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Top 10 tips to save money in Florence

Here is my top ten tips to save some euros when visiting Florence: it's quite an expensive city for Italian standards, so let's pay attention to our wallet!

1 – save some money using the bus instead of taxi to move in Florence. Buy multiple tickets or “Carta Agile” to get 10 bus rides at the price of 8… and walk if you can, it’s free!

2- if you’re gonna visit several museums buy inclusive and multiple tickets.

3- Don’t book your visits, it usually has a charge. to avoid long waiting lines just wake up early and go in the early morning ;-)

4 – if you want to do wild shopping and you’re looking for the great Italian fashion brands, go to the outlets, the surroundings of Florence are full of outlets! (see this post for more info about Florence outlets!).

5 - take advantage of the sales: the best are in January-February and August-September. At the end of the sale season you can find up to 70% sales.

6- avoid pubs, restaurants and bars in the historical centre, they’re much expensive than the ones located in the other city neighbourhoods.

7 - Go to Happy Hours (from 18.30 to 20.00) to get drinks for less and to eat something for free.
8 – buy fresh and typical food in markets instead of shops, it’s surely cheaper and usually even the quality of products is better.

9 – if you have a car, don’t even try to drive or park in the historical (unless you have the microchip card) centre or park where’s forbidden: you’ll soon get a collection of fines, and Italian police won’t leave you in peace until you pay them, even if you live abroad.

10 – get information about special days and offers: 2 euro discount on cinemas on Wednesday, discount on museums tickets on special days, student fees (especially for architecture, arts and history students), special fees for groups.

Three good movies about Florence

Here are three movies that I really like: all those films had been shot in Florence, and that’s the only thing that they have in common! Different genres, different years, different styles… but all those movies represent an atmosphere, an aspect of Florence, and put the spotlight on some of the million different sides that this wonderful city can offer to the observer.

Hannibal (2001)
Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman, Ray Liotta, Giancarlo Giannini, Zeljko Ivanek, Frankie Faison, Francesca Neri.
Music by Hans Zimmer.
A classical thriller, the famous sequel of the silence of the lambs (then followed by Red Dragon), to discover the thrilling side of Florence.

The Stendhal Syndrome (la Sindrome di Stendhal)
Directed by Dario Argento
Starring: Asia Argento, Thomas Kretschmann, Marco Leonardi
Music by Ennio Morricone.
Another thriller, but in a totally different style: that’s Dario Argento with the great Ennio Morricone, that’s suspense and thrills in original Italian Style!

My Friends (Amici Miei)
Directed by Mario Monicelli
Starring Ugo Tognazzi, Gastone Moschin, Philippe Noiret, Duilio Del Prete, Adolfo Celi, Bernard Blier, Milena Vukotic, Silvia Dionisio, Music by Carlo Rustichelli.
A great italian director, Monicelli, with one of the best italian actor of the seventies, Ugo Tognazzi, and one of the best French actor, Philippe Noiret, in a bitter comedy that takes place in Florence, at the end of the 60s and the beginning of the 70s.
This film is about friendship, and about acting like a child even if you’re adult; four friends who organize together idle pranks (called zingarate, "gypsy shenanigans"). The jokes in this movie entered in the Italian culture and they’re now became a sort of piece of popular history.

10 Ten Things I Can't Live Without in Florence

1 . Pizza, bread and pastries at Pugi, the best bakery in Florence. You can find Pugi at:

P.zza S. Marco 10
Tel. 055 280981

Via S. Gallo 62/R
Tel. 055 475975

Viale De Amicis 49/R
Tel. 055 669666

2 . Meat! Big bloody steaks, that’s the masterpiece of Florence, and I love it!

3 . Celebrations for San Giovanni day (saint John), June 24th. Huge fireworks and lots of people in the streets.

4 . My bike. Forget your car in Florence, if you don’t want to waste time in traffic jams use bus, bikes or feet!

5 . Air conditioning. Summer in Florence is incredibly hot...

6. Shopping and hanging around in the city markets. My favourite one is Sant’Ambrogio: fruits and vegetables, meat, clothing, shoes, books, and more…

7 . Rock Bottom Records Shop. Here I buy food for my soul: a great selection of rock ‘n’ roll, beat, garage, punk, vinyl records, both new and second-hand, at reasonable prices.

8 . A compact umbrella, the one you can store in a bag. When it starts to rain, it could last forever :-(

9 . Sales! Fashion! Shopping! Sales in Florence are a jungle but I’m a beast!

10 . A cup of tea or a cappuccino with my friends at the Caffè La Loggia in via Pietrapiana, a cool and charming cafè with the best hazelnut cappuccino in the world.

Getting Married in Florence

Today it’s Valentine day so my post is dedicated to all the loving people of the world!

A Romantic wedding in Florence is a dream, and a lot of people come from all over the world to get married here.
There are several agencies that offer a complete wedding-planner service: you can get married in the suggestive Sala Rossa, the “red room” of the town-hall (Palazzo Vecchio), or in a church of any religion: Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and more.

Surely the most perfect place to have a romantic wedding in Florence is the church of San Miniato al Monte, an ancient Romanic church on the top of the green hills around the city, just a few meters away from Piazzale Michelangelo, where you can have a breath-taking view of the whole city.

Those agencies offers complete packages containing wedding, documents, interpreter, flowers, makeup and hairstyle for the bride, transportation, professional photographers, wedding reception, special travels for the couple, etc, etc…

Here are some useful links if you’re dreaming to get married in Florence:


Trippa and Lampredotto - Florence Street Food

Trippa (tripe) and Lampredotto are two dishes that perfectly represent the Florence popular culinary traditions, eating them is an experience you can’t miss.
Born from the street foods of artisans and workmen, tripe and lampredotto have been an important part of the Florentine tradition for almost one thousand years. Florence and Tuscany are famous for the meat, that is an important part of traditional cousine, and innards are very common, as in the past every piece of the animal was precious, even stomach, liver and stuff like that.
lampredotto sandwich

For those who might not have ever thought that these innards of the animal could even be eaten, the two most popular dishes are explained.
La trippa (tripe), is the part of the digestive organ found between the esophagus and the stomach of the cows. It can be prepared in many different ways, even if in Florence city it is mainly found cooked with tomato sauce (trippa alla fiorentina, you can find the recipe I usually use in this post), but I use to cook it also with mushrooms, with or without tomato sauce, or with tomato sauce and parmigiano reggiano cheese.

Tripe (Trippa)

Lampredotto (offal) also comes from the stomach of a bovine, but is more tender, thin and flat, and it’s not white, but light brown.


The meat is boiled in a broth of herbs and vegetables, then finely sliced and as served inside a sandwich. Salt and pepper, green sauce and hot sauce are the traditional toppings, and a glass of red wine is the perfect drink to match with lampredotto. You can also ask for “lampredotto bagnato”: a piece of the bread is soaked in the broth.
Lampredotto is sold in some typical lampredotto-stands, small wheeled-kiosks placed in the streets, where you can stop, take your sandwich and wine (in a plastic cup) and step away, we call this kind of stand “lampredottaio” or “trippaio”.

one of the lampredotto kiosks

The best lampredottaio in Florence are:

- Piazza de’ Cerchi (near Piazza della Signoria)

- Via Gioberti (near Piazza Beccaria)
- Piazza del Mercato Nuovo (Mercato del Porcellino)
- San Lorenzo Market (the stand is called “Nerbone”)
- Via del Verrocchio (behind Sant’Ambrogio market)

An anonymous reader of this blog suggests also those ones:

- piazza Tanucci (I agree!)
- via Benedetto Dei

A second anonymous reader suggested other good lampredotto kiosks:

- viale Giannotti (in front of the Coop supermarket)
- piazza delle Cure

Thanks to both those readers for the precious suggestions!


Top 10 things you can't miss in Florence

When you have an holiday in Florence an entire year wouldn’t be enough to see all the beautiful thing of Florence.
Here’s my decalogue of the most important cultural and architectural issues that you can’t really miss in your trip to Florence: the most important museums, churches, and suggestive corners of the city.
If you are well organized you can see all those things in about 4 intensive days.

1- Uffizi museum – masterpieces of Botticelli, Giotto, Cimabue, Masaccio, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello and many others.

2- Palazzo Pitti- it houses several minor collections in addition to those principal of the Medici family.

3- Piazzale Michelangelo – an incredibly beautiful panoramic view of Florence from the hillside, and a wonderful roman church nearby, San Miniato al Monte.

4- Market of San Lorenzo – the city market, with clothings, leather goods, typical food…

5- Galleria dell’Accademia and Michelangelo’s David… the masterpiece of Michelangelo, the statue of David, it’s here!

6- Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore – the cathedral of Florence, with the magnificent Brunelleschi dome.

7- Ponte Vecchio – how romantic! A bridge over the Arno river, sided with small ancient buildings which house traditional jewelery shops.

8- Oltrarno – a typical old neighbourhood with traditional shops, small hidden streets and beautiful fiorentine houses.

9- Santa Maria Novella church – a wonterful example of the early italian gothic style, that’s my favorite church!

10- Piazza della Signoria – probably the most famous view of Florence, with Palazzo Vecchio facing the square.

Firenze com'era Museum (Florence as it used to be)

I visited this museum during the European Heritage Day, a special day when all the museums are free for everyone.

The museum is located beside the Convento of the Oblate, accommodated in a building with a beautiful garden and a cloister. We had free entrance but usually the ticket is really cheap, only 2,70 euros.
The museum is on the ground floor of the building, and is made of two distinguished sections. The first is about the topographical museum: more than an topographical museum: it is a documented history of the representation of a city seen through the eyes of the citizens in the ages. Maps in the past were difficult to trace, obviously bird-eye photos didn’t existed yet, so it was hard to calculate exactly distances. Maps used to give not only information about the geography, but also about cities, activities, points of interest.

the cloister and garden of the museum

Here is exposed the ancient and famous Map of the Chain (“la pianta della catena”), called in that way it has a frame decorated with a chain.
It’s really not a plant… is not more a general view Florence, an axonometric projection realized at the end of 1400, and is really big, it takes the entire wall.
It’s so beautiful and painted with an incredible care for details; above all it’s a witness of how looked Florence during the renaissance: a densely inhabited large city, still with cultivations out of the town-walls, encircled from its walls studded with doors. Every single palace and church are faithfully reproduced and clearly recognizable: Palazzo Vecchio Santa Maria Novella, the Cathedral… Arno river slides and is still a city fulcrum of people and activity: you can see people on the riverside fishing, bathing, building a bridge…

the Map of the Chain ("Pianta della Catena")

Besides the Plant of the Chain the museum conserve some other ancient pieces: the keys of the doors of the city: the ones of Porta San Frediano, Porta Santo Spirito and Porta San Gallo, enormous keys with their leather bags; they were of property of a private collector, once he died the keys were given back to the city of Florence.

Others ancient maps and city representation of Florence are exposed in the museum. There are also paintings, that show various parts of the city and how they changed through the centuries. A beautiful painting that shows the public execution of Girolamo Savonarola in the Piazza della Signoria.

the keys of the doors of Florence

At the end of the room there’s also a plastic that represent the historical center of Florence how it was befor the reorgaziation made at the end of ‘800.

the plastic of the hystorical center bofore '800

In the second room of the museum are shown some archaeological artefacts found in the eighties, when piazza della Signoria had been re-pavemented: finally we can see some traces of the ancient roman Florence. The artefacts are few but interesting, and you can also find a really interesting plastic of Florence as it was in the roman age.

the plastic of Florence in the Roman Age


Piazzale Michelangelo and San Miniato al Monte

The Piazzale Michelangelo is surely one of the most beautiful places to visit in Florence Italy. Placed high on a green hillside overlooking the city, visitors can enjoy a breathtaking view of the whole city: you can spot the duomo, Palazzo Vecchio with its tower, Giotto’s bell-tower, the Arno river that flows and tear the city in two parts, with its bridges in sequence.
Then turn around and look at the green hills around you, with classic and elegant Tuscany villas and the remaining ancient walls of Florence.

Piazzale Michelangelo was built in 1869 and designed by architect Giuseppe Poggi, when Florence became the capital city of Italy (for a short period) and needed big, magnificent public spaces to represent the power of the newborn Reign of Italy.
A replica of Michelangelo's Statue of David stands in the centre of the plaza.

San Miniato al Monte

Near Piazzale Michelangelo there’s a wonderful Romanesque church, San Miniato al Monte, that’s so beautiful that lots of people from all over the world come here to get married. Beside the church there’s a monumental cemetery, and it’s surrounded with a nice small cypress forest where is such a pleasure to take a walk!

the wedding of a japanese couple in San Miniato al Monte

the monumental cemetery of San Miniato al Monte

You can reach Piazzale Michelangelo from the historical center with bus, number 12 or 13, it’s about a 15 minutes ride.

pictures of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

I took these pictures of Florence Cathedral (Santa Maria del Fiore) in a bright fresh morning of June 2008, just after a thick but quick rain, the air was clean and the sky was so bright... the big red silhouette of the dome was making a perfect contrast with the blue of the sky.
I always think that Filippo Brunelleschi did a great job building this dome!


Cathedral of Florence, Santa Maria del Fiore

The construction of the Duomo, the Cathedral called Santa Maria del Fiore, was started by Arnolfo di Cambio on the 8th September 1296. It is the fourth longest church in the world (after Saint Peter in Rome, Saint Paul in London and the Cathedral in Milan). In some experts' opinion, Arnolfo's project was quite different from the present building, but the outside walls undoubtedly are the same as those in the original plan. When Arnolfo died in 1310, there was a delay in the works. They however were started again in 1331, when the Guild of Wool Merchants took over the construction of the church. In 1334 Giotto was appointed ‘master’ of the works. He mainly attended to the building of the campanile (bell tower) and died three years later. There were several interruptions until 1367, when a competition was held and a final model for the church by four architects and four painters was accepted. The vault of the nave was finished in 1378 and the aisles were completed in 1380.

Between this year and 1421 the tribunes and probably the drum of the dome were built. The octagonal dome, consisting of two concentric shells linked together, was completed in 1434. A competition was held for the dome in 1418 and, after many doubts, Filippo Brunelleschi's project was accepted in 1420. The church, dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore (fiore referring to Florence) was consecrated on the 25 of March, 1436.
The remarkable differences in the various parts of the Cathedral show the evident changes in taste during the long time passed between the foundation of the church and its completion. Outside the shape of the round blind arches is a Romanesque vestige. The whole interior, with its huge arches, doors and windows, is Gothic . The dome is a masterpiece of the Renaissance. The façade, though in Gothic style, is from the 19th century. On the north side of the Cathedral, the Porta della Mandorla, dating from the 15th century, shows a Gothic influence both in the architectural design and decoration.

The interior, in the shape of Latin cross, consists of a nave and two aisles. Massive pillars with composite capitals support the Gothic groined vaults.
The frescoes on the north aisle, representing two 'condottieri' on horseback, are by Paolo Uccello and by Andrea del Castagno. In the lunettes above the entrances to the two sacristies there are terracotta works by Luca della Robbia. The design of the round stained glass window is by Lorenzo Ghiberti.

The Abbey of San Galgano and the (real) Sword in the Stone

The abbey of Saint Galgano rises approximately 30 km from Siena, between the towns of Monticiano and Chiusdino, in a wild and unspoilt landscape, the sweet and charming Tuscany countryside.The Abbey of Saint Galgano was built between 1218 and 1268: it has represented throughout the centuries an important stop and point of reference in this corner of Tuscany for travellers, pilgrims and people of every kind, which was densely populated, rich in churches, castles, villages, abbeys and monasteries.
The abbey was built in a wonderful gothic Italian style, with pointed arches and big decorated pilasters. It’s an excellent example of tuscanian gothic architecture, with the typical elements of Pisa’s and Siena’s architecture.

Nowadays the Abbey is deconsecrated, abandoned and partially ruined, but still full of charm: it has no more ceiling, but when you’re inside the church and look up, you can see the most beautiful ceiling in the world: the bright blue sky of Tuscany! As floor there’s green soft grass… seems that nature re-integrated the abbey with the landscape: in my own opinion this is a perfect example of how men and nature worked together to build a huge tribute to God… and they reached a perfect equilibrium.
Near the abbey there’s the Montesiepi Chapel, a small church where is the famous Sword in the Stone, not the King Arthur’s one (this is just a legend), but the only existing original sword in the stone, in the whole world.

The sword in the stone has been stuck by San Galgano into the rock emerging on the top of the hill in 1180, to symbolize his rejection of war, he plunged his sword into the rock, which miraculously "parted like butter", leaving only the hilt exposed to form the shape of the Cross: the Saint used to pray in front of this Cross.
To honour the Saint, around it has been built a small lovely round chapel, between 1182 and 1185.

The sword has been considered a fake for many years, but a metal dating research in 2001 made by the University of Siena has indicated that it really has medieval origins. The composition of the metal used for the blade doesn't show the use of modern techniques, and the style and shape is compatible with that ones of an original 12th century sword.

Very near the Abbey and the Montesiepi Chapel there’s a small bar-reastaurant where you can stop and taste a glass of local red wine with some sandwiches stuffed with the tasty salame, ham and others typical tuscanian foods.

Palazzo Pitti - Pitti Palace, Florence

The gallery is second only to the Uffizi in importance, and is notable for the works of Rubens, Pietro da Cortona, Tiziano e Raffaello (Titian and Raphael).
Begun in 1458 from an original design by Brunelleschi, the architecture of Palazzo Pitti was inspired by ancient Roman buildings. An enormous affair, it was built for Luca Pitti, a one time friend of the Medici who became jealous of their power and turned against them. The palace was a blatant attempt at one-upmanship, but the fortunes of the Pitti family soon faded, and the powerful Medici family acquired the building, still uncompleted, in 1540.

It was to become the family seat in Florence and it was Cosimo´s wife, Eleanor of Toledo (whose dowry paid for the purchase), who was to transform the hillside behind the palace into the Boboli garden.

Palazzo Pitti remained the principal Medici residence until the last male Medici heir died in 1737: the Medici dynasty became extinct and the palace passed to the new Grand Dukes of Tuscany, the Austrian House of Lorraine.

The palace is home to eight separate museums: Galleria Palatina (Palatine Gallery, probably the most important one), begun by Cosimo de’ Medici the second in 1620; Gallery of Modern Art; Costume Gallery; Museo degli argenti (Silver Museum); Porcelain Museum; Boboli Garden.

Opening hours:
Open Tuesday to Sunday 8,15 – 18,50
Closed Monday, New Year’s Day, May 1st and Christmas Day.
Full Price: € 6,50Reduced: € 3,25
Free admission for people under 18 or over 65, students and teachers of faculties of architecture, cultural heritage conservation, educational sciences, or of Fine Arts Academy, tour guides.

Uffizi Museum, Florence

To see my pictures of Piazzale degli Uffizi, please read this post :-)

This is probably the most famous museum in the world. Its collection of Primitive and Renaissance paintings comprises several universally acclaimed masterpieces of all time, including works by Giotto, Simone Martini, Piero della Francesca, Fra Beato Angelico, Lippi, Botticelli, Mantegna, Correggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaelo, Michelangelo and Caravaggio. The German, Dutch and Flemish masters are also present in the Uffizi museum with important paintings by Dürer, Rembrandt and Rubens.

The Uffizi Gallery is located on the upper floor of the big building planned by Giorgio Vasari from 1560, which housed the administrative offices of the Tuscan State. The Gallery was created by Francesco I, and then enriched and enlarged by other members of the Medici family, who were great collectors of paintings, sculpture and arts in general. The collection was then rearranged and enlarged by the Lorraine Grand-dukes, who succeeded the Medici family, and finally by the Italian State.

The building also houses other relevant collections: the Contini Bonacossi Collection and the Collection of Prints and Drawings (Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi).The Vasari Corridor, the raised passageway connecting the Uffizi with Pitti Palace, was also built by Giorgio Vasari in 1565: the Corridor is hung with an important collection of 17th-century paintings and the famous collection of self-portraits of artists.

Full price 6,50 €
Reduced 3,25 €
Free admission for people under 18 or over 65, students and teachers of faculties of architecture, cultural heritage conservation, educational sciences, or of Fine Arts Academy, tour guides.

Opening hours:
Open Tuesday to Sunday 8,15 – 18,50Closed Monday, New Year’s Day, May 1st and Christmas Day.
For Booking: +39(055) 294883
Booking charge: 4 €

Double Portrait of Federico da Montefeltro and his wife, by Piero della Francesca
Self-Portrait, by Raphael

The Head of Medusa, by Caravaggio

The Birth of Venus, by Botticelli

Bacchus, by Caravaggio
Here are two nice videos that I found on Youtube which show the Uffizi tour :-)


Shopping in Florence

I suggest you an interesting tour in the centre of Florence. Obviously it does not include everything the city has to offer, but is a good starting point for anyone wanting to explore one of the world's shopping capitals.

For luxury shopping the place to start is Via Tornabuoni, one of the most elegant streets of the city, where you can find all the big shopping brands (Gucci, Prada, Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana…). Chic purchases can also be made in nearby Via della Vigna Nuova.

Many traditional Florentine shops of historic status can be found in the city centre: in Via dei Fossi, Via Maggio and the streets around them you can find some wonderful antiques’ shops, and sure the well known jewellery shops on Ponte Vecchio.

One of Florence's most typical shopping areas is the Oltrarno, right after Ponte Vecchio, in the Santo Spirito historical zone. Here you can find small shops, craft studios and laboratories producing wood products, jewellery, lamps, metal vases, but also the typical Florentine straw hats and many other original items.

In the place where is the Church of Santo Spirito (and has the same name), a national and ethnic craft fair is held on the second Sunday of every month. In San Frediano, another zone in the Oltrarno, are some laboratories which produce Florence's greatest and most traditional craft products: fabrics for furnishings, decorated silverware, hand-made shoes and glass objects with a classic antique designs.

Florence is also famous for the manufacturing of leather goods: bags, shoes, gloves, clothing items. The leather shops are mainly located in the Santa Croce area.

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