Florence is one of Italy’s greatest cities and one of the world’s finest treasureis of art. It has been the cradle of many civilizations: from the ancient Etruscans up to the Victorian rediscovery of the Mediterranean pleasures; but, of course, the most important of them was the civilization of the Reinassens, the treasuries of which are held in Florence more than in any other Italian city.
The best times to go:
In terms of weather the best period goes from late March to the first half of June or from September to October. Unfortunately, the worst times to come are those when the most appealing traditional festivals are held: the Scoppio del Carro (a large fireworks display), for example, occurs on Easter morning and Florence always teems with tourists in this day. On 24th June, feast day of Florence’s patron saint (John the Baptist) is played the Calcio Storico ( Historic Soccer): it is more violent than the modern game and it is played by the teams of the four quarters of the historic centre. From May to September in the Florentine countryside there are many feasts, festivals and specially country fairs. Among them note the wine fair in Greve in Chianti in the first half September and the Festa dei Coltelli e del Ferro Battuto in Scarperia in late August.
Food & wine:
The best known speciality is the bistecca fiorentina,florentine-style steak, generally eaten blood-rare. Also try the panzanella: vegetables and soaked bread; the ribollita: vegetables and bread with pork rind; the lampredotto: sections of bovine intestine. A seasonal sweet served in September-October is the schiacciata con l’uva made with black wine grapes. Don’t forget to taste Florence’s excellent extra-virgin olive iol, the Chianti wine and the Vin Santo, a white dessert wine made with dried grapes and then allowed to ferment for 3-4 years.
Florence by night:
Take a toyr of the vinerie and cantinette sampling wine: usually the wine is good, prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is relaxed.
Places to see:
San Giovanni quarter:
Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore; Campanile di Giotto; Battistero di San Giovanni; Loggia del Bigallo; Palazzo Pazzi; Palazzo del Bargello; Badia Fiorentina; Palazzo Strozzi; Santa Trinità; Palazzo Davanzati; Mercato Nuovo; Ponte Vecchio; Palazzo Medici-Ricciardi; Piazza San Lorenzo; Biblioteca Medicea-Laurenziana; Cappelle Medicee; Piazza San Marco; Galleria dell’Accademia; Piazza della SS. Annunziata.
Santa Croce quarter:
Piazza della Signoria; Palazzo Vecchio; Loggia della Signoria; The Uffizi; Sant’Ambrogio; Campo di Marte; Santa Croce; Ponte delle Grazie; Palazzo Peruzzi; Casa Buonarroti (Michelangelo’s birthplace); Piazza dei Ciompi.
Santa Maria Novella quarter:
Santa Maria Novella; Piazza degli Antinori; Palazzo Corsi; Piazza de’Rucellai; Cappella Rucellai; San Pancrazio; Piazza Goldoni; Palazzo Corsini; Borgo Ognissanti; Cenacolo del Ghirlandaio; Parco delle Cascine.
Santo Spirito quarter:
Palazzo Pitti; Galleria Palatina; Appartamenti Reali; Giardino di Boboli; Santa Felicita; Via de’Bardi; Forte di Belvedere; Museo Bardini; Piazza Santo Spirito; Lungarno Guicciardini; Cappella Brancacci; San Miniato al Monte.