, Michelangelo’s Pietà statue, materials and models used to construct the cathedral’s iconic brick dome, and numerous works from the museum’s collection of sacred art—the second largest in the world after the Vatican. —Gabrielle Lipton
How to Get There
There are no direct flights between Florence and Asia, so expect a stopover in Europe. Frankfurt is a well-connected hub, as is Rome, from which Alitalia (alitalia.com) runs multiple daily flights to Florence.
Where to Stay
Just steps away from the cathedral, a sixth-century prison tower now houses the very fashionable Hotel Brunelleschi (doubles from US$435). It’s named after the architect and engineer of the dome, views of which are framed by big windows in many of the 96 rooms.
The three-Michelin-starred Entoca Pinchiorri is one of the most exclusive restaurants in Italy, while for casual Tuscan cooking, lunch-only Trattoria Mario is as authentic as it gets—try the massive bistecca fiorentina.
The Florence Biennale (Oct. 17−25) is celebrating its 10th edition this year with the theme of “Art and the Polis,” exploring the notion of an ideal city through works from leading international artists.
This article originally appeared in the October/November print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Tuscan Treasures”)