Fabulous Fun in Florence

by Angelina Morino, World Traveller

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Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany.  Considered the birthplace of Renaissance, Firenze as it is called by locals, is a melting pot of traditional and historical elegance and beauty infused with high end fashion, world-renowned eateries and extremely stylish locals. It was certainly one of my favourite cities. Florence will capture your heart and leave you begging for more. Simple. Leave your map behind and get lost.

Language: Italian

Currency: Euro

Climate: Freezing Winters (Dec – Feb) and Super Hot Summers (Jun – Aug/Sept)

What is there to do in Florence?

SIGHTS

Uffizi Gallery

Under no circumstances should you go to Florence and not see the Grand Uffizi Gallery. An incredible museum that has SO much to offer. It’s size is mind-boggling, if you are able to organise a guided tour, I highly recommend it. Housing the world’s greatest masterpieces by the Master’s themselves, Boticelli, Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Caravaggio to name a few, the Uffizi will blow your mind. An entire day can be spent ‘ooohhing’ and ‘aahhing’ within its walls, however, if you are a bit of a hardcore art fan – two days are even better! Tip: pre-book tickets to avoid the Disneyland long lines.

Galleria Dell Accademia Via Ricasoli 60

The Statue of David

The Statue of David

Bring a water bottle, some snacks and prepare yourself for the queue, you better be in it for the long-haul. Particularly busy in the Summer months, a lengthy queue marks the otherwise inauspicious entrance to the museum, built especially to hold a single masterpiece, Michelangelo’s David. Sneaky photos are the only way to capture the moment (I was asked to leave the museum after my fourth photo) – totally worth it for that ass though. There is certainly more to David (other than obvious) that meets the eye. He has been sculpted in a Renaissance style and was created between 1501 and 1504 by the Great Italian artist, Michelangelo. He stands tall at 5.17 metres, made entirely of marble and is representational of the biblical hero David. It is believed that this depiction of David, tense and ready for combat, represents him before his battle with Goliath. For those playing at home…He is uncircumcised, which is considered commonplace with Renaissance art. mmm…look at that rear.

Duomo (Church) Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore Piazza del Duomo

 Duomo Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore Piazza del Duomo

Duomo Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore Piazza del Duomo

Taking nearly 150 years to complete in the Gothic Architecture style, the inside of the church is surprisingly minimalist, to my understanding most of the works that were once in the church, have been moved to a nearby museum. It is worth climbing up to the cathedral dome to appreciate the marble staircase and the stunning views. Part of the UNESCO world Heritage it was completed in 1463 and is still the world’s largest brick dome.

Ponte Vecchio

Translating to ‘Old Bridge’ the Ponte Vecchio is a Medieval stone-closed Arch Bridge. After initial versions of the bridge were destroyed due to natural disasters, its current construction was completed in 1345. It has a main arch span of 30 metres and the rise of the arch is 3.5 and 4.4 metres. Interesting tidbit! It is said that the economic concept of bankruptcy originated here: when a merchant could not pay his debts, the table on which he sold his wares (the “banco”) was physically broken (“rotto”) by soldiers, and this practice was called “bancorotto” (broken table; May have come from ”banca rotta” which means “broken bank”). Not having a table anymore, the merchant was not able to sell anything.

Palazzo Pitti

The Pitti Palace was the home for the ruling families of Tuscany. The construction of the palace was commissioned in 1458 by the Florentine banker Luca Pitti. It amassed a great collection of prized and luxurious items and was the Power Base in the late 18th Century. Today it is open to the public as a gallery.

Firenze Street Markets

The streets of Florence

The streets of Florence

There are myriads of fantastic leather markets that line the quaint cobblestone pathways of Firenze. Specializing in Leather handbags, shoes, wallets, purses and everything in between in more colours than you knew existed, there is certainly something here for every member of the family. San Lorenzo Market, near the Duomo, is a crowd favourite encompassing the essence of a busy market, don’t forget to haggle and keep an eye on your handbag and pockets – Open daily besides Sunday. For the cheapest and freshest produce head to the fantastic Farmer’s Market in Santa Croce at Piazza Ghiberti. Open daily from 7am – 2pm. Those who are into serious antique shopping should amble over to Piazza Santo Spirito on the second Sunday of the month when along with local artisans, dealers from far and wide fill the streets in and around this popular Piazza with their antique wares.

Hungry? Starving? Famished?

Traditionally Tuscan!

Il Chicco Di Caffe Via della Chiesa 16r (only open for lunch)

Communal tables, simple pasta and roast meat dishes, delicious no muss, no fuss Tuscan delights. The Nonna in the kitchen shines with her grilled vegetable dish and the meals are more than affordable. A delightful, quaint and very Italian experience!

Is it for the Vino? All’Antico Ristoro di’ Cambi Via Sant’Onofrio 1r

Founded as a wine shop in the 50’s, this delightful restaurant specialises in bistecca alla fiorentina or as we know it, Florentine T-Bone Steak and a list of Tuscan wines as long as my arm.

Dont miss the Gelati!

Gelateria Dei Neri Via dei Neri 26r

With a myriad of delicious flavours, both contemporary (gorgonzola?!) and traditional (Choc-Chip), Gelateria Dei Neri is the place to be in order to satisfy that gelati craving.

Think you cant get Vegetarian food? think again!

Il Vegetariano Via delle Ruote 30r – lunch Tue-Fri, lunch & dinner Sat & Sun, closed Aug

This self-services, communal dining experience serves the the best Rugged and rustic Vegetarian cuisine in town. Build your own Salad and have a carb-free day!

Is it Happy Hour yet?!

Is it happy hour yet?

Is it happy hour yet?

Walking through the city all day, taking in the beauty of Florence, your tootsies will be tired and your whistle a little parched. Pull up a stool and plonk yourself at the bar. Order a round, sit back, relax and muse over the daily offerings. If you are lucky enough to have some beaming sunshiny weather, grab a table outdoors and watch the uber stylish teeter past on their skyhigh heels. And don’t forget – Tabletop dancing is encouraged. So get up there.

Here are a few places to get you started:

La Colle Bretto Piazza Strozzi 5r

“I want to see real Italians in real life and not a bunch of tourists…”

Head to La Colle Bretto, for real Italian fun. Not usually frequented by tourists instead teeming with non-pretentious locals, loud music, sweaty bodies, drinks all round and hot dancing. Happy hour from 730 to 9pm at the Aperitif Bar.

La Dolce Vitta 8am – 2am Tues-Sun, Piazza del Carmine 6r

The youth (and not so young) of the city’s most style conscious gather here to show off their latest designer gear. A trendy, up-market bar perfect for people watching whilst listening to some cool tunes and enjoying an appertivo.

La Rotonda 730pm – 1 Via il Prato 10-16 Santa Maria Novella

Spread over two floors. Part pub, part music bar (sometimes with live music), it offers simple pub fare and attracts a largely Italian crowd.

Accommodation:

Wooh!

Wooh!

Head on over to http://www.hostelworld.com or http://www.airbnb.com for a wide variety of sleeping options to suit budgets of any kind!

Ambling through the cobblestoned streets of Firenze will leave you lusting after this glorious city for years to come. Boasting some of the world’s most renowned galleries, offering delicious local delights and providing a home to incredibly stylish and well presented inhabitants, Florence has the soul of an intelligent, funny and gorgeous well-heeled woman with a passion for fine wine and great food. You meet her once and never get her off your mind.

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 With a career spanning Design, Aviation and now Health & Fitness, Angelina is never satisfied sitting still. When she isn’t squirreling away at another zany idea she is trekking the globe on the pursuit for the path less traveled …Visit Angelina’s store The Haus of Health

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