Beware when you sit down at an outside table at a bar for a nice beer or glass of wine. The prices are different if you sit inside (less expensive) or outside where you can see and be seen. My husband and I actually paid 6 euros apiece for a beer because we chose to sit at an outside table.
Unique Suggestions: Look for the prezzo lista. It is supposed to be prominently displayed but sometimes it's inside and you're outside or ask if there is a difference in price to drink inside or outside. I bet there is!
This huge street market surrounds Il Centro Mercato and the prices for some of the items are outrageous. Shoes for 150 euro and what not, especially the leather goods.
Unique Suggestions: There will be more than one vendor selling the same thing. If you have time play them against one another. I bargained my cape down from 60 euros to 35 and then when I opened my purse I explained that I had only 30 euros and as it was the end of the day I would not be back tomorrow. As expected I got a cape for 30 euros.
As you wander around Florence you will find street vendors selling many different items that make great souvenirs, however, you'll also find some shady characters. We all know how much the designer goods cost, so that sensational bargain price you find on the street corner from someone who wraps the merchandise in a sheet and leaves when the police come along, should make you think.
And remember, you can be fined for purchasing fake goods and they can be confiscated when you return home and go through customs. Do everyone a favor, ignore these con artists. If they have no customers, they will go away or maybe get real jobs.)
dont ever eat near the expensive shopping areas (via roma & tourbini) or near the main tourist attractions (uffizi & Academia) four lmeals, snacks and gelatto always walk a bit down side streets away from the commotion to find things considerably cheaper!
I will walk 5 miles before getting into a cab because of the universal trademark of scamming. HAD to take a cab in Florence. Got a driver whom we told we were under the gun to make our train connection to Rome-We'd been waiting at the wrong train station. I know he drove us around town until it was just short of train's departure-Partner had bought non-refundable tickets in advance from a travel agent-We arrived 5 minutes before departure and cabbie flipped the meter from 9.45 euros to 25.45 euros! Not even time for an argument at that point. Stewed about that for a few minutes and then had to let it go.
Unique Suggestions: DO NOT TAKE A CAB UNLESS there is not other way. Allow plenty of time for the trip. Negotiate the fare in Advance!! We couldn't do any of this. It was grab a cab and go! Unfortunately got another cab driver cheat.
Fun Alternatives: If time isn't important, the buses are great. See different parts of the city, people watch.
Located at Ponte Vecchio are many expensive jewelry shops, try to reframe from buying any jewelry here as it is quite expensive comparatively speaking. You can probably find better deals around Via Roma (famous shopping strip with many stores).
I was warned that there were many tourists in Florence during the summer... but I didn't expected that much. The streets were crowded, and the lines to the museums or any monument are so long, that you need to make a booking !
Of course all the tourists attract a lot of street vendors that sell you more or less illegal items.
They are litteraly everywhere, and I though that sometimes it was a bit spoiling such a beautiful city.
Not to mention the heat that in the summer can be really hard to handle.
Fun Alternatives: A taxi driver told me that the best time of the year to visit Florence was november.
I don't know about the weather... but there is certainly less tourist and lines !
Florence is famous for the main sight - a building of a majestic Cathedral which towers on the Cathedral area (Piazza Duomo) in the center of ancient city. In 1269 Arnolfo di Cambio has laid the foundation this cathedral which is devoted to the patroness of Florence - to S.Maria del Fiore. The cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore- the amazing architectural masterpiece (ornate by products of great Italian artists).
As you make your way from the Duomo towards the train station, the streets will be clogged with hucksters and merchants of excessive cheap or knock-off goods. Many of the people are Senegalese merchants who have a well-organized business network stretching over all of Italy. The goods are all the same merchandise you see in every major European city, and chances are anything you buy will be not worth half of what you paid.
Unique Suggestions: BARGAIN! Always, always, always offer far less than the quoted value. This is of course difficult if you only speak English, but try to learn the numbers in Italian and you'll be amazed at what you can achieve. I ended up paying 3 euro for a pair of sunglasses when the guy started out at 12. The best thing to do is act shocked and to tell him that you only paid *blank* for whatever it is you want in another city. Be careful, though, sometimes a hard bargain can enrage the seller and they chase after you screaming.
Fun Alternatives: If the bazaar is not qhat you're looking for, why not try an indoor market. Close to the train station (I don't remember exactly where) is an indoor market with fresh produce and also dried fruits, meats, olive oil, beauty products, etc. Its much less stressful to ship there and the goods you get will be certified authentic products.
the jewelry is more expensive here probably because the vendors pay more for their space because of the amount of foot traffic, but mostly because it's a touristy area and they know that some people don't know any better. if you are going to buy jewelry, i would stick to the local stores, or go somewhere that can certify the authenticity of your stone.
the bridge, however, is free, and quite a marvel since it withstood world war II.
If you're not in the market for a leather jacket, don't even start talking to a salesman at one of the many leather carts/stalls. Before you know it you'll be wearing a jacket you had admired and then will be whisked away to the "factory" which will be a store up the street. There they will have you try on all sorts of jackets and offer you the best price. There you will no doubt see other tourists who have also been "kidnapped" in a similar fashion.
Unique Suggestions: This isn't necessarily a bad experience. The prices can drop considerably the longer you hold out and if you can make the salesman think he's wearing you down. I can't speak for the quality however and it may be that the jackets are not even made in Florence. In my experience the salesman was nice and if I were a woman I would have found him charming and very attractive. He was never very aggressive to the point that I thought I was being held against my will. It was actually a fun experience. And no, I didn't buy anything.
Fun Alternatives: It is a bit fun. I would definitely go to the San Lorenzo market for all that it offers. But if you want known quality leather jackets, go to the stores around Piazza Santa Croce and especially the Scuola di Cuoio.
The Piazza della Signoria is a fantastic homebase for those who only want to spend a day in Florence and still take in as much as possible. The internet is a wealth of information about this Piazza, so I won't go too into detail.
Take a stroll around the Piazza in the morning, before the heat sets in (if traveling in the summer like I did). If you can, look at a schedule ahead of time. It just so happened that the day we went to Florence was some sort of holiday, and I'm still sketchy on the details. However, we had front-row spots to watch a parade of authentically garbed Renaissance paraders. It was great!
Later in the same afternoon, there was an Italian wedding in the Piazza, and we all snapped gorgeous pictures of the Bride and the party. However, even without this, the experience of the Piazza is not one to miss. Later in the day it floods with tourists and the street merchants seem to pop out of every crevice.
Unique Suggestions: Don't bother taking too many photos! Even with digital cameras, it's still easier to buy postcards of the big attractions. You can even write on the back while waiting for dinner so that nothing is forgotten!
Fun Alternatives: Don't miss Piazza della Signoria... just beware of tourists. As the heat rises and the crowds grow, tempers might flare. Plan to go in the morning or evening for gorgeous lighting in your pictures and to avoid crowds of high school tourists.
Funny thing... I've read about outlet here - on VT site. I also asked our hotel's owner. Everybody assured me that there is no chance to get there other than by a special shuttle. It costs 25 EUR and leaves twice a day from Savoy hotel. That's what I name tourist trap.
If you decided to pay 25 EUR be prepared to find there the same boutiques as in the centre of Florence. At least prices will not be much lower. I haven't seen there any fantastic bargain.
Fun Alternatives: There is no need to go there by shuttle - you can get an ordinary bus from the SITA office on Santa-Maria Novella station. It will cost you 6 EUR for return ticket. We spent only 1 hour in the outlet and was happy to get out. The only positive side of the trip was to see Tuscany with its magnificient scenery.
If you go into a gelateria and order an ice cream cone be sure to ask the price first. The cups are usually marked, but not the cones. I was about to buy a bottle of water in Perseo on Piazza Signoria when i heard the cashier tell the guy next to me that it was 24€ for two ice cream cones. I think the poor guy almost dropped them on the floor. Who would have ever believed that you can pay as much for an ice cream cone as a complete lunch at a tourist restaurant. Needless to say, I put the water back.
It was our 1st trip to Europe. At the train station in Florence a very nice elderly man offered to help walk our bags to a taxi and to recommend a hotel. We were never mugged or taken advantage of, but taken to a dumpy hotel were there was construction going on next door and across the street. We stayed ther for one night and took off first thing in the morning to find a better hotel.