I loved Florence. It was a much smaller city than Rome and had a more laid back feel to it. We wandered the streets all day Saturday, strolling through markets, shopping, and visiting the sites.
My favorite place in Florence was the Duomo or the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. The cathedral was originally designed by Arnolfo da Cambio. Construction started in 1296 but continued throughout the 14th and 15th centuries. The incredible dome was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. We climbed the 463 steps to the stop. It was exhausting but from the top of the dome you can see all of Florence and the surrounding hills.
The inside of the dome is a huge fresco depicting the Last Judgement and was painted by Vasari and Zuccari. You can see the different levels of the Last Judgement. The bottom level was hell, followed by Earth, then the people waiting to get into Heaven, and then at the very top, Heaven. It was a very visual depiction and was unusual but beautiful to see.
After climbing the Duomo we visited the Battistero or Baptistery which is known for the bronze doors that were crafted by Lorenzo Ghiberti. The doors facing the Duomo depict scenes from the Old Testament and the doors at the northern entrance depict scenes from the life of Christ. The original doors are on display at the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo and replicas stand in their place. They were removed to protect them from the harsh effects of pollution and acid rain.
We then visited Ponte Vecchio, old bridge, which is famous for being devoted solely to jewelery. The entire bridge, on either side, is flanked with 41 goldsmiths and 8 jewelers.
*Added information from Fodor's Essential Italy