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Florence - The Palazzo Vecchio (town hall) - a.s. photo

“The old town of Florence is relatively small, and all the sights can be easily reached on foot. The city is encircled by the Tuscan hills, and bisected by the (slightly insalubrious) waters of the Arno. The bridges which take us to the other side, however, are gorgeous. Florence is a popular destination, so there’s never a shortage of fellow tourists.

The city buzzes with life, day and night, and the outdoor cafés are thronged with tourists (chiefly American and Asian). Public safety is excellent, police cars are a frequent sight, and officers of the law patrol the streets. The street lighting is outstanding, so there’s no need to worry about walking home after a night out. On the other hand, female travelers may have to get used to the local men, who frequently call out to and try to strike up conversations with unaccompanied women. They are perfectly harmless, however, and all that is required, if you do not desire the pleasure of their company, is to politely but firmly tell them so.

Most of the museums and palaces offer discounts to students and/or EU citizens. It’s worth knowing that on the first Sunday of every month, almost all the museums are free to enter. Of course, this is also when the queues are longest.
As for prices: Florence is one of the most expensive cities in Italy, and unfortunately that’s just a fact you have to plan for.

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“The best spot in the city is Piazzale Michelangelo, overlooking the city. It can be reached by buses 12 and 13, from Piazza Santa Maria Novella. This high vantage point affords wonderful views over all Florence – the pride of the Italian Renaissance. There is also an extraordinary range of souvenirs on offer. We took a quick look around, and strolled about the area. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and we enjoyed ourselves so much we never noticed the time passing. We took a huge number of photographs from the viewpoint, because from here we were finally able to enjoy a view of the cathedral’s vast, brick-red cupola in its true glory! From out table at a charming café terrace, we could admire the whole city. And we did, right through until sunset! This made it a double treat, since Tuscany’s capital is even more beautiful when illuminated in the evening!

Practicals

Transport

“You can’t drive into the center of Florence, but there are several underground parking lots to choose from. These aren’t free, of course – we paid a total of about €15 to park close to the center for about six hours – about 15 minutes’ walk from the main square. Only electric cars and those belonging to locals are permitted in the center, so all the taxis are Prius or Leaf models.

Some cars emit a continuous beeping sound, so that pedestrians hear them approach – it must be tough for the drivers to bear it, day in and day out. One- or two-horsepower carriages are also available to hire, and when they are not pulling tourists through the streets, the beasts of burden stand munching on bales of hay thrown in front of them. They carriages have disc brakes on the rear wheels.

In the afternoon we dived back into the crowded streets. It enlivened our strolls to discover that during the summer, half the city is closed due to renovation works, so it would have been impossible to get by with just an offline GPS service. We were lucky to have Waze, a dynamic mapping application.

Florence - parking attendants - k.g. photo

Food

“The most popular street food in Florence is a kind of tripe – “tripa”, they call it, or else “lampredotto”. We found these so-called “tripe stands” throughout the city, offering the local variety of offal (in Florence it is generally cooked in tomato sauce, then seasoned with parmesan) and lapredotto, which cows stomach served with bread rolls and salsa verde (a green herb sauce). A special delicacy is the lampredotto bagnato, in which the tripe is placed into a halved (unsalted) Tuscan bun, together with some salsa verde, then the bun itself is dipped in the tripe stock just before serving. We tried this sandwich, and I have to say it was very good, though in general I’m not a fan of tripe. My friend only found out mid-meal what exactly he was eating. (2019)

Florence - cold cuts - a.s. photo

Florence - authentic pizza - a.s. photo

Florence - panini - a.s. photo

Florence - panna cotta - a.s. photo

Florence - beef - a.s. photo

Florence - gelato - a.s. photo

Shopping

The Gucci brand was founded in 1921 by Guccio Gucci here in Florence.

The Salvatore Ferragamo Shoe Museum has thousands of pairs of shoes on display, an unusual museum.

Florence - Ponte Vecchio - window shopping - a.s.

Florence - Pinocchio souvenirs - u.m.

Florence - pork sausages - the guy offers a tasting - z.m. photo

Florence - selling fish with music - h.a. photo

Fun

The genre of opera was invented in Florence in the late 16th century.

Florence - Piazza della Repubblica by night - a.s. photo

Public safety

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Florence - Piazza della Signora - gendarmes on horses and behind them Cosimo I de Medici (16th century) on a horse, too - h.a. photo

Florence - security - d.j. photo

Florence - police officers - v.j. photo

Others

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Florence - look - d.j. photo

Florence - along the Arno River - d.j. photo

Florence - street art - n.c. photo

Florence - corner house - k.g. photo

Florence - snacks - v.j. photo

Background

Destination in brief

Florence is the central city of the region of Tuscany.

Population (in 2020): 708,000

The locals of Florence speak Fiorentino, a Tuscan dialect, and a parent language of modern Italian.

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 1400 Euro

Florence is the birthplace of the piano, invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori in the 18th Century.

Leonardo Da Vinci was born in Florence in 1452.

Florence - Giotto's bell tower at the Piazza del Dumo - h.a. photo

Climate

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Florence - Rialto Bridge - a rainy day - Tom's photo

History

The legions of Julius Caesar founded the village in 59BC and named it Florentia, now called Florence.

Florence was the first European city to have paved streets (14th century)

The Ponte Vecchio is the only bridge in Florence that survived World War2. Allegedly Hitler voiced that it’s too beautiful to destroy.

Nowadays

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Florence - African migrant guys - m.s. photo

People

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Florence - contemporary masters - m.s. photo

Florence - local Casanova on bike - m.s. photo

Gastronomy

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Florence - thinly slicing Prosciutto, an Italian dry-cured ham - m.s. photo

Attractions

Statues

Florence - The Fountain of Neptune on the Piazza della Signoria - a.s. photo

Churches of Florence

The oldest church in Florence is the Basilica di San Lorenzo, which is the burial place of the Medici Family.

It took almost 140 years to build the Duomo on Florence.

Florence - Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore - z.m. photo

Florence - ceiling of the Duomo - a.s. photo

Florence - Baptistery of St. John - u.m. photo

Uffizi Gallery

Florence - Uffizi Gallery - Primavera - painted in1477–1482 by Sandro Boticelli - u.m. photo

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