Florence

Things to do - general

The artistic and architectural city of Florence is known in Italian language as Firenze.It is the capital of the region of Tuscany in Italy and renowned as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance from the 14th century to the 16th century. It had a significant role at that period as one of the most politically, culturally and economically important cities in Europe.

Florence is estimated to have a population of over 400,000 inhabitants within the city and more than a million people in her metropolitan area. It stands out as the most populated cities in the Tuscany region of Italy. The generally spoken language there from as far back as the 14th till date is Italian.

Florence is among the top 15 fashion capitals of the world and is proudly the home of quality Italian fashion, renowned around the world. Apart from being a national economic powerhouse, it is also one of the most industrialized cities across Europe.

Due to the rich artistic and cultural heritage of Florence, it attracts millions of tourists annually. UNESCO in 1982 classified the Historic Centre of Florence as a World Heritage. Tourists are never short of options of places to see, as Florence houses famous museums and art galleries like the Palazzo Pitti and the Uffizi Gallery. The relevance of the Tuscan city in politics, art and culture earned it a place in Forbes list of the most beautiful cities in the world. Florence is among the top 20 highest average income in Italy.

Florence is a city with a humid subtropical climate that slightly tends towards the Mediterranean. It is nestled within the hills of Arcetri, Poggio, Settignano, Careggi, Bellosguardo, Careggi and Imperiale all forming a basin to accommlodate the ancient city. The climate in the city varies from damp winters to hot summers to moderate or light rainfall, according to the period of the year.

Florence municipality is broken down into 5 administrative boroughs or Quartieri, namely: the Rifredi, with the highest population of about 105,000; followed by the Campo di Marte with a population of about 90,000; the historic centre of the Centro storico, with a population of around 70,000; then the Isolotto-Legnaia, with an estimated population of 68,500; finally is the Gavinana-Galluzzo, with a population of about 42,000. They are all under the administration of the Democratic Party.

Florence is famous for popular cathedrals, historical buildings and significant monuments, among which is the doomed cathedral called The Duomo. It is located in the city of Santa Maria del Fiore and its dome was built by Filippo Brunelleschi. The cathedral was built over 600 years ago and remains the largest dome built in mortar and brick in the world.

The layout and structure of the city of Florence still bears strong ties to the Roman Era. Its centre is surrounded by medieval walls that served as protection for the city back in the 14th century. While the major architectural design of the city bears semblance to the Renaissance period, there are still patches of Neoclassical, Baroque, medieval, as well as modern architectural designs across the city. The Piazza della Signoria, which is the heart of the city, has a masterpiece marble structure located at the terminus of the active Roman aqueduct. This artefact is known as the Bartolomeo Ammannati’s fountain of Neptune and was built between 1563 and 1565.

 

How many days should I spend in Florence?

Normally, it might just be enough to go around notable places in Florence within 1 or 2 days. But to enjoy your trip to Florence to the optimum, one week will be better option. In case you do not have the luxury of time or on a lean budget, we’ll take a look at how you can spend as less as a day and two days too.

  • One day tour: Starting off with a visit to the Uffizi and Accademia, it will be a wise idea to book tickets ahead of your visit, so that you don’t spend a quarter of the day on the queue for tickets. You can manage this by booking a tour that already takes care of ticket booking.

If you’re in time, you could catch Micheangelo’s David at the Accademia and then arrive at the Duomo by 10am. A trip around this cathedral, starting from Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise, should last not more than 15 minutes, except you want to spend an extra hour climbing to the top of Brunelleschi’s dome.

Have lunch at I Fratellini and head to Santa Croce to pay homage to Galileo and Michelangelo’s remains. Check into the famous leather school move across Via Verdi on the right and Via dei Lavatoi on the left to burst into Via Isola delle Stinche. Down below is the Vivoli Ice Cream Parlor, where the best gelato in Florence is served.

Next up should be a tour of the Uffizi for the best art in Italy. Before 7pm, you should be on your way to explore the statues of Piazza della Signoria in the twilight and get a glance at the Palazzi Vecchio from there.

Dinner should be at II Latini, where you get a good taste of awesome Tuscan dish and quality wine in abundance. But this should only come after your stroll across Ponte Vecchio. Your way back through Piazza della Signoria and the Duomo should complete your medieval experience of Florence.

  • Two day tour: If you have two days however, you could spend more time at the Accademia and the Santa Croce church, which is Florence’s equivalent of Westminster Abbey. You could also include a trip to the Santa Maria Novella church, Medici’s grand Pitti Palace, both lovely paintings and the Oltrarno for endless homely meal choices.

Things to know before going to Florence

  • The city is easy to navigate on foot, so you can save cost on transport with the use of your city map.
  • The emergency number of the Carabinieri (a military styled police force) is 112. For the police department, it is 113. To call an ambulance, dial 118. If you need the fire department or you’re locked out of your apartment, just dial 115.
  • A 24-hour pharmacy is available at Farmacia Comunale in Piazza Stazione and also at Farmacia Molteni in Via Calzaiuoli.
  • The simplest way to get your bus ticket is to send ataf in an SMS to 4880105. For a trip on the city outskirts, you need to find the SITA or LAZZI bus services.
  • Going from the Airport, you can call the Volainbus at their station near the taxi stand or go to the SITA bus station, located behind the central train station for 5 or 6 euros.
  • Picking a taxi from the taxi stands at the front of the train station is cheaper than calling a taxi. If you need to call one however, just dial +39 055 4242 and you see your taxi within five minutes.
  • You could save time from staying long on the queue for tickets into the historic and tourist sites by purchasing a Firenze card at just 72 euros. The card allows you access to many of these sites without having to book a reservation or buying a ticket on a long queue.
  • The Museums are not open to visitors on Mondays.
  • Some tourists have been known to get overwhelmed from seeing Florence’s art and architectural wonders. It is therefore advisable to go on a short trip to any of the surrounding Tuscan villages for a different experience.
  • It is advisable to go around with cash, as many small businesses and shops allow very limited credit card expenditures.
  • There are more visitors into the city in the spring, autumn and summer, but lesser in January and February.
  • It is advisable to learn basic Italian everyday sentences to build a good relationship with the locals.
CountryItaly
Visa requirements

A tourist on a visit up to three months does not necessarily require a visa. Nevertheless, people coming for other purposes such as study or vacation require a visa. A visitor to Italy without a valid passport would be denied entry into the city by Italian authorities. A valid visa can only be obtained legally from the Italian embassy or consulates.

  • PASSPORT VALIDITY: requires at least six months validity beyond planned date of departure from the Schengen area.
  • BLANK PASSPORT PAGES: requires two pages for entry stamp
  • TOURIST VISA REQUIREMENT: not necessary for stays under 90 days.
Languages spokenMajor language spoken in Florence is the twan dialect, which is a subset of the Tuscan dialect. It is spoken next to the parent language, Italian and the modern Italian spoken by inhabitants of Florence and its environs. However, those who operate in the tourism sector often converse in English.
Currency usedThe official currency in Florence, just like the rest of Italy is the Euro. The Euro has eight different coins domination; they are: 2 and 1 Euro coins, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1 cent. Though each state is decorated with its own coins, but all coins are exchangeable within states. The euro as well has 7 different bill denominations in circulation for use varying through 500, 200, 100, 50, 10, and 5 respectively. They vary in colour and sizes.
Area (km2)Florence occupies a span of about 102.4km2. It is bounded by hills of Careggi, Fiesole, Settignano, Arcetri, Poggio Imperiale and Bellosguardo. It has the Arno River, three other minor rivers and various streams flowing through it.

Sports & nature

Florence is one interesting place to get a full adventure of what nature has to offer. One of the most popular nature spots in the city is the Garden of Boboli. Sitting on a land mass of 45,000 square-metres, it is one of the symbols of the famous Giardini all’Italiana. It is side by side with the Pitti Palace complex.

If you wish to enjoy nature in a romantic atmosphere with you partner, the Giardino delle Rose is your ideal location. It is filled with typical Italian roses. For those who want to have a feel of history and enjoy a beautiful encounter with nature, the Giardino dell’Orticoltura is an ideal location. It is dotted by meadows, flowerbeds and fun spots for children. It is also the perfect spot to get an awesome view of Florence. The Parco delle Cascine is another site for the exhibition of what nature has on offer. Picnics and sporting events are often held here and it sometimes hosts cultural events too.

For sporting activities, football would probably come out tops. The city has a team in the highest division of Italian league football, Serie A; they are called Fiorentina. So if you are visiting anytime between August and May, be sure to find a weekend when the team will be playing at their traditional Artemio Franchi stadium on Viale Manfredo Fanti.

Cycling is a common sport in the North of Italy. To this end, there are usually many cycling events during the course of the year. Apart from these competitions, you can easily rent a bicycle for yourself from any of the numerous rental shops across Florence. If your passion lies in the game of Golf however, you can check out the Golf Club Montelupo at Fattoria di Fabbiana, Via Le Piagge or the Golf Club Ugolino on Via Chiantgiana. They are the closest golf courses to Florence, one 16 miles away and the other 6 miles away respectively.

For physical fitness purposes, you’ll find a number of fully-stocked fitness and wellness centres around the city of Florence. The Indoor Club on Via Bardazzi is one such place. Florence also parades a number of swimming pools (opened from June to September), tennis courts, rowing clubs, fishing spots within the city. Winter sports holds at a resort located in Abetone, on the border with Emilia Romagna.

Nightlife info

Florence boasts of a robust and decent nightlife. There are abundant discos, pubs and bars where patrons are treated to lovely cocktail and some delicious aperitif. Most nightclubs are mainly filled with students, including the foreign ones, who dominate the nightlife arena in Florence. Many of the nightclubs or bars are scattered around the Piazza della Signoria and the area of Oltrano.Different age grades and varying interests all find a purpose in the nightlife arena of the city.

When it comes to a blend of nightlife and cultural display, Florence has many concerts, theatre plays, live jazz performance, blues and soul music live shows. Among the most important Florentine music and cultural event is the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino at the Artwork of Florence. There is a season long array of events every year from Opera to Ballet to Symphonic concerts. Information on their schedule of events can be viewed on their website.

English and Irish pubs abound close to the famous tourist sites for easy access to visitors. Downtown Florence, you can find clubs, restaurants, lounge-bars and cocktail bars that are small and conducive, without much noise or distractions. Some of the recommended clubs and discos for visitors include:

  • Jazz Club Firenze, located on Via Nuova de Caccini 3, Firenze: This club is usually bustling with crowd, but still has an ambient atmosphere. They have a range Jazz and Blues selections, with a 6 euro member access card, valid for a year.
  • Tenax, located on Via Pratese 46, Firenze: This club is opened only on Fridays and Saturdays 22:00 hours to 4:00 hours. Even though it is an electronic disco club, it hosts several local concerts. It has a high foreign guests’ patronage and usually crowded.
  • YAB Disco Club Restaurant, located on Via dei Sassetti 5, Firenze: The club is open to patrons on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. The aesthetic design of this entertainment spot stands it out among the rest. They also offer good music from reputable Djs.
  • Auditorium Flog, located on Via Michele Mercati 24b, Firenze: It is cited on the hill of The centre parades tennis courts, swimming pool and a disco floor, among others. With a capacity for 1000 patrons, several concerts are held there.
  • Other nightlife spots include: Dolce Vita, Moma, Otel Variete, Flo Lounge Bar, Full up club, Club 21 (ex Andromeda), Space Club, Bamboo Lounge Club and many others.
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