Officina Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella
The most ancient perfumery - apothecary in the world. Established in 1612 in the convent of S.M. Novella by the monks who used local herbs and plants to create medicines which helped cure the plague epidemic from which the city of Florence suffered in 1630s.
It is a exquisite historic building and still respectful of the past remedies and continued in present.
Favourite things to purchase are the eau de cologne by Santa Maria Novella for women & men, however other beauty and health products can be found.
Levanta Ambrata, for her
Tobacco Toscano for him
Via della Scala, 16 - 50123 Firenze
- Arts and Culture
Tuscany is famous for the wines, and the local variety of "Chianti".
other local varieties worth to taste for a deeper Tuscan taste experience are "Montalcino" and "Montepulciano"
The safest choice for first-timers is anything "Chianti classico" labelled with the original rooster label.
Some of my favourites tastes include:
Nobile di Montepulciano 2011
Chianti classico riserva 2011 & grand selezione 2011, Castello di Verrazzano
Campone Rosso di Montalcino
Chianti classico Montegiachi
- Food and Dining
- Wine Tasting
Love Locks on the Ponte Vecchio
So these are both a custom and a curse. Young people have created the trend of expressing their love by attaching locks to certain fencing in famous spots (the Pont des Arts in Paris is another fine example). However, the locks pose a burden on the fencing and so the local government pays to have the locks removed periodically at great cost. While this seems a charming idea, please do not add to the local burden.
- Arts and Culture
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Hiking and Walking
The center of Firenze is a pedestrianized, traffic-free zone where only emergency vehicles are allowed to drive on the streets, so it was interesting to see La Polizia on the Piazza della Signoria expecting everywhere I walked to be a pedestrian-safe area.
- Budget Travel
- Women's Travel
Even the ancient Romans used to decorate their houses with pagan patron saints and the practice continued in a time when Christianity became the dominant religion. Such religious architectural form in Florence had a strong significance starting from the 13th century, especially in the struggle against heretics/Patarins.
Under the influence and guidance of Pietro da Verona, Florentine Catholics fought against heresies by adorning corners of the streets with sacred images, as well as the houses, shops and public buildings. In the beginning, they used to set up portable stands on the street corners where Catholic population dominated. However, already in the 14th century portable stands have been replaced with the fixed tabernacles. During the night the tabernacles, which took on different forms and contents, were illuminated with candles.
During the great plague in 1348, for fear of infection, many tabernacles have served as altars in the open space. Starting from the 15th century, churches and wealthy homes started to use tabernacles in a much larger form, wanting to show by that their power, devotion and faith but also, demonstrating their wealth. Many tabernacles were made by famous artists of the time, such as Donatello or della Robbia.
In the early 19th c. many churches, palaces and towers in the old town were destroyed, and so the tabernacles, in order to create the space for new and wider streets and squares. Antiquarian Stefano Bardini has preserved many tabernacles which are exposed today in Museo Bardini.
purchasing museum tickets online
When you are planning your trip and looking for tickets, it can be rather confusing to know which are the reputable ticket dealers and which are the ones to stay away from. Some ticket agents seem to charge hefty prices and claim to help you avoid the lines. However, I prefer to use the official ticket site for whatever city I am visiting. For Florence, this is found online at www.FirenzeMusei.it. Purchasing online from the official site for the museums gives me a feeling of confidence should there be a problem when I arrive. At least I know where to find the museum for help – I’m not sure if the unofficial online ticket agent will be nearby to help out if there is a problem.
In the busy tourist season, it is a good idea to get your tickets in advance to avoid the long lines at the ticket windows. Of course, this means that you have decide your itinerary in advance; those who are of a more spontaneous nature may not like this plan. For those like me who like to have all the details lined up in advance, online ticket purchases are perfect!
- Museum Visits
Firenze museum card
The Firenze card is an attempt to make it easy for visitors to Florence to purchase one card and gain access to multiple museums. The primary benefit in crowded tourist season is that you may bypass the long lines and enter the museum through a special entrance.
However, in my opinion, many of these cards do not save you any money and may wind up costing you money. For example, the Firenze card is €50 and covers nearly 50 museums in Florence. However, you only have 72 hours from the time you enter the first museum to use it. Therefore, in order to make it pay for itself, you really have to rush to get to as many museums as possible in the allotted time. A quick adding of the museums we covered in our week long class that are covered by the Firenze card did not come close to covering the price of the card. However, there are numerous museums we did not enter that may be of interest to other travelers.
You can also check out Florence’s official museum website for prices, admission times, and other details to help you determine if the Firenze Card is for you or not.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Taking photos – flash damages the paintings
here is lots of fine art in Florence – in museums, in churches, in other buildings, outside. And there are lots of people that want to take pictures of this art.
Many places will permit you to take photos but without a flash. And that is with good reason – over time the constant flashes will damage the paintings. It would be the same as keeping the lights on it – over time, damage occurs. And we want these wonderful pieces of art to remain as is so future generations can enjoy them. And even if flash is allowed, if you don’t need to use it, then try to get along without it – think of it as prolonging the life of the artwork.
However, a number of places do not permit photography or videos of any kind – not cameras, not cell phone cameras, nothing, nada, zero. Please adhere to these restrictions. Many of the more well attended tourist attractions have guards that look for cameras – and they do not hesitate to call you out. I personally watched several people in our group have these guards come right up to them and get in their faces about taking photos.
Most places have a sign at the entrance that lets you know if photography is allowed, permitted without flash, or prohibited. If in doubt, ask.
Some of the places that do NOT permit photography at all:
Santa Maria Novella Church (okay in the cloisters)
Chapel of the Magi in the Medici Palace (the rest of the palace is allowed without flash)
Medici Chapels San Lorenzo Church
Orsanmichele Church (although it was okay in the upstairs)
San Marco Museum (cloisters are okay)
Palazzo Pitti (outside in the courtyard and the gardens are okay)
Photography is allowed without a flash in:
Laurentian Library reading room and vestibule
Santa Croce Church and Museum
Photography with flash allowed:
most places outside
climbing up the dome of the Cathedral
Be mindful of other people in your photos – not everyone likes their picture taken. And try to take your photo quickly so you do not disturb others. Most places do not allow tripods, so you may not want to even bring one with you.
Be especially careful in churches - there may be people praying so we need to respect that. I recommend no flash while in a church and be as quiet and unobtrusive as possible.
If you can’t take photos in the place you are in, just relax and enjoy the reason you came – to see the beautiful artwork and architecture in Florence!
Getting the good shots – taking photos in Florence
As I planned my trip to Florence, I was hoping to get some good photos from various vantage points in the city. The weather, although wintertime, cooperated with me and we didn’t experience rainy days, although we did have some clouds so my photos didn’t always have the blue skies and fluffy white clouds in the background that I like so much. But the sun was bright when it was out and that usually worked to my advantage. Timing being everything with the sun, there were some things I just couldn’t control in order to have the sun at the right angle for my photos since I was following a preset agenda for the university course. Fortunately, there are so many great places to get photos in Florence, no matter where you are in the city you have opportunities for good photos.
Some of my favorite places for photos:
~ At the top of the Duomo. Okay, it meant climbing up the steps to the top of the dome, but it was worth it! We went around noon so the sun would be high in the sky, allowing me to take photos pretty much all the way around the top of the dome, both of the city and the surrounding countryside.
~From the Piazzale Michelangelo or San Miniato al Monte. Both are on the hill on the opposite side of the Arno River from the Duomo. This is THE place to get the city photos of Florence with the Duomo in the center. We were there in the later afternoon and the sun was perfect. After our tour of San Miniato, the sun had set so we were able to get the same photos with a night sky and the city lights on.
~The third floor of Orsanmichele can give you some interesting photos of the Duomo – you are almost level with the Duomo from this vantage point. The downside is that you have to shoot from inside a window and the museum is only open on Monday afternoons.
~For great photos of the Ponte Vecchio, head to the next bridge over, Ponte Santa Trinita. Day or night, the photos are beautiful from this location. I especially enjoyed the night photos with the reflection of the colored lights from the bridge in the river.
Of course, great photos are all around; just look around you and you’ll see photo opportunities. The secret is to enjoy taking the photos and to have some incredible visual reminders to go with the amazing memories you create while in Florence. But, if for some reason you cannot take the photo, then simply relax and enjoy yourself while not stressing over not capturing the photo. Enjoy Florence!
The city of arts and culture
Uffizi Gallery was begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de'Medici as the offices for the Florentine magistrates. The cortile (internal ourtyard) is long and narrow and open to the Arno River at irs far end through a Doric screen that articulates the space wthout blocking it.
The Gallery collection contains works of the world most prominent artists, such as: Leonardo, Giotto, Botticelli, Titian, Michelangelo, Raphael, Cimabue, Duccio, Caravaggio, ....and many more.
Giotto di Bondone (1266-1337), better known as Giotto was an painter and and architect from Florence. He is generally considered the first in a line of great artists who contributed to the Italian Renaissance.
Niccola Pisano (1220-1284), was an Italian sculptor whose work is noted for its classical Roman sculptural style. He is considered to the the founder of modern sculpture.
Just couldn't resist
"Golden view" is famous piano bar situated in Via Dei Bardi, Oltrarno, just a few metres from Ponte Vecchio. Besides fine espresso and sorted wines it offers fine snacks based on a seafood. This on the picture is window shop of the "Golden view's" kitchen, which overlooking Via Dei Bardi. I just couldn't resist not to take this picture when passing by.
Living in Florence
Yeah, visiting places like Florenece probably is dream of every traveller or tourist and one of world's a must see destinations. But then the question is are we tourists and visitors welcomed by the locals, especially in a pick of a season months when streets of Florence are overcrowded by those who aren't always neccessarily polite?
Do we take into the consideration fact that some locals must work in their offices while in front of it stands group of tourists who are listening strident yelling of their tourist guide? Are we tourists always sensitive regarding mothers who walking their babies? And finaly, wheter would be very happy if the relatively small amount of space we have to share with many visitors?
Benvenuto Cellini, born in Florence (1500-1571), was goldsmith, sculptor, painter, musician and soldier. He was one of the most important atrists of Mennerism. Apart from being the most significant goldsmith of his time, Cellini was also great sculptor who's work "Perseus with the Head of Medusa" can be seen in Loggia dei Lanzi.
Cellini was perhaps best known for his personal bravery and roughneck behaviour. He had significant role in the defense of Pope, in the attack upon Rome by Charles III, Duke of Bourbon. Cellini himself shot and injured Philibert, Prince of Orange and allegedly Charles III. Later on Cellini had many affrays in which he killed several people, but fact that was protected by the Popes have saved his life.
Take It To Go
As the sign in the picture clearly states. If you want your ice cream and a seat be prepared to spend 4 Euros more per ice cream for the privilege of using one of the tables. Maybe you want a table to rest your weary feet or maybe to do some extended people watching. Whatever your reason you will pay extra.
This held true for a number of different places we saw through Italy, so if in doubt if it will cost you to sit at a table, look around for a friendly sign or if you do not see one just ask!
Get used to the grafittis on the walls, on business establishments, on apartment buildings, on the streets...These grafittis are all over Florence. Sometimes these grafittis don't make sense, no meanings. I guess some bored Italian took a large pentel pen or spray paint and write on the wall to make a statement that has no sense.
To clean this up is expensive and labor-wise, takes a lot of time.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
- Arts and Culture