Florence Flights and Travel Guide

Florence

General Information

Firenze

11.25690130

43.76873240

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Florence - Introduction

Florence is located in the northwest of Italy and is the capital city of the region of Tuscany. Florence lies along the Arno River, below the wooded foothills of the Apennines. It has a population of around 400,000 inhabitants, with additional 200,000 in the suburban area.

The city has rich artistic and architectural treasures and is considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Many of the most important European artists lived or worked in Florence. The historic center of the city was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1982.

Florence was a center of medieval trade and finance and was ruled by the Medici family for centuries.

The historical part of the city is quite small and easily manageable on foot, and it is here that most of the city’s attractions are located.

Florence is never short of visitors, any time of the year. The summer time is busiest so consider coming in early summer or early autumn when the weather is most pleasant and the crowds are a little smaller.

Apart from the architectural and artistic marvels Florence also offers peaceful parks, excellent cuisine, and wonderful shopping.

Next: Florence Climate »

Florence - Climate

Florence has a temperate climate with four distinctive seasons. The summers are dry, and the peak summer months of July and August can be very hot, with temperatures around 31°C. Spring with its warm and dry weather is the most pleasant period. The winters are cool to cold and often wet with January average temperature between 1 and 10°C. Early winter usually brings short rainy season. Snow is rare in Florence. The warmest month is July, the coolest is January and the rainiest is November.

January average temperature 5.5 deg Celsius, 73.7 mm rainfall
February average temperature 6.6 deg Celsius, 68.6 mm rainfall
March average temperature 10 deg Celsius, 81.3 mm rainfall
April average temperature 14 deg Celsius, 78.7 mm rainfall
May average temperature 18 deg Celsius, 73.7 mm rainfall
June average temperature 22 deg Celsius, 55.9 mm rainfall
July average temperature 24 deg Celsius, 49.6 mm rainfall
August average temperature 24 deg Celsius, 76.2 mm rainfall
September average temperature 20.5 deg Celsius, 78.7 mm rainfall
October average temperature 15.5 deg Celsius, 88.9 mm rainfall
November average temperature 10 deg Celsius, 111.8 mm rainfall
December average temperature 6 deg Celsius, 91.4 mm rainfall

Next: Florence Getting There »

Florence - Getting There

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PLANE

Florence ’s airport is Amerigo Vespucci 6 km northwest of the city. It handles a small number of European and domestic flights and has good connections to the city. It can be reached by a 15 minute ride with a taxi or by a ‘Fly by bus’ service costing around €4 one way operating from 5:30 am – 8:30 pm every half hour then afterward every hour. However, most intercontinental air travel goes through Rome or Milan.

Other major airport in vicinity include Pisa 's Galileo Galilei airport where most of the visitors to Florence fly. Pisa airport is 80-minutes train ride away from Florence.

TRAIN

Florence is a major railway hub. The main station is Firenze Santa Maria Novella located on the edge of the historic part of town. From the station you can catch a direct train to almost any direction. The most convenient way of reaching Florence from abroad or from other Italian cities is by train.

 

Getting Around

WALKING

Most of the major tourist attractions are within easy walking distance of each other. Walking is the best way of getting around. You can see many beautiful sights and take in the city spirit.

CAR

Much of the city center is restricted to traffic. Renting a car is only useful for exploring the countryside as most of the downtown area is accessible only to locals with properly marked vehicles.

BICYCLE & MOTORBIKE

Bikes and motorbikes are common in Florence and very useful.

TAXI

Taxis cannot be hailed in the street and there is a waiting list. So ask in your hotel or restaurant to call one for you in advance.

BUS

Tickets are sold at tobacconists and at vending machines. You can get a 1-hour, a 2-hour or a 24-hour ticket.

Next: Florence Activities »

Florence - Activities

DRINKING COFFEE

Drinking coffee in Italy is an art. You can order a cup of your favorite brand of coffee and admire the city life and its magnificent architecture. Remember, though, the cafés have different prices depending on where you decide to drink your coffee. Locals go for the cappuccino ‘al banco’ – drinking at the counter which is much cheaper than drinking at a table.

 

BOBOLI GARDENS

Take a stroll in Boboli gardens, enjoy the splendid view and have a cup of coffee in the café.

 

PANORAMA

Treat yourself to a magnificent panorama of the city of Florence from the Piazzale Michelangelo. It is a top tourist attraction easily reached by foot via the stairs Rampe di San Niccolò. The stairs are on the south bank of the River Arno in front of the national library. The view of the city is especially beautiful at night.

Next: Florence Attractions »

Florence - Attractions

SANTA MARIA DEL FIORE (IL DUOMO)

Address: Piazza del Duomo
Open: Monday – Saturday: 10:00 am – 5:30 pm; Sunday: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Santa Maria del Fiore, the world’s fourth largest cathedral, also known as the Duomo di Firenze, is the architectural jewel of Florence and the symbol of the city. The cathedral was built on the site of a Roman basilica. Works begun in 1292 and it took almost 150 years to complete the cathedral. Its most notable feature is Brunelleschi’s dome which is a masterpiece of the Renaissance architecture. The self-supporting dome was completed in 1436 and is now a popular tourist attraction offering a beautiful panorama of the city.

 

PONTE VECCHIO

Address: Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio is the oldest and the most famous bridge over the River Arno. It is the only Florentine bridge to survive WW II. It is believed to have been built in Roman times and was originally made of wood. After a flood in 1345 it was rebuilt in stone. The design is attributed to Taddeo Gaddi. The bridge has always been home to merchants and shops. In 1565 the famous ‘Vasari Corridor’ was built above it. This was the secret Medici’s walkway. In 1593 the butchers were evicted from the bridge because of too much noise and stench. The shops were then taken by gold merchants.

 

UFFIZI GALLERY

Address: Loggiato degli Uffizi 6
Phone (booking): +39 0552 3885 and +39 055 294 883
Email:
direzione.uffizi @ tin.it
Web: www.polomuseale.firenze.it/english/musei/uffizi
Open: Tuesday – Sunday: 8:15 am – 6:50 pm; Monday: closed.

The Uffizi is one of the world’s most famous fine art museums with a superb collection of Renaissance paintings and sculptures including the works of Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian and Caravaggio.
The paintings are arranged in chronological order from the 13th to the 18th centuries and include some of the most famous and representative paintings of Italian, and in particular Tuscan. In addition, there are also prominent sections devoted to Flemish, French, Dutch and German painters. The waiting lines for the tickets are usually very long. It is not uncommon to wait for hours. A smart thing to do is call and reserve tickets in advance.

 

PALAZZO VECCHIO / PALLAZZO DELLA SIGNORIA

Address: Piazza della Signoria
Open: daily: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm; except Thursday:   9:00 am – 2:00 pm

Palazza Vecchio is the town hall of Florence and the most important civil building in the city. For centuries it was the symbol of the city and its political center. The construction begun in 1299 but several enlargements followed in 1343, 1495 and the last one in the 16 th century. This fortress-palace has a massive gothic face with crenels. It overlooks the Piazza della Signoria where the famous David statue by Michelangelo is located. On your visit be sure to check the Salone dei Cinquecento, the study of Francesco I, the room of the Elements and the Sala dei Gigli. Do not forget to visit the upper balcony which offers a beautiful view of the city.

 

SANTA CROCE

Address: Piazza Santa Croce
Open: Monday – Saturday: 9:30 am – 5:30 pm; Sunday: 1:00 pm – 5:30 pm

This elegant Franciscan basilica is one of the most elegant and aesthetical churches in town. It has a distinctive green and white marble façade by the architect Matas. The interior is marked by Grotto’s frescoes. The church contains the remains of some of the most famous Italian intellectuals, artists and religious figures including Dante, Michelangelo, Machiavelli and Galileo.

 

GALLERIA DELL’ ACCADEMIA

Address: Via Ricasoli, 60
Open: Tuesday – Saturday: 8:30 am – 6:50 pm; Sunday: 8:30 am – 8:00 pm

The Academy Gallery houses splendid paintings and sculptures; the most famous feature is of course the original Michelangelo’s David. The statue’s superb beauty draws large masses of visitors. The gallery also houses other works by Michelangelo for example the ‘Slave’ series. The gallery also houses a magnificent collection of 13 th to 16 th century paintings.

 

BOBOLI GARDENS

Address: Piazza de` Pitti
Open: daily: 9:00 am – 5:30 pm

The gardens, situated on the south bank of the River Arno, represent a relaxing escape from the city’s crowds and summer heats. The gardens were laid out by the Medicis in the 16 th century and were opened to public in 1766. There are formal gardens as well as wilder parts where cypress trees grow. The gardens are dotted with fine statues, ponds and fountains. There is also the Museo delle Porcellane and an 18 th century Kaffeehaus where you can enjoy a cup of coffee. The summit of the Forte di Belvedere has an open area from where you can get a beautiful panorama of the Tuscan countryside.

Next: Florence Restaurants »

Florence - Restaurants

Florence is famous for the tasty and wholesome Tuscan cuisine, based on simple natural ingredients.

Olive oil is revered here and virtually always present on the table. It is eaten as a dip with various vegetables; it is used in cooking and for making salads.

A famous Tuscan specialty is Fiorentina steak, a massive T-bone usually weighing no less than 800 grams. Most famous Tuscan soup is ‘ribolitta’, made of bread, vegetables and red cabbage.

Italy is widely known for pizza and pizzerias can be found almost everywhere. Florentine pizza usually has thinner chrispy crust, whereas the traditional Napolitan pizza is thicker. As a general rule, restaurants located closer to the historic part of the town are more expensive. The closer to the center, the more expensive they are.

For budget eating there is pizza sold by weight or caffès displaying a ‘Primi’ card in the window where you can eat pasta and other dishes at reasonable prices.

Numerous caffè and pasticcerie sell delicious sandwiches.

And remember. Restaurants have separate prices for food to go, food eaten standing up, and food eaten sitting down.

Do not forget about the 'gelato', Italian ice cream which comes in many flavors and is considered the best in the world. Many bars make their own ice cream and offer some unusual flavors.

Next: Florence Events »

Florence - Events

EXPLOSION OF THE CART

Date: Easter Sunday
Location: Piazza del Duomo

This major festival is celebrated in front of the Duomo and is said to bring good luck to the city. A cart full of fireworks is pulled by two white oxen from Via del Prato to the Duomo. It is lit by a dove-shaped rocket left out of the cathedral by the archbishop during the Easter mass.

 

FESTIVAL OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST

Date: 24 June

The patron saint of the city is celebrated on this day with a procession in the morning and a fireworks display at 10:00 pm in the evening at Piazzale Michelangelo. The best place to watch the fireworks is from Ponte Santa Trinita.

 

COSTUME FOOTBALL GAME ( GIOCO DEL CALCIO STORICO )

Date: June 24
Location: Piazza Santa Croce

This lively festival is one of Florence’s major events. Football matches are played in 16 th century costumes. This is preceded by a historic parade through the streets of the town. The festivities are concluded by a fireworks display over Piazzale Michelangelo.

 

FIESOLE SUMMER FESTIVAL

Date: June - September
Location: amphitheatre of Fiesole, Rome

Dance, music and theatre shows are held throughout summer in the Roman amphitheatre of Fiesole. The festival has been running since 1948.

 

FLORENCE BIENNALE

Date: December
Location: Fortezza da Basso, Viale Strozzi 1
Web:
http://www.florencebiennale.org/home_eng.htm

Fortezza Basso hosts the International Arts festival every two years. It started in 1997 and has grown into an important cultural event where numerous fresh artists are presented without prejudice as to style, theme or school.

Next: Florence Night Life »

Florence - Night Life

Nightlife in Florence is mainly aimed at the middle-aged crowd.

Being a university city it also has an active student scene found around San Marco and Santo Spirito quarters.

The cultural scene offers classical concerts, opera and dance performances.

Even though Florence does not have a grand opera house like for example Milan, Rome or Venice – the city’s public theatres are certainly respectable and most major touring companies stop in Florence as well.

If you love classical culture visit Florence during the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, a prominent festival of opera and classical music which lasts from late April to early July.   The program is held in various theatres throughout the city: the Teatro Comunale, the Teatro Goldoni and other. Additional information on: http://www.maggiofiorentino.com/index_eng.shtml

Florence is not exactly a party town but you can nevertheless find many music and cocktail bars throughout town.

Next: Florence History »

Florence - History

PRE-20 TH CENTURY

The recorded history of Florence begun as Roman settlement, called Florentia, established in 59 BC for former Roman soldiers. Julius Cesar allocated the fertile land around the River Arno to his veterans. They built the typical Roman road system which can still be seen today in many Italian cities, and the Forum. During Roman times Florence was the most important city in Tuscany.

During early medieval times Florence was often attacked by tribes such as Goths, Ostrogoths and Longobards. The population was diminished to around 1,000 people. In the 6 th century peace returned under the Lombard rule. Population began to grow and commerce prospered. In the 9 th end 10 th centuries the city was flourishing culturally and economically. Many religious buildings were built and the construction of city walls begun in 1078. The city was ruled by an autonomous commune from 1115. The 13 th century was marked by internal feuds between Ghibellines pro-imperial) and Guelphs (pro-papal). Eventually the Guelphs founded their own government in 1250s. Florentine noblemen were driven out of the government. Florence democratized and became a commercial republic. With strong merchant base in wool and its own strong currency in gold – the florin; it gradually surpassed its rival Pisa.

In 1348 the plague killed half of the city’s population. In the second half of the 14 th century the Medicis were becoming more and more powerful and eventually became the papal bankers. Cosimo Medici became the ruler of Florence. He sponsored artists such as Donatello, Brunelleschi, and Filippo Lippi. Under Cosimo’s grandson, Lorenzo Medici, great development in art, music, and poetry was achieved. He sponsored artists and philosophers like Michelangelo, Boticelli and Da Vinci.

The Medicis went bankrupt in 1494 and lost their power. A Dominican monk Savonarola was elected as the head of the Repubic and led a harsh and puritan rule. He was very unpopular and was hanged and burned as a heretic six years later by the angry citizens. In the 16 th century the Medici clan regained power and returned to Florence. The city got its first Duke in1530. They ruled for the next 200 years, until the end of 18 th century. The grand Duchy of Tuscany was passed to the House of Lorena who ruled until 1859 when Florence was incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy in 1860. Until 1875 Florence was its capital until Rome took over.

MODERN (20TH CENTURY)

The 20 th century Florence thrived on tourism, finances, trade and heavy industry. The city was occupied by the Germans between 1943 and 1944 and was badly damaged during their retreat. All of the city’s bridges were blown up, except for Ponte Vecchio. In 1966 disaster struck again. The River Arno burst its banks and the city suffered devastating floods. Many of the art treasures were damaged.

RECENT

Today life is peaceful in Florence. The city is a living museum; its streets are full of art, history and culture. The constant influx of tourists keeps the city buzzing year round.

Next: Florence Etiquette »

Florence - Etiquette

Many churches in Italy contain significant works of art, however, they are still places of worship and care should be taken with appropriate dress and behavior. Short pants, skirts, sleeveless shirts, etc are a taboo in many churches throughout Italy. When touring churches, especially in the summer when you are not wearing long sleeves, it is advisable to carry a sweater or a scarf to cover bare skin while inside. Do not eat or drink in a church. Do not go in if a service is in progress and if you have a cellular phone, turn it off before entering.

Next: Florence Safety »

Florence - Safety

Florence is a very safe city, violent crime is rare. However, be careful of pickpockets who operate near major tourist attractions, in Stazione Santa Maria Novella and on public transport. Be extra cautious on bus 64 going to St. Peter’s Square.

Wear your bag with the strap across your chest, wear money belt and have only a small amount of money on you. Put the rest of the money in a hotel safe together with your passport and other valuables. Use plastic money and traveler’s checks.

Do not leave anything valuable in your car. If you rent a car make sure it has no specific markings.

Avoid walking alone in dark deserted alleys.

Women traveling alone usually do not experience any problems apart from unwanted attention from men. If they get too pushy, start talking about your husband, boyfriend or children even if you have none.

There are numerous street vendors selling fake Gucci sunglasses, Prada purses and Rolex watches. Be careful, however; if the Police catch you buying it, you can face a fine of up to € 10,000. If the item does not have the real brand name on it, it is okay to buy it.

Emergency phone numbers:

Police: 113
Carabinieri: 112
Urban Police (Vigili Urbani): 055 328 3333
Medical Assistance: 118

Next: Florence When To Go »

Florence - When To Go

It is wise to visit Florence during the low season: April to June and September to October. During these periods the prices are lower, temperatures are moderate and the city is not so crowded. In the peak period: July and August the crowds are huge and the temperatures are soaring.  

As far as the weather is concerned the best months for sightseeing are April, May, June, September, and October when the temperatures are most pleasant.

December can be also nice with cool sunny days and far fewer people around.

The biggest crowds are expected during the Easter and on August 12, which is a national holiday; and during August in general when most Italians have vacations and are on the move.

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