Filled with art, architecture and fabulous cuisine, Florence is universally known to be one of the most magnificent city in the world. Given the abundance of treasures in the historic city centre and that time is precious, knowing what to avoid in Florence can be as important as knowing what to see and do.
Florence is a small and walking city and can be visited in a day but not in a group of many people. The best thing you can do here, if you want to discover also non-touristic places, is to get a map, walk on your own and get lost for a bit.
Do not drive a car in the historic center of Florence. Parking is expensive and very hard to find, streets are too narrow and trying to find your destination can be truly frustrating. So, forget the car and walk, there is nothing better to do in Florence. The only reason you could rent a car should be for a day trip to the Tuscan countryside.
Obviously you can buy Italian high-heeled shoes, but seriously don’t wear them while touring the city. Florence’s narrow streets with cobblestone sidewalks are very challenging. On the other hand, don’t wear your flip-flops either. Make a little effort and remember that you’re not at the beach, you’re visiting a city of art.
While there are replicas of The David in Florence (the most famous is in front of Palazzo Vecchio), the original statue is located in the gorgeous Accademia Gallery. Nothing compares to see the Michelangelo’s marble masterpiece in person, so arrange online for the tickets to skip the queue outside and go straight to see The David.
Think Italian is similar to Spanish? Wrong. Very wrong. These two languages of Latin origins have similar words but are different. You can’t use the words “gracias” (thanks) or “por favor” (please), instead of “grazie” and “per favore”, you’re not in Sevilla or Madrid.
The best thing to do to avoid lines is to book tickets online. Except for a couple of months in the winter, tourists in Florence spend a lot of time in queues, sometimes you wait for two or three hours before entering the Uffizi. Be smart: don’t forget to book ahead online for tickets for the museum for a small fee. Once in Florence, you will bypass the queue.
While Boboli Garden is the most famous garden in Florence, the views of the city are better from Bardini. This smaller garden is filled with flowers, statues, fountains and there are only few tourists. This is one of the coolest place to admire Florence’s panorama away from the crowds, even better than the touristic Piazzale Michelangelo.
The huge food market is the place to be for those who want to buy something typical. Central Market located in San Lorenzo neighborhood has been recently renewed and hosts restaurants and bars, and is the perfect shopping place if you’re looking for wine, olive oil and Tuscan gastronomy.
Avoid the touristic restaurants and wander down the narrow streets to find cafes and wine bars frequented by locals. The best neighborhood to find excellent Tuscan food is Oltrarno, the area on the left bank of the Arno river. The food is better and prices are more wallet-friendly.
Don’t schedule every second of your trip and make sure to leave time for relaxing and unexpected moments such as festivals, free night at museums, gastronomy events, etc. The city’s tourism offices maintain lists of current free openings and events.
Remember: Italians don’t drink cappuccinos at lunch or dinner. Cappuccino is gorgeous but is only for breakfast. Don’t make the mistake to order it with a plate of pasta. Forget it and opt for a mineral water or an Italian wine.
If you are up for a good climb and breathtaking vistas but mostly if you hate the lines, the best option is to avoid the Duomo and go straight to Old Palace that offers spectacular views.
Ponte Vecchio is undoubtedly the most famous bridge of Florence, but for those who are into amazing sunsets, Ponte Santa Trinita is way better. Just one bridge to the west of Ponte Vecchio, Santa Trinita offers terrific views over the famous old bridge. Romantic, beautiful and without crowds, this bridge is the perfect place for the last moments in Florence.