Haggling and bargaining at the night market
Since I grew up in Asia, I had a culture of bargaining and haggling products that I buy. I don't usually pay what the seller tells me. I firmly negotiate the price and most of the time, I get the discount. Everywhere I travel, I get the negotiated price!
When I was in Florence, I bought gifts (mini-jewelry boxes), scarves, leather book covers, coin purses at discounted prices. When fellow travellers asked me how much I paid for them, they were surprised that I bought my gift items 40 percent lower than what they paid for the same item.
"Italian" sellers in Florence night markets don't give discounts as much as those immigrants sellers. "Italian sellers" are not usually into haggling! One got mad at me when I tried to haggle a leather book cover 50 percent of the retail value.
Most of the sellers at the night market in Florence are from Africa. I liked "negotiating" with them because they were very friendly. And, they were used to it, too.
Also, one of the tip is that make sure to compare prices first before you lock in the negotiated price that you wanted to pay. Also, compliment the seller (I can detect immediately if he is the owner of the stall/store or not. If he is willing to negotiate, he is the owner. If not, I leave and go to another store).
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
One can be confused with different names this palace have; Palazzo Pazzi, Palazzo Congiura or Palazzo mai finito - (Palace Pazzi, the Palace of Conspiacy, the Palace never complited).
Pazzi family were bankers with the support from Pope Sixtus IV and King of Neaples, and held important position in the Renaissance Florence but it wasn't good enough, they wanted much more. They aim was to seize political and economic power from the Medici. In this palace the conspiracy against the Medici's was hatched and planned in 1478; Giuliani de Medici was killed while Lorenzo il magnifico managed to escape. After conspiracy failed the retribution was brutal; public execution of most conspirators, all Pazzi property was confiscated and the Pazzi name destroyed. De' Medici become even stronger then before.
The palace was built by the architect Giuliano da Maiano, designed in the style of Brunelleschi.
Palazzo - Torre dei Gianfigliazzi
Originally it was home of the Guelph family Ruggerini who had to abandoned it in 1260, after the battle at Montaperti. It was built almost as the fortress but then reconstructed at the end of the 13th century by family Gianfigliazzi, who were the owners of the palace until 1764.
From the beginnings of the 18th century the palace was used as Accademia dei Nobili, hospiting many famous people, such as Alessandro Manzoni, Vittorio Alfieri and the king Loiuis Buonaparte.
Nowadays the palace is used as a hotel.
Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni
Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni was the first palace in Florence built according to the Roman Renaissance style. It was designed and built by the architect Baccio d'Agnolo, from 1520-1523 and he was paid two florins per day. The new style caused much criticism to the architect d'Agnolo, leading him to add the Latin inscription "Carpere promptius quam imitari" (critisizing is easier than imitating). The windows have another inscription in Italian saying "per non dormire" (in order not to sleep), which was the motto of the Salimbeni family. It is reference to the members of Salimbeni family habit to postpone sleeping to affairs.
Palazzo Spini Ferroni
The palace Spini Ferroni, built from 1289 for the rich cloth merchant and banker Geri Spini, was the largest private-owned palace in Florence. The design of the building has been attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio.
Later on the palace was divided between the two branches of the Spini and the section facing the square of Santa Trinita was sold in 17th century to marquis Ferroni. After a period as a hotel, in 1846 the comune of Florence bought it and was used for offices during the period when Florence was capital of Italy, from 1865-1871.
In 1930 the palace was bought by Salvatore Ferragamo, the famous shoe designer, and from 1995 its second floor houses the museum founded by Ferragamo.
Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze
The BNCF, (National Central Library) is public library, largest in Italy and one of the most important in Europe. It was founded in 1714 when scholar Antonio Magliabecchi bequeated his collection of books with 30.000 volumes to the city of Florence. Thats why the library is originally known as Magliabechiana. It was reguired that a copy of every work published in Tuscany be submitted to the library.
The library, located at the Piazza dei Cavalleggeri, has an collection of over six millions books, magazines, editions, manuscripts and incunabules.
When in Rome (or Firenze), do as the Romans do
I must have led a charmed life up to this particular venture to Italy, because in all the other countries I visited, English was either one of the standard languages or, in the case of France, I spoke the ambient tongue. I suppose I expected that many, if not most, of the hoteliers and shop keepers and transport personnel in Italy would speak at least a modicum of English. I didn't invest in a phrase-book (although it turned out my companion had brought one along). What arrogance! I have only myself to blame for the multiple times when language barriers led to absurd or disappointing results. (It is hard to ask for directions when you can't articulate where you want to go -- and can't understand when someone tries to help out.)
Probably no one reading this tip would make such a foolish mistake, but just in case...either learn enough Italian to get by, or keep a phrase-book or English-Italian dictionary close at hand. I promise you'll have a more enjoyable visit.
(And as one VT'er says in a very funny motto which I will badly paraphrase, speaking English slowly and very loudly does NOT make it more comprehensible!)
- Road Trip
- Women's Travel
Cover charges and tipping
When you are seated at an Italian restaurant, you should anticipate paying "coperto" or a cover charge, assessed on a per person basis. This ranges from something minimal to several euros, presumably depending upon the restaurant although I never analyzed this during our trip. Since the cover charge is intended to compensate the restaurant for the cost of doing business, including the employment of the wait staff, I was told not to apply the American standard of tipping 15% or more of the bill. Rather, the tradition seemed to be to put one's excess change on top of the credit card slip or cash to cover the meal. That sometimes resulted in several euros' "tip" but it would still be a fraction of what I'd pay at home, even if one included the coperto.
Never on a Monday
Not just in Firenze...many (perhaps most) Italian museums are closed on Mondays. This can be a spirit-killer if you're only in a city or town for a single day and the museums are unavailable, which is why the Spirit moves me to suggest that much of Italy's great art is found in its churches, virtually all of which are open every day of the week (and are generally free, to boot). So find your Caravaggios and della Robbias in the local duomo, and soak in the notion that people have been hallowing with their prayers the place where they are situated for many hundreds of years.
WHAT TO WEAR IN FLORENCE
So many of the forum posts ask the question of what to wear while in Florence. Having lived there for two years 15 years ago and then a month 3 years ago, my advice is to dress as comfortably as possible and above all wear your most comfortable shoes, be prepared for really hot weather in the summer, cold in the winter, and rain at anytime--it's not like California, and don't worry about dressing like Italians, you can't. Only if you are going to a posh restaurant, Harry's for example, will you need something somewhat dressy. And if you are planning to go into a church you must wear appropriate clothing, that is you must have your arms covered and no shorts or mini skirts.
- Women's Travel
I cannot say or emphasize it enough if you are going to Italy please please PLEASE learn at least enough of the language to communicate! I studied for 6 months before our trip so I was not fluent but it made for a wonderful experience to be able to communicate. Some of the worst behavior I have ever seen was from frustrated American tourists who fully arrogantly expected the Italians to speak flawless English while they themselves did not bother to learn a word of Italian. I have found that if you show the respect of at least trying to speak the language, no matter how badly mangled you will receive a warmer reception than those red in the face who think that yelling is going to get their point across. Remember we're visiting their country, why not learn a little bit before you go? That said, in the cities English is more prevalent but where we liked to eat in the family run trattorias the only English you would hear was, "No speak English!"
- Business Travel
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- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Lock up the love
The Italians are a passionate lot. If they're not making war on themselves (including government) then they're probably eating, then after that's all over there are the affairs of the heart.
Don't know where the tradition started and don't even know if it was in Italy, but certainly the Italians have embraced the idea - so much so that the local authorities have made it illegal to clamp padlocks to bridges in Florence.
The idea is a loving couple will attach a padlock to the railing of a bridge - in this case the famous Ponte Vecchio that spans the Arno River - and throw away the key. The padlock - like the loving couple - will never part. Sadly the authorities remove the padlocks with large bolt cutters - the spoil sports!!!!!!!
- Gay and Lesbian
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
If you ever have the chance, spend Easter Sunday in Florence. It is a marvelous day and was one of our favorites.
We got to the Piazza del Duomo around 9am and were lucky to get a place where we could see. For the next 2 + hours, there was a pageant, complete with a procession, flag throwers and music. As people performed, others set up the fireworks on a huge cart led in by white oxen.
The climatic moment was the Scoppio del Carro where the fireworks were lit. The atmosphere of the morning was amazing. . .Florentines were out in force and we enjoyed every minute of it.
There are no flowerbeds outside the station. At least in November. Maybe it is a riot of colour in the high season.
BTW the station is small and easy to understand. And very very extraordinarily ugly and shabby from the outside. Goodness me, it is plain.
Now here is chic ...
...just for the contrast with the crocs in the previous tip. I saw some beautiful and elegant stuff in the shops in Florence. Not that I would wear it, frankly I would rather wear crocs, but I like to look at it. There was some stunning men's clothing too. My husband was drooling just a little and that is unusual. A lot of it seemed to be English inspired, if you understand what I mean. A tweedy sort of look. But with an Italian twist. The market was full of really nice leather coats and bags. But even in the market - oh my dear - the prices. I saw some really elegant Florentines promenading, arm in arm, the hat, the gloves, the handbag for the lady, the scarf just so, the haircut. The stance, the attitude, scarey stuff for a harum scarum Antipodean.
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