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
- Family Travel
- 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!!!!!!!
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Gay and Lesbian
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.
Coffe in every variant...
Cappucini is a part of the breakfast.. If you order it after 12 O'clock you are a tourist ;-)
Esspresso is STRONG, macciato has a bit of milk, lungho is with a bit more water...
It is good to know a bit about it, spend some time on wikipedia or any other source of information in the matter...
- Arts and Culture
Style and comfort!
We were eating out all the time and as it was the off season we got some charming glimpses of waiters at their ease - standing in the doorway of the trattoria with a can of beer and a smoke chatting to their friends - and the kitchen staff would wander into sight quite often. And all the kitchen staff seemed to be wearing crocs. White crocs, green crocs, mauve crocs. I was fascinated.
Then the next day I found these fleecy lined crocs for sale. What genius dreamed that up? Just the job for nippy mornings.
I saw two gypsy women in Firenze begging. I had taken this woman's photo - she was munching on a dry bun and the birds were pecking at the crumbs - so I gave her some of the crumbs from my purse. She started the whining and demanding so I just walked away.
After Roma, when I nearly started lashing out as 15 umbrella sellers importuned me from all sides and a red headed begger from the south asked for a cigarette - I found Firenze quite peaceful.
It wasn't until Sunday - the big day for the market - that I saw any African bag sellers. They set up on sheets in front of the Duomo. I don't know where they are the rest of the time.
Just before you get to the Ponte Vecchio you can see these padlocks with two names written on them. Lovers up to their tricks to keep their love safe and secure. No idea who started this trend but I think it may be of fairly recent origin.
On the bridge itself, there is a sign on the railing around the statue of Cellini warning that any padlocks will be removed. And that wouldn't be a good omen for your eternal love.
On the south side of the loggia del Mercato Nuovo is Tacca’s famous Boar (Il Porcelino) from 1639.
You can always see crowds of people round it, testing their luck. All you have to do is put a coin in the boar's mouth and let it fall into a hole under it. If the coin falls next to the boar, leave it there and try with another one.
- Casino and Gambling
Don't panic here!
Down in the old crypt of the Duomo we saw this emergency exit. I had to laugh, but I really hope there will never be any emergency with people in panic trying to get in line and climbing up the ladder.
If you are lucky enough to be in Florence on January 6th, you're likely to come upon events celebrating the Epiphany. Unfortunately, I was unable to find out exactly what was going on but it was fun to mingle with the local people and enjoy the events.
In the morning, there was a lot of activity in front of the Duomo. There was a live cow in a stall and a sound system was being set up, presumably to relay a service to people outside.
Then later in the day, I came upon a colourful display by men dancing with flags. I felt sure that one of the large flags was going to come flying my way but the dancers were extremely skillful and it was an impressive performance.
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Eating in restaurants - throughout most of Italy not just Florence - is very different (excluding tourist traps) than in the U.S.
Just because you aren't lavished with attention doesn't mean they don't care. Italians tend to be laid back about almost everything (except calcio maybe!). You may wait 5 or even 10 minutes (if it's very busy) for your waiter to arrive. Use this time to pick out an antipasto & wine!
Also, they typically don't check back to see how your food is. They will usually be nearby or pass by though, so if there is an issue just politely flag them down/call them over. Please don't call Waiter! (in any language!) or (heaven forbid) snap your fingers to do so. Usually eye contact and a nod will do, although a friendly "per favore" will do the trick too.
They won't rush you, as dining in Italy is an experience, and it is not unusual to take 2 or 3 hours to dine. When you're ready for the check, you'll need to ask for it. Be sure to ask if the "servizio" is included. While we found that in Florence it usually was (not the same thing as the coperto), in Venice it often wasn't.
Most places are very helpful, just bring a phrasebook with you to be sure you're understood (especially if you have food allergies or sensitivities). Don't be rude and assume they speak your language - at least attempt to speak Italian. Even if you aren't very good at it or only know a little, that little bit will go a long way. Cin Cin!
- Food and Dining
- Arts and Culture
All day drinking? well, in moderation.
It seems the Florentines start drinking a lot earlier than we do! One sunday morning around 10.30 am we stopped at a Tabacchi for a sanwich and cofee to find one of the customers enjoying champagne with their espresso!
Another day, we had a and early lunch (more like brunch!) at the Mercato Centrale. After we'd given our orders the lady asked us if we wanted wine too. We checked out watches and it was 11.45! Ah well, we were on holiday....!
One thing is for sure though, drunkenness is frowned on by the locals. After speaking to a few locals it seems that this is something the tourists bring with them. Certainly when, you go to bars you'll notice that people go out to chat, meet people and have fun, not get wasted.
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