Florence: The city of Renaissance
The birthplace of Renaissance, Florence is the epitome of cultural dynamics and artistic beauty. Florence boasts of being the home of numerous famous personalities including Giovanni Cimabue, Dante Alighieri, Lorenzo the Magnificent (the most famous of the Medicis, 1449-1492), Leonardo da Vinci (artist, 1452-1519), Michelangelo Buonarroti (artist, 1475-1564), and Francesco Guicciardini (historian, 1483-1540). Along with UNESCO world heritage sites and numerous sculptures and monuments, Florence is rightly the tourism hub of Italy.
10 Key Things about Florence, Italy
1. History of Florence
Florence’s origin can be traced back to the Roman Empire, and later, after a long period as a flourishing trading and banking commune. Florence is a pivotal point of European cultural scene for it was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Interestingly, almost all the writers and poets in Italian literature of the golden age are in some way connected with Florence, leading ultimately to the adoption of the Florentine dialect, above all the local dialects, as a literary language of choice.
Florentine bankers had financed the English kings during the Hundred Years War and they similarly financed the papacy, including the construction of their provisional capital of Avignon and, after their return to Rome, the reconstruction and Renaissance embellishment of Rome.
Arguably, the most important noble family in history, the Medici boasts of the likes of Lorenzo de’ Medici, who was considered a political and cultural mastermind of Italy in the late 15th century. Two members of the family were popes in the early 16th century: Leo X and Clement VII.
2. Night Life in Florence
In 2013, Florence was listed as the second best world city by Condé Nast Traveler. Florence is one of the best cities in Italy to go out and enjoy the night. Whether you are looking for a night making new friends or you are planning on relaxing with a glass of wine, Florence has the spots for you.
You’ll want to visit the Blob Club for a combination of relaxation and partying. For a funky and fun atmosphere, Mayday provides the perfect environment to relax and meet new people. Other famous clubs open well into the night are: Moyo, Tenax, YAB, Full Up, Flo’ Lounge Bar, The Friends Pub, Space Electronic Discoteca, Mayday,and Public House.
Via ghibellina is a lively street any day of the week with some popular student bars and restaurants.
Florence is one of the best cities in Italy to go out and enjoy the night. Not only is it incredibly safe, but it also features some fun locales where visitors can experience going out European-style.
3. Safety in Florence
Florence, like other major tourist destinations of Europe, requires tourists to be smart. It is advisable to avoid side-streets and to take well-lit roads. Whenever you can take larger well-lit roads and explore the tiny (often really pretty) isolated streets only during the morning/day. Don’t be a victim and try to pay attention to what you are doing especially in the busy center in areas like the San Lorenzo markets, Santa Maria novella station and anywhere where tourists congregate. Don’t carry all of your cards/cash/documents with you. Pick-pocketing is a real issue if you are not careful. Though it is safe to travel across the city but trusted company is always advisable.
4. Living Expenses in Florence
Florence is an expensive city for travelers in particular. A one bedroom apartment in the city center is USD 752/month and outside of city is USD 567/month. A three bedroom apartment in the city center is USD 1512/month and outside of city is USD 1018/month.
Buying an apartment, on an average, is USD 430 per square feet in the city center and outside of center is USD 288 per square feet.
There are a number of hotels in Florence, such as Grand Hotel Cavour, Hotel David, Portrait Firenze, Rapallo Hotel, Hotel Brunelleschi, Hotel Restaurant La Scaletta and Hotel Lungarno.
5. Cuisines in Florence
Tuscan food is one of the famous reflections of Italian culture. It is simple and abundant with local produce, grilled meats, and mellow cheeses. Beef Steak Florentine, many versions of roasted or wine-braised game such as boar, deer and rabbit and thick and hearty soups cover the table of a typical Tuscan meal. Plus this is the home of Chianti wine.
The recipes in Florentine cookery range from the original and traditional to more recent arrivals and innovations. At the heart of Florentine cookery lie some fundamental ingredients: bread, extra-virgin olive oil, which is without any doubt the best even for frying, grilled meat; Florentine steaks of beef, roasted or wine-braised game such as boar, deer and rabbit and lastly, wine itself.
Food and wine have long been important staples of the economy. Florence is the most important city in Tuscany, one of the great wine-growing regions in the world. The Chianti region is just south of the city, and its Sangiovese grapes figure prominently not only in its Chianti Classico wines but also in many of the more recently developed Supertuscan blends.
Some of the famous dishes of the region are Lasagne al Forno, Zuppa di cipolle (Onion soup), Ravioli nudi (Naked ravioli), Pappa al Pomodoro(Bread and tomato soup), Pasta e fagioli (Pasta with beans), Ribollita (Vegetable and bread soup), Brodo (Meat broth), Stracciatella (Egg soup, Pappardelle sulla lepre – Pappardelle with hare sauce,Panzanella – Bread salad), Trippa all fiorentina (Florentine-style tripe), Uova Frittellate-o-Affrittellate (Fried eggs), Frittata di Carciofi (Artichoke omelette) etc.
Florence is expensive in comparison to other tourist friendly cities. A meal for one at an inexpensive restaurant costs roughly USD 17 and a meal for two at a mid-range restaurant costs USD 62, which is expensive for any standards.
6. Statistics of Florence
It is well spread out over an area of 02.41 km square (39.54 sq mi), resulting in a population density of 3,700/km square.
Florence has 381,037 people. Median age in Florence is 38.
7. Public Transport in Florence
The principal public transport network within the city is run by the ATAF and Li-nea bus company, with tickets available at local tobacconists, bars and newspaper stalls. Individual tickets, or a pass called the Carta Agile with multiple rides (10, 21 or 35), may be used on ATAF & Li-nea buses, Tramvia, and 2nd class local trains but only within city railway stations.
The main bus station is next to Santa Maria Novella railway station. Trenitalia runs trains between the railway stations within the city, and to other destinations around Italy and Europe. Long distance 10 km buses are run by the SITA, Copit, CAP companies. The transit companies also accommodate travelers from the Amerigo Vespucci Airport, which is five kilometers west of the city Centre, and which has scheduled services run by major European carriers.
Cars without permits are allowed to enter after 7.30 pm, or before 7.30 am. The rules shift during the tourist-filled summers, putting more restrictions on where one can get in and out.
A one way ticket for local transport is roughly USD 1.34 and a monthly pass costs roughly USD 40.
Railway station – Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station is an international railway station in Florence and is used by more than 59 million people every year.
The central railway station is located about 500 metres northwest of the Piazza del Duomo. There are two other important stations: Campo Di Marte and Rifredi.
Airport – There are two major airports that cater to Florence. Peretola is one in the Tuscany region, the other being Galileo Galilei International Airport in Pisa.
Pollution in Florence– Florence is a clean city. The greenery in and around Florence is a contributing factor. The pollution index is as low as 35.63 versus the likes of 85 for Delhi. The quality of water and air is particularly good with the air pollution index stated at a modest 37.35 and water pollution index at an even lower 25. In an effort to reduce air pollution and car traffic in the city, a multi-line tram network called Tramvia is under construction.
8. Weather of Florence
The best time to travel to Florence would be in September or June. July in summer is the hottest month with an average temperature of 25 degrees Celsius (77°Fahrenheit) and the coldest is month January with 6 degrees Celsius (43°Fahrenheit). The wettest month is November.
Spring : Spring is a lovely, as the city begins to come alive and the pavement cafes bustle. The average highs of around 15°C in March, rising to a pleasant 23°C by the end of May, make Florence a delight for any traveler.
Summer : June, July and August are the peak tourist months in Florence. If one is visiting Florence in the summer, one should be prepared to swelter. Average daily highs range from 28-31°C but of course, since that’s an average, it can be much hotter at times.
Autumn : September and October are mild in Florence, and these are popular months to visit, allowing one to make the most of the city. Daily high of around 21-25°C is pleasant, but nights become cooler as the season progresses, so take some layered clothing.
Winter : Florence’s winters are cold and wet. Between December and February one can expect daily highs of around 10-12°C, but nights often hover only just above freezing. There’s plenty of rain, so one needs a waterproof jacket or an umbrella if one wants to enjoy Florence during the winter.
9. Culture of Florence
Statistics from 2009 show, 87.46% of the population is Italian. Over 6,000 Chinese live in the city. Though the largest immigrant group (3.52%) comes from other European countries such as Romania and Albania, there are other nationalities too in Florence. 2.17% immigrants are from east Asia (mostly Chinese and Filipino), 1.41% from the Americas.
Florence has a legendary artistic heritage. Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio, forefathers of the Renaissance, Ghiberti and the Della Robbias, Filippo Lippi and Angelico; Botticelli, Paolo Uccello and the universal genius of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
Artists associated with Florence range from Arnolfo di Cambio and Cimabue to Giotto, Nanni di Banco, and Paolo Uccello; through Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Donatello and Massaccio and the della Robbia family; through Fra Angelico and Botticelli and Piero della Francesca, and on to Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Others include Benvenuto Cellini, Andrea del Sarto, Benozzo Gozzoli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Filippo Lippi, Bernardo Buontalenti, Orcagna, Pollaiuolo, Filippino Lippi, Verrocchio, Bronzino, Desiderio da Settignano, Michelozzo, the Rossellis, the Sangallos, and Pontormo. Artists from other regions who worked in Florence include Raphael, Andrea Pisano, Giambologna, Il Sodoma and Peter Paul Rubens.
10. Places to Visit in Florence
Things to do in Florence: Florence is known as the “cradle of the Renaissance” because of its monuments, churches, and buildings. The domed cathedral of the city, Santa Maria del Fiore, known as The Duomo, is the most famous structure. The nearby Campanile, the Baptistery buildings are also highlights. The dome, 600 years after its completion, is still the largest dome built in brick and mortar in the world. The historic centre of Florence was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1982. Despite the strong presence of Renaissance architecture within the city, traces of medieval, Baroque, and modern architecture can be found. The Palazzo Vecchio as well as the Duomo, or the city’s Cathedral, are the two buildings which dominate Florence’s skyline.
The River Arno, which cuts through the old part of the city, is as much a character in Florentine history as many of the people who lived there. The Piazza della Signoria is the location of a number of statues by other sculptors such as Donatello, Giambologna, Ammannati and Cellini, although some have been replaced with copies to preserve the originals.
Museums and Galleries: Florence contains numerous museums and art galleries where some of the world’s most important works of art are held. The city is one of the best preserved Renaissance centers of art and architecture in the world and has a high concentration of art, architecture and culture The Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence and also an art museum. Aside from these palaces and buildings, there are several others, including the Palazzo Rucellai, designed by Leon Battista Alberti between 1446 and 1451 and executed, at least in part, by Bernardo Rossellino; the Palazzo Davanzati, which houses the museum of the Old Florentine House; the Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali, designed in the Neo-Renaissance style in 1871; the Palazzo Spini Feroni, in Piazza Santa Trinita, a historic 13th-century private palace, owned since the 1920s by shoe-designer Salvatore Ferragamo; as well as various others, including the Palazzo Borghese, the Palazzo di Bianca Cappello, the Palazzo Antinori, and the Royal building of Santa Maria Novella.
The Uffizi is one of these; one of the most famous and important art galleries in the world, it has a very large collection of international and Florentine art. The gallery is articulated in many halls, cataloged by schools and chronological order. Engendered by the Medici family’s artistic collections through the centuries, it houses works of art by various painters and artists. The Vasari Corridor is another gallery, built connecting the Palazzo Vecchio with the Pitti Palace passing by the Uffizi and over the Ponte Vecchio. The Galleria dell’ Accademia houses a Michelangelo collection, including the David. It has a collection of Russian icons and works by various artists and painters. Furthermore, other museums and galleries include the Bargello, which concentrates on sculpture works by artists including Donatello, Giambologna and Michelangelo; the Palazzo Pitti, containing part of the Medici family’s former private collection. In addition to the Medici collection, the palace’s galleries contain many Renaissance works, including several by Raphael and Titian, large collections of costumes, ceremonial carriages, silver, porcelain and a gallery of modern art dating from the 18th century. Adjoining the palace are the Boboli Gardens, elaborately landscaped and with.
Things to do for Kids in Florence: Apart from such monuments, Florence contains numerous major squares (piazze) and streets Piazzale Michelangelo makes a fantastic first stop if you want to take in the beauty of Florence. Piazza della Repubblica is one of the hubs of Florentine life, and the antique carousel in the square is a fine way for young travellers to take a break from sightseeing. Explore the art museums of Florence in small doses with children, as it’s easy to be overwhelmed in the ever-crowded galleries. Michelangelo’s David at the Galleria dell’Accademia is a must, and a relatively short stop. Gelato is a not-so-secret weapon to help keep children smiling during a long day of touring. The Gucci Museo, home to an extensive collection chronicling the heritage of the luxury fashion house, now offers CreaKids, four educational itineraries and hands-on workshops designed to help children ages 5–12 understand the evolution and importance of fashion through the ages. The Museo Nazionale del Bargello is a lavish palazzo complete with vaulted ceilings and displays of arms and armour that will captivate budding historians.
Places Nearby: Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona e Campigna, straddling the Tuscan and Emilia-Romagna border, is 25 miles away, and easily reached by bus, although a car offers more flexibility. About 90 minutes away by train, Lucca is much smaller and less touristy than Florence. See Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, oval in shape because the houses are built into the walls of the Roman amphitheatre. Here, in 56BC, Julius Caesar, Pompey and Crassus formed the first ever coalition government to rule Rome from Piazza Garibaldi, the main street has many bars where you can take a light lunch enjoying the casual atmosphere, before walking out of town back past Piazza Garibaldi to the tree-lined avenue of the park, Giardini Parterre, with magnificent views across the Valdichiana. Stroll down through the steep narrow streets to Piazza della Republica just after siesta as the town comes to life and enjoy a possible free wine tasting at Enoteca Molesini. Stay for the night in nearby Fattoria Bassetto, a former Benedictine convent, which is now a budget hotel and hostel. In one room there is a black-and-white photograph of the family who still own it, taken in the 1950’s by Cecil Beaton. The owners are lovely. Arrange a cooking class at a nearby farm, and don’t return to Florence! If tired of museums and crowds, 24 hours in Barga, with its twisting lanes, artistic residents and incredible views, will refresh your soul. Flower-filled stairways lead up to the cathedral, and a vista over the tiles and verdant valley towards the Apuan Alps. There are plenty of trattorie to sample delicious regional fare. Barga can be reached from Florence by train but it is simpler and quicker to drive, around two hours. Stay in the serene Villa Moorings or one of the manyagriturismi.
Offbeat: The idea of graffiti in a Renaissance city whose historical centre is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site may seem troublesome, but locally based French artist Clet Abraham, known as CLET, has found an ingenious way to inject a contemporary sense of irreverent whimsicality into Florence’s weighty artistic legacy. Using removable stickers, he transforms the ubiquitous city street signs into discrete works of art that have now become part of the local landscape. Make a visit to his studio in the San Niccolò neighborhood to talk with the artist, get one of the signs he has recuperated after the authorities have removed them, or check out the other work of the formally trained artist, which includes paintings and sculptures. In order to really go out on a limb, attempt driving on the crazy city streets of Florence. Traffic lines and rules, don’t exist here.
In order to get to this beauty you’ll have to hop a train to Lastra Singa or rent a bike and ride the length of La Cascine Park. Upon reaching the end of Cascine there is a small bridge, Ponte dell’Indiano, which you can pass over and head straight into Parco Renai.
Author’s Conclusion: Florence is a tourist destination that not only is known for its sculptures, galleries, monuments and art but also for its food, culture, heritage, fashion and beauty. Florence should be on every travelers “go-to” list. There is no way Florence will seize to amaze one with its sheer awesomeness and warmth. Make sure your Europe tour features Florence as a destination.
|Area||102.41 sq.km (39.54 sq.mi)|
|Languages||Florentine (fiorentino), spoken by inhabitants of Florence and its environs, is a Tuscan dialect and the immediate parent language to modern Italian.|
|Currency||Euro ( 1 Euro = 1.12 USD) as on 31-Mar-2016
|Time Zone||CET (UTC+1)
|Driving||Drives on the Right|
|Helpline||Emergency:112 ; Medical:113|
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