Florence is one of the most famous Italian cities in the world. It owes its immense popularity to the historical and cultural events of which it was the protagonist, to the artistic treasures it houses, to the thriving food and wine culture and to Italian fashion, of which it has often made its spokesman.
The vastness of attractions that it offers often makes it difficult for tourists to organize a tour of the city capable of capturing all that it has to offer.
Therefore we propose our mini-guide, a sort of Bignami of the Tuscan chief town. So, inside this article there are numerous ‘Tips’, suggestions on what must-do Florence has to offer.
Where is Florence?
Florence is somehow the beating heart of Italy and is located in the center of Tuscany.
The city is immersed in an area as enchanting as the urban center itself. In fact, it is surrounded by Terre del Chianti, Mugello and Valdelsa. These rural areas, with their soft hills and endless vineyards, are able to amplify the magic of the beautiful city.
Its strategic position has always made Florence a place of passage and exchange, particularly important for the Italian economy. In fact, the city is located between the northern Milan, Turin and Venice and the southernmost Rome and Naples.
Art in Florence: 5 things to see
One of the greatest pride of Florence is certainly the abundance of Renaissance artistic productions it hosts. In fact, the Italian Renaissance began properly in the Tuscan chief town, through the work of the great architect Brunelleschi.
Furthermore, the museum complexes that enrich the city offers true masterpieces, of inestimable value, made by brilliant minds such as those of Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Titian.
Now we present you some of the treasures that you will have the chance to admire in Florence.
CATHEDRAL OF FLORENCE
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo of Florence, is a remarkable architectural work having Gothic style and located at the beginning of the historical center of the city.
This splendid Cathedral, designed by Brunelleschi, was inaugurated in 1436 and presents interesting and precious works such as the building itself.
In particular, indoors it is possible to admire L’ultimo Giudizio, a work made by Giorgio Vasari, and a particular clock built on the Ora Italica (it shows, therefore, all 24 hours of the day).
It is probably possible to consider the Ponte Vecchio as one of the main symbols of the city of Florence.
This bridge represents the oldest building able to cross the banks of the Arno. Specifically, it was designed and built by Taddeo Gaddi from 1345.
Initially, this architectural work welcomed the meat market along its parapets. To date, however, the bridge mainly houses jewelers and luxury watches.
GARDENS OF BOBOLI
Located next to Palazzo Pitti, the Boboli Gardens is a verdant area whose construction was commissioned by the Medici family.
The garden does not have a flat structure and covers 30 hectares. The area is enriched by numerous statues and marble fountains, so many to consider the park an open-air museum.
Moreover, always in the green oasis stands the Kaffeehaus which, as the name suggests, is a rococo style structure that was used in the nineteenth century to drink a very Italian coffee.
Inside the Uffizi Gallery, Botticelli’s wonderful work ‘La Primavera’ is performed. It was made at the end of the 15th century.
This painting reproduces various figures of classical mythology immersed in a forest of orange and dark laurel. The goal and meaning of the work is largely hidden, but the author certainly want to celebrate love and prosperity, among other things.
What denotes the artist’s ability in this context is certainly the attention to detail. In particular, among the vegetation, it is possible to distinguish 138 different plants.
Still in the Uffizi Gallery, it is possible to admire Bacchus, an original product by Caravaggio, made between 1596 and 1597.
The remarkable element of the painting is the extremely naturalistic rendering of the fruit basket and the cup of wine that adorn the human figure. Bacchus is depicted as stunned by a lot of wine and tries to convey the freedom of the senses that characterized the classical era.
History in Florence: 5 things to know
The history of Florence is inevitably intertwined with the history of the entire peninsula. As I anticipated, the Tuscan capital was a place of passage, much appreciated and contested, since the times of the Roman Empire.
The city was founded in 59 BC and called Florentia, when the Roman civilization assimilated the Etruscan one. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the city became the theater of clashes between the Goths and the Byzantines, and then find themselves under the Lombard domination.
In the 8th century, Florence became part of the Holy Roman Empire and Charlemagne himself stopped there two different times.
We are now reporting some of the main and most important events that, starting from the thirteenth century, had as their protagonist the Tuscan capital, then a simple municipality.
GUELFI AND GHIBELLINI
The war between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines is certainly one of the most famous and tragic historical moments in Florence.
Between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, while the city was at its maximum economic and demographic splendor, the two factions disputed the succession to the crown.
The Guelphs were spokesmen for the power of Pope Clement IV, who supported them openly. This fringe, formed mainly by people of the people, represented the majority of Florence and was contrary to noble privileges.
Among Ghibellines, however, the Florentine nobility was almost entirely placed. Their faction was supported by the German Emperor and was particularly contrary to the church’s interference in political matters.
The violent struggles ended in 1293 when the Ghibellines, strongly weakened and injured by the loss of the emperor’s support were expelled from the organs of power.
TUMULTO DEI CIOMPI
With Tumulto dei Ciompi is indicated a revolt activated by one of the most humble classes of workers in Florence in the 14th century.
In fact, in 1378 the ciompi, or the battilani, started to protest for the impossibility of creating their own art, a Guild.
On 24 June, therefore, led by Michele di Lando, this poor part of the population managed to enter Palazzo Priore and obtain the much-desired permission.
The Medici, who had been the richest family in Florence for a long time managed to take possession of it and gain control of it in 1434, thanks to the political ambitions of Cosimo il Vecchio.
This wealthy family had no noble or dynastic origin, but was able, gradually and without causing too much clamor, to make a successful social and economic climb.
The rich family had obtained their wealth mainly through the exchange of works of art and other business, conducted mainly with the State of the Church. In particular, they had become bankers of the pope and had, always with the latter, made an agreement for the monopoly of alum.
The Medici family was at the head of Florence for almost 350 years, interspersed with short periods of the Republic.
Who was able to distinguish himself within this time frame is Lorenzo the Magnificent, whose patronage has given a push and decisive incentives to the development of the artistic heritage for which the city is renowned today.
FLOOD IN THE FIRST AFTERNOON
Because of its foundation right around the banks of the Arno, floods are a phenomenon that has unfortunately often affected the beautiful Florence.
In particular, in 1966 this natural disaster violently struck the city and caused the death of 34 people.
In addition to the significant human loss, this violent penetration of water inexorably ruined or destroyed various works of art. Fortunately, this event captured international attention in a special way and after a short time a large number of volunteers from all over the world became active in the recovery and restoration of many works of great artistic value damaged.
A phenomenon that strongly marked Florence and the whole of Europe was the epidemic of the Black Death in 1348.
The infection spread rapidly and it is estimated that it caused a reduction in the population of the Tuscan chief town of a quantity between 40% and 60%.
The tragic moment was a great inspiration to Boccaccio, who in the Decameron best portrayed the destroyed and dispersed Florentine society due to the fear and pain caused by the epidemic.
Fashion in Florence
Speaking of made in Italy fashion began in Florence thanks to Giovanni Battista Giorgini in 1951.
In general, the city boasts a thriving high fashion industry with a centuries-old tradition. In fact, many of the most famous Italian Fashion Houses, reference points for the international scene, have been conceived and born in the Tuscan chief town. Among the famous designers who started their atelier in Florence, we find Gucci, Enrico Coveri, Roberto Cavalli, Salvatore Ferragamo, Patrizia Pepe, and many others.
Their luxury boutiques do not have a casual placement, they are all concentrated in an area that goes from Via De ‘Tornabuoni and Via di Vigna nuova, specifically called the luxury commercial district.
The close link between the city and Italian fashion is also evident from many initiatives related to fashion that are parallel hosted in Florence.
Firstly, in the capital, it has its headquarters in La Costume Gallery, the only Italian museum dedicated to the history of Italian fashion. Secondly, it is possible to admire the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum, where part of the collection of over 10,000 shoes produced by the Maison is displayed. Then, there are many events related to fashion activated by the city (like Pitti Immagine). Finally, in Florence, there are numerous fashion schools: Polimoda, Italian Academy, Leather School, and IED.
Food in Florence: what to eat
When planning a trip to Florence it often happens to be so fascinated and involved in how beautiful it is to see that you can’t give the right weight to what good there is to eat.
The food and wine culture of the city is strong and rich. Moreover, Florence can boast the birth of several of the most popular dishes of our cuisine, having meat as its main element.
Therefore, before going to visit the city, we advise you to inquire about the most typical of its restaurants, its food and its stalls have to offer.
Here are some of the tastiest food you will have the chance to taste in the Tuscan capital.
SANDWICH WITH LAMPREDOTTO
We suggest you not only traditional dishes of the Sunday lunch but also tasty street food.
A classic example of Florentine street food is the Panino con il lampredotto. The latter is one of the oldest dishes of the Tuscan tradition and includes a sandwich fills with offal obtained from the abomasum, a part of the digestive tract of cattle, called its lampredotto.
Furthermore, the lampredotto is carefully seasoned with green sauce, salt, pepper and a pinch of spicy.
Although the raw materials may not be exciting at all, the flavor of this dish is unique and easily appreciated.
Historically this particular sandwich was born in 1400 as poor food and was sold by street vendors on carts. This tradition has been partly maintained: even today on the streets of Florence you can find lampredottai, which sell the dish inside small kiosks.
Remaining on the subject, the second dish of which we speak is the Florentine tripe, which is obtained from the waste of slaughtered meats.
The succulent dish is one of the cornerstones of the popular local cuisine and it seems to have origins in the same period of the sandwich with lampredotto.
Always considered a poor dish, the tripe originally included the dressing of various offal with a special mix of aromas. To date, the recipe has been changed slightly and includes the addition of tomato and grated parmesan
Also, in this case, there were special vendors to take care of the sale of the dish, the tripe makers, who today have moved to banquets and sell the dish in the markets.
CROSTINI DI FEGATO
An appetizer to which the Florentines cannot give up, a strong and succulent opening of the famous Sunday lunch, are liver crostini.
A dish that its goodness and its unique flavor has become an integral part of the gastronomic tradition of all of central Italy, but which originated in the splendid city.
Tasting it is a real experience that will be difficult to escape, because the dish is masterfully offered by any restaurant of traditional cuisine where you can go during your stay.
Even of Roman origin, the main component of the dish is the chicken livers that are delicately blended into the chianti vin santo.
The latter is further flavored with fine chopped capers, anchovy fillets, and broth.
Even the bread is not chosen randomly. Tradition has it that the Florentine whisk is used, a bread having a shape similar to a baguette, which can be dipped in broth, left natural or toasted.
In Florence, as has already clearly emerged, treating meat in all its parts is truly an art and is celebrated like a work present in the Uffizi gallery.
Among the main courses to be tasted absolutely we have the Peposo dell’Impruneta.
This stew takes its name from the rich amount of pepper added to it and from the place called Impruneta, situated among the verdant hills of Florence.
Moreover, this long-cooking course requires that the meat is blended into a full-bodied red wine, usually the classic Chianti.
The Florentine steak is probably the queen of Tuscan cuisine, perhaps even of all Italian meat dishes. In other words, it is certainly the bone, the Chianina beef and the height that must not fall below 4 fingers.
Another distinctive element, which not everyone is able to appreciate, it’s his cooking. In fact, the steak should be cooked in a way that maintains a rose brilliant in its interior.
WINE IN FLORENCE: 5 BEST WINES
As we anticipated, Florence is also famous for its food and wine culture.
In particular, the vineyards and wineries that arise in its surroundings are deeply intertwined with the Florentine tradition.
The ancient bond does not depend only on the goodness of its grapes, but also on the profound financial support that this activity has always represented for the city and the region. Even today, Tuscan wine is among the most exported from Italy and appreciated all over the world.
Specifically, in the surroundings of Florence there are two DOCG (Chianti and classic Chianti), five DOC (the Bianco dell’Empolese, the Colli dell’Etruria Centrale, the Pomino, the Vinsanto del Chianti and the Vinsanto del Chianti Classico) and three IGT (Alta Valle della Greve, Central Tuscany, and Tuscany)
Now let’s see some more details.
It is said that Chianti Classico has very ancient origins and dates back to the early Middle Ages.
In reality this type of wine, as we know it, was born around 1300 and is today produced by almost 400 wineries.
At the base of the Chianti Classico we find the Sangiovese grape, whose vines extend over an area of about 72,000 hectares between Florence and Siena.
It is a wine rich in organoleptic properties, with a sweet, dry and deep red colored taste.
Furthermore, the precious liquid is ably enriched with hints of wild berries.
WHITE OF EMPOLESE
Empolese White is one of the few really appreciated white wines produced in the region.
This particular quality of Trebbiano has a straw yellow color and has an aftertaste very similar to the Vin santo.
The grapes through which it is produced are decidedly later than those of red wines, but the distinctive taste and balanced chemical-physical characteristics of this white wine derive from the prolonged maturation on the plant.
Pomino Bianco is made from grapes found in vineyards located in the northeastern area of Tuscany, about 40 km north-east of Florence.
The vines that occupy the area were imported from France (specifically from Burgundy) in 1855. Precisely for this reason, the grape at the base of Pomino is mainly corresponding to the Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio typology.
The aroma of this wine, which is intense, bitter and ample depends in particular on the climate in the area. Furthermore, Pomino Bianco has a straw-white color, with greenish reflections, and delicate and pleasant smell.
THE HIGH VALLEY OF THE GREVE RED
Always produced in the province of Florence, the Alta Valle della Greve Rosso has a special coloring, ranging from violet to ruby.
The fruity aroma that distinguishes this particular wine is also perceptible by its fragrance. Moreover, its taste is fresh and balanced, rightly tannic.
VINSANTO DEL CHIANTI
The Chianti Vinsanto is produced in the same area of origin as the Chianti region, through the use of two different qualities of grapes: the Tuscan Trebbiano and the Malvasia.
It is characterized by a dry, velvety flavor and pronounced roundness. Its color is straw yellow, tending to amber.
Moreover, for these properties, it can be perfectly combined with fruit and desserts
Wedding In Florence
Florence is frequently chosen to host weddings, probably because the city is considered among the most romantic in Italy and, perhaps, in the world.
Usually in the capital the celebration of the civil ceremony takes place in the Palazzo Vecchio, a symbol of the municipal power of the city. Inside the beautiful building, it is possible to choose, according to your needs, between the Sala Rossa, the Sala di Lorenzo and the Salone de ‘Cinquecento.
An outdoor alternative for your civil ceremony is the Rose Garden, an exceptionally beautiful park located on the hill of San Miniato.
As for the sacred rite, numerous splendid churches stand in Florence. Among the favorites for weddings, we find the Basilica of Santa Croce, the Basilica of Santo Spirito and the Basilica of San Miniato.
How to get to Florence
Florence is well connected by various means of transport.
First of all, the Florence Amerigo Vespucci airport ensures that the city is connected not only to Italy but to the whole of Europe.
Secondly, the Tuscan capital is at the center of the state railway network. So its stations, Florence Santa Maria Novella and Florence Campo di Marte, are traveled by both regional trains and high-speed trains Freccia or Italo, through which it is possible to the other most important Italian cities directly and quickly.
Finally, Florence is also a fundamental node in the Italian motorway network. In particular, the A1 has four exits around the city and the A11 has been designed to facilitate the movement between Florence, Pisa, and Livorno.
It is possible to go to the Tuscan capital through the motorway network by car or by bus, such as Flixbus.
Accommodation in Florence: the 5 best choices
One of the main sources of well-being for the Florentine economy is tourism. Precisely because of this awareness the city and its surroundings are well equipped and able to offer visitors many proposals for different accommodation, able to grasp the needs of each.
THE CASTLE OF VOLOGNANO
Among the soft hills on the outskirts of Florence we find the wonderful Castello di Volognano. An enchanting and deeply Renaissance structure, equipped with numerous comforts and pleasures, such as a swimming pool and an internal cellar.
A wonderful choice for your stay and a magical location for weddings. Indeed, the furnishings of the Castle blend modern and traditional design and in its elegant interior it is possible to participate in interesting tastings.
FLORENCE GOLDEN CAMPING
Florence Camping in Town allows you to camp more or less luxuriously right in the middle of the wonderful city. Furthermore, the property features a swimming pool, a barbeque area and organizes excursions and tours.
The campsite is located near the Ponte Vecchio, on the banks of the Arno, and allows you to choose between three different accommodations: the Superior Bungalow, the Chalet or the Piazzola.
The Portrait Firenze is elegant and modern hotel, whose furniture is mainly handmade, especially recommended for those traveling as a couple.
The suites it offers are equipped with every comfort and entertainment system, such as an iPad, a coffee machine and a flat-screen TV.
Furthermore, the Caffè dell’Oro bistro the restaurant is located inside, run by a Michelin-starred chef, who offers special and original dishes.
Plus Florence is a hostel located near the Santa Maria Novella station.
Its dormitories are equipped with free WI FI and flat-screen TVs. Furthermore, staying in the structure allows access to a fitness area and, in winter, a wellness area, with a Turkish bath, sauna, and indoor pool.
THE NINE MUSE GUESTHOUSE
Le Nove Muse Guesthouse is a Bed & Breakfast with air-conditioned rooms and free Wi-Fi, in which there are only 4 rooms.
The property is near the Central Market and offers smart rooms with TV and private bathroom.
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