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.
The monumental church of San Firenze is one of the rare examples of the 17th century Baroque architecture in the town of Florence. It is, however, transformed into the palace and now it houses The Tribunal of Firenze. The building is situated on ononymous square, right behind the Palazzo Vecchio and in close vicinity to Bargello.
Cocktails in Florence
Just a little hint about what to drink in a bar. The first giveaway that someone os a tourist is that they go onto a cafe or bar and order a glass of red wine (imagine the tsk-tsk noise of clucking chickens that people like to make when you are breaking the rules).
In Italy, generally you can drink anything in a bar BUT red wine, you consume it with a meal, not really on its own.
One of the best 'light' drinks to have at aperitivo is a prosecco or spumante, if you like the bubbles but have a sweet tooth than a Moscato might be for you. (For those of you in America over the age of 30, ever hear of Muscatel?)
Why are drinks so expensive in Italy? Italy is not a drinking culture (but the liquor and beer companies are trying to change that and fast) and thus people don't have multiple drinks, so the bar has to get it's money out of a client on 1 or 2 drinks. Also, people don't hang out all night in a bar (although this too is changing)...
Also, don't order complicated drinks, you will generally be disappointed, unless the place caters to that type of clientele. DOn't go into a seedy neighborhood cafe and ask the 90 yr old barman for a fuzzy nipple. (You might get one, but not the one you intended)
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Standing up at the bar
While found in the rest of Italy, the concept of standing at the bar is more the rule in Florence. This is part due to the spatial problem in many Florence cafes and bars, it also has to do a bit with the culture.
Generally most bars and cafes offer two tarrifs for standing and sitting. It is generally NOT worth the 200% markup to sit down, mainly because the service you get is not inline with the price difference.
There are many cafes and bars that do not charge to sit down, I am n0t writing them down here, but just try and pay attention when you are there, they are generally smaller and look like they have seen better days.
It is NEVER worth it to pay 5 Euros for a cappuccino!
Often times, when you are a regular in a bar/caffe, you get out of paying the higher rate, so oft times loyalty does pay off. If you do frequent a place quite a bit and don't notice the service getting better the more you go, you might consider going elsewhere.
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Easter in Florence
I was lucky enough to visit Florence during the Easter period.
This picture was taken on Good Friday quite late. The procession came from the Mercato Centrale area and ended at the San Lorenzo.
Inside the churches are beautifully decorated with flowers - very family and church orientated.
Palazzo degli Uffizi
The Uffizi Palace was designed in 1560 by Giorgio Vasari and completed some twenty years later by Alfonso Parigi and Bernardo Buontalenti. It was built next to Palazzo Vecchio and was assigned to the offices of the city magistracies. The old church of San Piero Scheraggio was sacrificed to make a room for the new palace, partly demolished and partly incorporated into the new edifice. The ground floor of the palace have lofty arcades and above a loggia, which initially had no specific use. Francesco I de Medici decided to transformed it into the Gallery and commissioned Buontalenti to build the Tribune. The Galleria degli Uffizi became the city's first art museum.
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.
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.
Tipping in Florence
Locals do not generally tip.
In Florence, we have seen prices almost double in restaurants over the last five years.
If you feel service was good, go ahead and leave something, but NY tipping (20%) is abnormal here - while the server might be pleased, the locals are not.
Why don't people tip? No one ever explains this- the main reason is many places charge a cover or service charge 10-12% + the hated pane/coperto - bread and silverware charge, leftover from the 15th century. In addition, most waitstaff have proper labor contracts and get a nationally sanctioned salary - so they are not working for tips like in the US and increasingly inother countries. So that's why we don't tip - not just because we are cheap (in italian: tirato/a means to be cheap).
Don't tip the cab driver, our taxis are almost the same price as London - they will probably start charging a supplement for breathing!
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.
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.
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 - 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.
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 Strozzi is very monumental building, looks almost like a fortress, which dominates the square with the same name. It is situated just a foot from Piazza della Repubblica.
The palace was built from 1489 to 1539 by famous architect Benedetto da Maiano in Italian Renaissance style. It is a typical Firentine palazzo pattern which favours a flat facade build of rusticated stone.
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