- Florence (Firenze) is the capital city of Tuscany and the most populated city of the Tuscan region, with 1.5 million people in the metropolitan area.
- As the birthplace of the Renaissance, the city attracts millions of tourists annually.
- Florence truly flourished in the15th and 16th centuries, having established itself as the center of European trade and finance.
- Nicknames: Firenze is sometimes known as la cittá bella in Italian (“the beautiful city”).
- Currency: Euro (EUR).
- Spoken languages: Italian is the official language.
- Best time to visit: from April to October. Summers can get very hot.
- Arriving via airport: the Peretola Airport is just 4 kilometers away from the city centre. Airport shuttle service is available every half an hour between 6 AM and 11.30 PM. Tickets cost EUR 4.50 and can be purchased on board. A taxi ride will take about 15-20 minutes, and cost around EUR 25.00.
WHERE TO STAY
Anywhere in the city center. Piazza Della Signoria is the heart of the city, with most historical sights located within walking distance.
- The Historic Center is relatively small, making it easy to see everything and get around on foot. Maps of the city can be found at the Tourist Information offices.
- City buses are run by ATAF and LI-NEA. They offer a single use tickets (EUR 1.20) and multiple-ride tickets (EUR 4.90), valid for 90 minutes. There are ticket validating machines on the bus, which print the date and time of validation. These tickets can be purchased from ATAF Booth in Piazza Stazione. If it is bought directly on the bus, the single use will be EUR 2.00.
- Taxis can be called at 055.4242, 055.4390, 055.4798, and 055.4499. Information on prices will be displayed inside the vehicle. Within the city boundaries, the initial fixed charge is EUR 3.20, (EUR 6.40 at night, and EUR 5.10 on Sundays and public holidays).
- Drinking age is 19, last call is 2 AM.
- Hip/local scene: bars in the middle of the city’s history center, between the Duomo and Piazza Della Signoria.
- Trendy scene: Club TwentyOne on Via dei Cimatori. Yab at Via dei Sassetti, 5. Both located in the Historic center.
- College crowd: clubs in the city center, near Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce neighbourhood.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo). The Cathedral is possibly the most important piece of Renaissance architecture in the city. The Dome (built by Brunelleschi) is the is the prime part of the Duomo, dominating the skyline of the city. The Cathedral is located in the heart of the historic city center. Entrance to the Cathedral is free, while entry to the dome is EUR 8.00.
- Giotto’s Bell Tower. Standing adjacent to the Duomo, this tower is one the masterpieces designed by Giotto.
- The Uffizi Gallery, designed by Giorgio Vasari, is one of the greatest museums of the world. Housing a vast collection of Italian Renaissance art by premier masters (Giotto, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Da Vinci, Raphael), this museum is truly a visual feast for any art lover.
- Visit the Accademia Gallery. Michelangelo’s David arrived here in 1873, moved from the Piazza Signoria. One of the most visited museums in Europe, the museum features legendary works by Michelangelo, Boticelli and Giambologna.
- Ponte Vecchio, the “Old Bridge” of Florence, was the first bridge built in the city across the Arno River. Having survived World War II, it offers a great view of the river.
- Baboli Garden and Palazzio Pitti. After you cross the old bridge, you will see Balboa Garden – a huge park on a hillside. Not an ordinary garden, Baboli features a collection of sculptures from the 16th to 18th centuries, as well as some Roman antiques. A short walk away, the Pitti Palace contains museums displaying renowned Renaissance-era Medici family collections.
- Walk from Piazza Marco to the historic center and then carry on to Galleria Accademia. Walk around the semi-circular Piazza della Republica – treat yourself to a meal from an authentic trattorias, or indulge at a local gelateria.
- Cross the Ponte Vecchio towards the Baboli Garden. Check out the goods on display at the traditional jewelry shops lining the bridge.
- Walk through the Baboli Garden, while admiring both Roman and Renaissance sculptures.
- Walk around the historical Florentine Hills. 8 kilometers up, the commune of Fiesole offers a breathtaking view of the city.
- It is very important to carry English to Italian dictionary. It will come really handy in Italy as English is that widely spoken. Great for getting directions, ordering food or even just shopping for the right size of clothes.
- Italians are usually warm and welcoming people and they love to relax and socialize. Don’t be surprised if you meet some friendly Florentines!
- Where to find good cheap eats: check out the traditional trattorias! Trattoria da Mario, a friendly family run trattoria located at teh Mercato Centrale, has been serving classic Tuscan food for 50 years.
- Dangerous areas: There are no real dangerous areas in Florence to speak of, but the area around the train station and Santa Maria Novella Church should be avoided.
RECOMMENDED FLORENCE GUIDE BOOKS
- The Cognoscenti’s Guide to Florence: Shop and Eat like a Florentine
- Rick Steves Pocket Florence
- Tuscany for the Shameless Hedonist:: Florence and Tuscany Travel Guide
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days