Subject: Florence
We leave for two weeks in Europe at the end of this week, which includes several days in Florence. This will be our sixth time there, and it is our favorite city--anywhere. As luck would have it, Rudy Maxa did his most recent travel show on this magnificent city last week.

One thing about Florence that is basic to everything else is that it is extremely compact so you don't need a cab to reach the major sights, although a bus to Piazzale Michelangelo might be advisable. Also, a lot depends upon your background. Because Florence was both the cradle of the renaissance, an important religious center in the Church, but also a city that generally respected its Jewish citizens, how you mix your time (or whether you go at all) in the Uffizzi, the Duomo, or the magnificient Synagogue may differ from someone else's. Two days also limits the time you can spend in such wonderful places as the suburb of Fiesole with its spectacular view of the city, to say nothing of the great day trips you can take to Siena, San Gimignano, Lucca, or Bologna.

Nonetheless, here are some musts to see (for those interested in Jewish history, add the Synagogue, which is 10 minutes from the Accademia). These are probably consensus choices.

1. The Uffizzi musueum (make reservations as soon as you can--it is close to the #1 attraction of places that have limited space. 2. The Duomo (cathedral) 3. The Accademia (museum) 4. Piazele Michaelanglo (park with magnificient view of the city--point your camera at random and you will take a great picture). 5. Santa Maria Novella (apart from its beauty, this is also the church from which Gallileo's research was denounced). 6. The Pitti Palace 7. Santo Croce church and Piazza 8. The Bargello (statuary) 9. San Lorenzo church

Our favorite restaurant is the Giglio Rosso near the intersection of Panzani and Giglio (say hi to Angelo, the capo, for us--we will be seeing him later this month) with Bordino's second. For general shopping, the Straw Market is between the Duomo (cathedral) and the Ponte Vecchio (famous old bridge, which is an important landmark but as least as much for shopping) since your time is limited, but we prefer the larger San Lorenzo market. For jewelry, visit Vaggi's on the Ponte Vecchio , and for leather, Olde Town leather and Modava Gloves--the latter is on the oltrano side of the Ponte Vecchio (the side away from the Duomo) and Olde Town leather is four stores down.

Ira H. Bernstein, Ph. D. UT-Arlington