Fun things to do in Florence

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Most Viewed Things to Do in Florence

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    Mercato di San Lorenzo (Centrale)

    by painterdave Written Jan 26, 2014

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    Spend an hour wandering around this large market, see the types of vegetables that are available to Italians, watch fish being cleaned, Pasta being machine rolled and loaded with sauce for ravioli, taste cheese of Tuscany, and have a sandwich made by Nerbone who have been in business since 1872.
    Go in the morning, closed in the afternoons after about 2:00.

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    Gelato Fantastico!

    by goodfish Updated Nov 14, 2013

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    May is a very good month to go to Florence ‘cause if you’re lucky, you might land into the city during Firenze Gelato Festival.

    We were very, very lucky.

    The international fest lasts 5 days, is scattered around multiple locations, and includes everything from demos to exhibitions to hands-on prep. But the BEST part is sampling the crème de la crème of Italian ice creams. Piazza Santa Maria Novella hosted the Village of the Masters and Emerging Gelato Makers where the Donatellos and Michelangelos of the craft offer up their latest creations - and they were masterpieces indeed: dark Venezuelan chocolate; green tea and almonds; salted caramel and white chocolate; chocolate muffin with black cherries; fresh berries in panna cream; fresh peach and lemon caviar; vanilla bourbon… OMG.

    The festival is also a competition for Flavour of the Year for Master Gelato Makers so this is serious stuff, folks, and it’s not free but worth every euro (and every calorie). €15 bought us a card good for 5 generous samples of our choice, a gelato cocktail, tote bag, some tschotckes, a guidebook and entrance to all of the exhibitions. You could also renew the card once for € 6 - and which we somehow managed to do twice. We also never made it past the aforementioned piazza as the master crafters had us hooked at first lick (or little spoonful, as it were).

    As one story goes, gelato was invented in Florence 400 years ago when one Signore Ruggeri entered a Medici-sponsored contest for the "the most peculiar dish ever seen” and won with his frozen delicacy. The other version credits artist Bernardo Buontalenti for whipping up a citrus-flavored frozen creme for the dinner guests of Cosimo I, and the rest is history. However it happened, Florentines take great pride in the city's legacy as the birthplace of Italy’s most beloved - and consumed - treat

    The website is excellent with an English version and all the details you need to know: dates, card prices, hours, events, list of exhibitors, etc. so keep any eye out for current festival info as it's posted. Some of the locations also featured live music to serenade the samplers.

    So who won the 2012 award for the best of the best? A Canadian! James Coleridge, owner of Bella Gelateria in Vancouver walked away with the prize for his Noce Pecan e Sciroppo d’Acero Canadese: Pecan nut and Canadian maple syrup. Yum (yep, I had that one)!!!!

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    Have A Late Gelatio And Watch People

    by RoscoeGregg Updated Nov 2, 2013

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    We just happed onto this.

    We had just finished a great dinner across the Arno. It was late just before the gelateria closed. We bought a couple of cups and took them to Piazza della Señora in front of the Palazzo Vecchio.

    It ws the most wonderful people watching. There was a man playing the flute and as we sat their and rested our weary feet we found the perfect way to end the day in Frenze.

    It was so much fun and so relaxing that we did it again the next night in front of the Duomo!

    Give it a shot you will most certainly enjoy the end to a great day.

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    Touring Tuscany

    by jldodge710 Written Sep 21, 2013

    Four of us stayed in Florence for three days. During our stay, we took two day trips to Siena & Cortona, visiting other cities along the way. The tours were driving tours with Tuscany Tours. Paola Migliorini and Giuseppe Aulisa were extremely accommodating and adapted very well to our interests and needs. We toured a winery, walked through local towns, and enjoyed the people. A great experience that only made us thirstier for more. We will definitely return to Florence for another visit.

    Friends of ours recommended Tuscany Tours and we were NOT disappointed. They are very flexible and can arrange just about any tour you can imagine. We highly recommend them for any touring needs.

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    FirenzEstate 2013!

    by EugeneM Written Jul 12, 2013

    Summer in Florence offers a ton of fun activities organized and promoted by the City of Florence and the Region of Tuscany: Jazz, pop, rock and classical concerts, opera, ballet, modern and ethnic dance performances, open-air movies, special museum events, dance parties, activities for kids and more!
    Get all the info you need to enjoy your Florentine summer nights at http://www.firenzestate.it/en/

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    Sun & Fun: a day at the beach, 30 minutes away!

    by EugeneM Written Jul 1, 2013

    Want to escape the summer heat? The Parco dei Renai is only 30 minutes away from downtown Florence! Organized in collaboration with the WWF, Parco dei Renai, in Signa, offers nature trails, bird watching, swimming in the lake or the pool, try out the 8-meter rock-climbing wall, play volleyball, tennis, soccer, mini-golf, skateboarding, rowboating, picnicking, and just plain loafing in a beautiful park. You can get there by bus from Florence, or rent a bike and take the bike trail from Le Cascine. This is a great place for the whole family to unwind, relax, cool off and have fun - a welcome respite from the rigors of touring!

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  • Wine Tour With Tuscan Trails Outside Florence

    by mgklug Written May 13, 2013

    My wife Peg and I had a great tour with Todd Bolton through Tuscany. The wine was terrific, of course, and the views were magnificent. But what made the trip was the knowledge that Todd brought regarding the wine, the history of the region, the politics dating back to the Medicis and the Pozzis (if you go, as him about this), and the business of wine making. The day was full and the pace was perfect, and it felt very personalized. Peg and I talk once a week (while drinking Chianti, of course) on what was the favorite part

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    Oratorio Della Confraternita di San Martino, III.

    by Oleg_D. Updated Mar 26, 2013

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    Oratorio Della Confraternita di San Martino dei Bounomini, part III.
    The huge crowds of tourists usually stand and agape in front of the Dante Alighieri house and then they are marching somewhere else. Majority of them are in blissful ignorance about that the master piece of Florentine medieval culture is situated just behind the corner in ten meters at the Square of Saint Martin. Don’t repeat their mistake just have a look behind the corner! Your reward will be the small oratory built in the late XV century for the Congregation of Buonomini di San Martino or Good people of Saint Martin in English. Congregation itself was founded in 1441 with the purpose of assisting respectable citizens of Florence who were reduced to penury by political upheavals so that they should no have to suffer the shame of begging for their living.
    The founder of the Congregation was the first Arch Bishop of Florence Fra Antonio Pierozzi also known as Saint Antoninus after his canonization in 1523.
    The present building stood next to the church of San Martino al Vescovo and was owned by the Benedictine monks of the Badia Fiorentina (the Florentine Abbey), from whom Good People (Bounomini) bought it.
    Very little now remains from the old church which was an important one in medieval times and was the Parish Church of Alighieri and Donati families.

    The interior of the oratory is the masterpiece of the art of fresco. Ten lunettes are frescoed by the members of the workshop of famous Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494) and possibly by Filippino Lippi (1457-1504). Those frescoes represent the works of mercy on the examples from the life of Saint Martin of Tours and activities of the Good People.

    Visitors are allowed to take non commercial photos without tripod and flash light. Donations are welcomed and highly appreciated. Don’t forget about the main purpose of Confraternity.

    Admission: Free
    Service Hours: 10-12 and 15-17 hrs.

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    Oratorio Della Confraternita di San Martino, II.

    by Oleg_D. Updated Mar 26, 2013

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    Oratorio Della Confraternita di San Martino dei Bounomini, Interiors.
    The huge crowds of tourists usually stand and agape in front of the Dante Alighieri house and then they are marching somewhere else. Majority of them are in blissful ignorance about that the master piece of Florentine medieval culture is situated just behind the corner in ten meters at the Square of Saint Martin. Don’t repeat their mistake just have a look behind the corner! Your reward will be the small oratory built in the late XV century for the Congregation of Buonomini di San Martino or Good people of Saint Martin in English. Congregation itself was founded in 1441 with the purpose of assisting respectable citizens of Florence who were reduced to penury by political upheavals so that they should no have to suffer the shame of begging for their living.
    The founder of the Congregation was the first Arch Bishop of Florence Fra Antonio Pierozzi also known as Saint Antoninus after his canonization in 1523.
    The present building stood next to the church of San Martino al Vescovo and was owned by the Benedictine monks of the Badia Fiorentina (the Florentine Abbey), from whom Good People (Bounomini) bought it.
    Very little now remains from the old church which was an important one in medieval times and was the Parish Church of Alighieri and Donati families.

    The interior of the oratory is the masterpiece of the art of fresco. Ten lunettes are frescoed by the members of the workshop of famous Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494) and possibly by Filippino Lippi (1457-1504). Those frescoes represent the works of mercy on the examples from the life of Saint Martin of Tours and activities of the Good People.

    Visitors are allowed to take non commercial photos without tripod and flash light. Donations are welcomed and highly appreciated. Don’t forget about the main purpose of Confraternity.

    Admission: Free
    Service Hours: 10-12 and 15-17 hrs.

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    • Historical Travel
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    • Architecture

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    Oratorio Della Confraternita di San Martino

    by Oleg_D. Updated Mar 26, 2013

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    Oratorio Della Confraternita di San Martino dei Bounomini.
    The huge crowds of tourists usually stand and agape in front of the Dante Alighieri house and then they are marching somewhere else. Majority of them are in blissful ignorance about that the master piece of Florentine medieval culture is situated just behind the corner in ten meters at the Square of Saint Martin. Don’t repeat their mistake just have a look behind the corner! Your reward will be the small oratory built in the late XV century for the Congregation of Buonomini di San Martino or Good people of Saint Martin in English. Congregation itself was founded in 1441 with the purpose of assisting respectable citizens of Florence who were reduced to penury by political upheavals so that they should no have to suffer the shame of begging for their living.
    The founder of the Congregation was the first Arch Bishop of Florence Fra Antonio Pierozzi also known as Saint Antoninus after his canonization in 1523.
    The present building stood next to the church of San Martino al Vescovo and was owned by the Benedictine monks of the Badia Fiorentina (the Florentine Abbey), from whom Good People (Bounomini) bought it.
    Very little now remains from the old church which was an important one in medieval times and was the Parish Church of Alighieri and Donati families.

    The exterior of oratory is very simple. Two narrow slits for alms at the sides of the doorway recall and remind about the purposes of that Confraternity.

    The interior of the oratory is the masterpiece of the art of fresco. Ten lunettes are frescoed by the members of the workshop of famous Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494) and possibly by Filippino Lippi (1457-1504). Those frescoes represent the works of mercy on the examples from the life of Saint Martin of Tours and activities of the Good People.

    Visitors are allowed to take non commercial photos without tripod and flash light. Donations are welcomed and highly appreciated. Don’t forget about the main purpose of Confraternity.

    Admission: Free
    Service Hours: 10-12 and 15-17 hrs.

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    • Religious Travel
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

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    Santa Felicita

    by goodfish Written Nov 9, 2012

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    Oh what the heck - here’s another church.

    This one is famous for being the second oldest in Florence - although what you see today is mostly an 18th-century remodel. The first basilica on this site was built in the 4th or 5th century, and a second constructed in the 11th. It also has the remains of a Brunelleschi-designed chapel, and the Vasari Corridor - constructed in 1564 as the Medici's private walkway from the Pitti Palace to Palazzo Vecchio - cuts right through the thing. Just as the corridor kept the nobility away from the riffraff on Florentine streets, so also did it conceal them from the lowly folks in the cheap seats during mass. From behind a heavy screen above the nave, they could comfortably snooze through the sermon with impunity.

    There are a couple of very nice Pontormo paintings in the aforementioned chapel and that’s about it but it’s free for a look-see. Open 9:30-12 and from 3:30-5:30.

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    Santa Trinita

    by goodfish Updated Oct 19, 2012

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    “Holy Trinity” is a 13th-century chiesa which has suffered a lot of indignities and damage from repeated overhauls, a WWII shakeup and the 1966 flood: she’s one tough old dame. She’s also packed with chapels and frescoes too numerous to list.

    The star attraction is the Sassetti Chapel: notable because it somehow escaped the redecorating and/or removal of antiquities that occurred in many of the others. Francesco Sassetti managed the bank of the Medici family in the mid 1400’s - which made him a very wealthy man - and the chapel he commissioned is, among other things, a visual thank-you note to the hands that fed him. It’s covered in frescoes illustrating the life of St. Francis but with a twist: some of the figures in the cycle are Sassetti’s benefactors, friends and family members. The banker himself can be seen in the panel of Saint Francis receiving the Rule of the Order from Pope Honorius. Heck, the artist even painted his own portrait into one of the other scenes!

    Domenico Ghirlandaio was one of the premier fresco artists of the era and apprenticed a 13 year-old Michelangelo shortly after painting this chapel. Besides being astonishingly intact, its especially interesting because of the detailing of the figures: Ghirlandaio created the contemporaries as they really looked instead of glamming them up or just making the suggestion; it’s a 15th-century photograph in paint. Look for Domenico himself peering out at you from the far left in "Resurrection of the Boy.” His son, Ridolfo, who trained under Fra Angelico, contributed two paintings to the Bombeni chapel.

    Other highlights include Lorenzo Monaco’s Bartolini Salimbeni Chapel - freed from an 18th-century slathering of plaster - and the Luca Della Robbia crypt of Bishop Benozzo Federighi. Speaking of plaster, the entire interior was originally sheathed in frescoes, many of which were tragically covered over in the 17th and 18th centuries or otherwise badly damaged during interior facelifts. Restored fragments of some of them can be seen here and there throughout the church.

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    Tourist Passes: to buy or not to buy?

    by goodfish Written Sep 25, 2012

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    Most destination cities offer tourist passes and Florence is no exception but whether you’ll save any euros on one depends on a number of conditions:

    • The amount of time you’ll have to use a pass: you often won't break even unless you can cover a lot of ground in the time that you have

    • How many of the sites included you are interested in: are you really THAT crazy to see a bunch of dead animals, and is your 8 year-old REALLY wild about art? Add up the individual prices of your must-dos and compare that to the price of a pass.

    • Whether those sites are open on the day(s) you wish to see them: national museums are closed on Mondays and major holidays

    • How many other useful perks (such as transport) the pass offers: are they worth the extra cost?

    • How many people you’re traveling with, their ages, and from what country: some museums offer free or reduced entry for all children/seniors, or only to students/children/seniors from the E.U.

    • What time of year you’re traveling: line-skipping perks may not be a necessity during low season

    Florence offers two different passes: The Firenze Card, and Friends of the Uffizi Pass. Here are the differences:

    Firenze Card: good for 72 consecutive hours from first use; includes a single visit to any of 50 attractions; line skipping; use of public transit within the city; free entry for one person (EU citizens ONLY!) under age 18 with each card purchased.

    Friends of the Uffizi Pass: good until Jan 1 of the calendar year purchased; includes unlimited visits to 22 attractions; line skipping; nice family rate

    We ended up with a Friends of the Uffizi family pass (same price as 2 adult Firenze cards) as it covered most of the attractions we wished to see, allowed us more time to do them than the Firenze Card over our 5 days, allowed us to go back to a favorite site more than once, and worked out to the same or less than pre-reserving individual tickets for line-skipping privileges. We also didn’t need the transport piece offered on the Firenze Card as central Florence is relatively compact and we’re good walkers. The card may be purchased at the Galleria Uffizi Welcome Desk through door number 2: ask the attendants to point you the way.

    One caution: Neither pass covers the the baptistry at the Duomo, the church of Santa Croce, or a number of other attractions so expect to shell out some extra $$ for additional stuff you may wish to see.

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    Nudist Colony in the Middle of a Busy Square

    by riorich55 Written Aug 27, 2012

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    Did that catch your attention?

    When my wife and I entered the Piazza Della Signoria I immediately spotted the piazzas Statue of David casting a wonderful shadow on the wall. I quickly grabbed one of my cameras (my camcorder can also take good pictures) and got off a couple of pictures. I figured we only had a few minutes before the sun sank farther below the buildings behind us and David would be completely in the dark.

    We didn't have time nor did we want to go inside any of the Florence museums on our 1 day trip so even seeing a replica of the Statue of David in his home city of Florence was a treat.

    And seeing him cast in sunlight with his shadow on the wall was a truly unexpected treat and one of those unplanned moments where memories last forever.

    Here are the pictures we took on all of our cameras.

    Someone had asked if the statue was clean in a forum question. Looking back at these pictures I don't have the original to compare to, but I've seen enough outside statues in our ventures that these did like they had been scrubbed rather recently.

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    Tired of Art Museums? Give This a Shot

    by RoscoeGregg Written Apr 29, 2012

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    The Museo Galileo is a newly renovated and fascinating museum that is a great break from the visual arts that surround you in this city.

    This building houses a mind boggling collection of renascence science instruments and artifacts. I was not sure about taking the time to see this and I was not able to convince my traveling partners to go with me. I am extremely glad that I did.

    From the front of the building and it's fantastic sundial to the last gallery I was well rewarded. Some highlights for me was some of Galileo's own instruments, relics of Galileo's own body, a huge collection of astrolabes and scientific glassware.

    It is very well laid out and easy to navigate. the plaques are in both Italian and English making it accessible. There are lockers that you may use to drop of you bag at the entrance. You may take photos (no flash of course).

    A last note it is often hard to find something to do with kids in Florence. (especially if the are not artsy) There are some astounding displays and there was information available for kids to use. So if you have a more hands on mechanical kid with you this would be a great outing. If you start a day or two before with a build up about Galileo and things like sundials and astrolabes the excitement in the right child child could go off the charts. Note: I was the kind of child that would have loved this place.

    It is easy to find and can be done in a morning with ease. It is also a good place to get away from the typical Florentine focus.

    So if you have a kid or are still interested in science Do NOT miss this.

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