In other cities you visit museums. In Florence, the city itself is a museum, a dazzling indoor-outdoor exhibition of some of the greatest masterpieces ever created. Make smart choices and use your extra take time to linger in a café, wander into an artisan's shop or stop to listen, as I have, to a lone violinist playing on a bridge over the Arno. These may be the memories you savor most.
Florence is an atmospheric city with numerous world famous buildings and gothic, renaissance and medieval artworks. The best way to get to know the Tuscan capital in two days is a combination of bus rides and guided walking tours. Explore Florence by bus on your first day and visit the Uffizi Galleries and the Accademia. Go for a guided walking tour to the most famous and beautiful places of the city on your second day. Undertake a terrific day trip to Siena, San Gimignano and Chianti.
Sit down, relax and view the most beautiful sights of the Tuscan capital in a convenient way. With a Hop-on & Hop-off ticket you can get out at special places such as the Dome, the Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi Galleries, the Accademia and the Piazza Michelangelo and continue the tour with another bus.
Skip the line at the Uffizi Galleries afterwards. The world famous Museum offers numerous famous artworks by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raffael and Giotto. The highlights of the collection are the Primavera and the Birth of Venus by Botticelli.
You can also combine the viewing of the Uffizi Galleries with a visit of the Accademia delle Belle Arti. The Accademia houses the legendary collection of the Medici’s including numerous gothic and renaissance masterpieces. The highlight of the museum is Michelangelo’s David.
Explore the sightseeing highlights of Florence by foot in the Tuscan capital. If you’re short on time, you should go for a half day guided walking tour to the Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi Galleries and the dome. Admire the terrific Ponte Vecchio first. The old bridge was built in 1565 and houses numerous jewelry stores. Visit the beautiful cathedral and Giotto’s famous bell tower after a short stop at the Uffizi Galleries.
Even more interesting is a full day walking tour through Florence. Enjoy a terrific view on the Tuscan capital from the Piazza Michelangelo. Explore the beautiful historic city centre afterwards. Admire the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore topped by Brunelleschi’s dome, the Baptistery and Giotto’s famous bell tower. Go for an excursion to the Etruscan city of Fiesole after a visit of the Accademia. Return to Florence afterwards and view the Franciscan church of Santa Croce, the Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi Galleries.
Go for a day trip to Siena, San Gimignano and Chianti on the third day of your stay in Florence. Siena offers a beautiful architecture, artworks and museums. Visit the Romanesque-Gothic cathedral and the Piazza del Campo, where the famous Palio horse race takes place. San Gimignano is known as the city of the beautiful towers. Admire 14 medieval towers and the breathtaking architecture of the historic city center. The Chianti region offers a beautiful landscape including numerous vineyards and olive groves. Enjoy a delicious wine tasting and a lunch at a winery.
Nightlife in Florence
Not many people come to Florence for its nightlife, but that said, it doesn’t do too badly for a small place. Whether you are a serious opera buff or a dance crazy, all-night clubber, you’ll find something to do after a day slogging around the sights. Start your evening off at one of the many bars serving aperitivi and snacks (see Nightlife in Florence: how to have a good night out for the best) and move on to the next stage; there’s live music performances (classical music and opera, jazz, latin, rock ’n’ roll), cinema, dance venues or, in summer, al fresco bars where you can simply chill out until the wee hours.
To keep up with what’s hot and happening at night in the city, get hold of a copy of the monthly Firenze Spettacolo magazine (www.firenzespettacolo.it), where the listings are also in English, and the bi-weekly English language Florentine newspaper (www.theflorentine.net).
The city boasts flexible licensing hours - some pubs stay open until 0100 or even 0300. The most bohemian area is the Oltrarno, south of the river, Elsewhere, nightlife is concentrated around Piazza della Signoria, home of more sedate venues.
It seems that Florence could never lose her reputation as a city of culture. Visitors should keep an eye open for one-off recitations played in churches and piazzas around the city. The entertainment publication Firenze Spettacolo (www.firenzespettacolo.it) provides listings on entertainment in the city. Box Office Nuovo, Via Luigi Alamanni (tel: (055) 210 804), Via Porta Rossa 82r (tel: (055) 219 402), or Viale Giannotti 13r (tel: (055) 680 362) sells most other tickets.
Bars in Florence
Casa del Vino
This place is situated close to the central market and is a classic old-style enoteca (wine bar), all polished wood and tipples of Chianti.
Address: Via del Ariento 16R, Florence, Italy
Telephone: (055) 215 609.
La Dolce Vita
South of the river, long-time favourite La Dolce Vita retains its chic crown and is popular with students, who spill out onto the piazza.
Address: Piazza del Carmine, Florence, Italy
Telephone: (055) 284 595.
Le Volpi and L' Uve
For a glimpse of an authentic Italian watering hole, wend your way to Le Volpi and L' Uve to sample some of the best wines the region has to offer. The owners, Riccardo and Emilio, can advise a plate of salami and cheese to accompany your choice of wine, and there's a pretty terrace.
Address: Piazza de'Rossi 1, Florence, Italy
Telephone: (055) 239 8132.
Negroni invented every Italian clubbers' favourite drink back in the 1920s (gin, Campari and red Martini), and attracts an up-for-it 30-something crowd to its sleek, contemporary.interior for a dash of sophisticated nightlife in Florence.
Address: Via dei Renai 17r, Florence, Italy
Telephone: (055) 243 647.
Set by the river, this watering hole has a baroque-black interior, and its clientele spill out onto the riverbank for amazing sunsets over the Arno. A good spot for an apertivo.
Address: Lungarno Corsini 12-14r, Florence, Italy
Telephone: (055) 210 751.
Clubs in Florence
On the outskirts of Florence in Parco delle Cascine is Florence's superclub, with different floors offering changing vibes, from electronica to disco, and two outdoor dancefloors. It mainly attracts Florence's gilded youth. Transport can be difficult for those without a car.
Address: Via Fosso Macinante, Florence, Italy
Telephone: (055) 359 942.
This place is self-consciously stylish, and huge, with four indoor and outdoor dancefloors and six bars. The club regularly hosts theme nights too, so don't forget your fancy dress costume.
Address: Viale degli Olmi 1, Florence, Italy
Telephone: (055) 331 371.
Close to the Boboli gardens, Montecarla is all boudoir decadence and leopardskin seats. Its exotic decor attracts a loyal following. Be prepared to be impressed.
Address: Via de' Bardi 2, Florence, Italy
Telephone: (055) 234 0259.
This club in the Peretola district is a hip house club, favoured by a younger crowd, and has some great live concerts.
Address: Via Pratese, Peretola district, Florence, Italy
Telephone: (055) 632 958.
Live Music in Florence
Florence does not have a great deal of choice when it comes to live music but you can hear some good sounds at Be Bop, a much-loved retro cocktail bar specialising in live jazz, cover bands and funk.
Address: Via dei Servi 76, Florence, Italy
Telephone: (055) 295 230.
Girasol Latin Bar
Near the Fortezza is the red-hued Girasol Latin Bar, which has everything from Brazilian to Cuban beats.
Address: Via del Romito 1, Florence, Italy
Telephone: (055) 474 948.
Opera in Florence
Teatro della Pergola
Chamber music can be heard most weekends at the Teatro della Pergola, an ornate 17th-century theatre that also stages classical concerts and opera.
Address: Via della Pergola, Florence, Italy
Telephone: (055) 226 4353.
Dance in Florence
Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
If you want to see ballet, particularly during the Maggio Fiorentino festival, which is held at various venues throughout the year, you can get information and tickets from the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.
Address: Corso Italia 16, Florence, Italy
Telephone: (055) 277 9350 or 427 5367.
Theatre in Florence
Try this city theatre for a variety of performances from opera to new plays.
Address: Via delle Cascine, Florence, Italy
Telephone: (055) 362 067.
This is one of two chief venues for drama in Florence. Most performances are conducted in Italian, so a good understanding of the language is vital. Performances are typically productions of classic Italian dramas or foreign plays in translation, interspersed with the occasional contemporary production. Regular ballet performances also take place here.
Address: Via Ghibellina 99, Florence, Italy
Telephone: (055) 212 320.
When it comes to global contributions, perhaps no other country has factored into the lives of men around the world more than Italy. After all, “The Boot” has given us pizza, Ferraris, and Armani suits -- but any red-blooded gent would be hard-pressed to argue that Italy’s greatest gift to mankind has been generation after generation of stunningly beautiful women.
Famed for their sense of style and attractive looks, Italian women figure on the dating wish-list of almost every other guy. However if want them to give you are second look, it may help to keep certain things in mind about the way they think, live and love. So here are a few pointers on what Italian women are like and what they are looking for in a man.
Proud of their culture
Italy is a land of beauty, culture and tradition and here people are extremely proud of their history. So read up on the various geographic regions of Italy like Lombardy, Tuscany, Veneto and so on and remember what each is famous for. For instance don’t confuse the Chianti wine zone in Tuscany with the Barbera wine from Piedmont. And even if you cannot keep such details in mind, at least get an overview of the historical and cultural specialties of each region. The more you know about her home, the easier it will be for you to open a discussion with her and the sooner you will be able to impress her.
Great sense of style
It is well known that Italians are fashion conscious but here trends are led more by the women than the men. So if you intend to make a mark on Italian women, make sure you are well turned out. While it is great if you can afford and carry off a stylish jacket or an expensive pullover, but by no means should you forget the basics of grooming like clean teeth, well-cut nails, fresh breath, nicely brushed hair and polished shoes. Here women like their guys to be well-shaven and sport a nice cologne. At the same time don’t go overboard with accessories or you’ll end up appearing too desperate. Remember the golden mean – classy and not flashy. Italian women are famous for their beauty, natural charm and inherent sense of style, so make a serious effort to keep up with the higher standard for fashion in Italy.
Appreciate confidence in men
Italian women are not too keen on men who don’t know their minds or who appear indecisive. Rather they dig guys who are strong and self-assured. Your Italian girl needs to know you are reliable, you say what you mean and that you will always take care of her. Most Italian girls even welcome extra attention from men and are not offended if guys happen to appreciate their physical attractiveness. So go ahead and pay a couple of nice compliments to your Italian female friend and let her know that you are not afraid to show their true feelings at times. In fact she may even expect to be pursued a little and play hard-to-get for the same reason. However beneath you can be assured that there beats a heart that delights in love and romance.
Looking for respect
At the same time though, an Italian woman will not stand for any nonsense from a guy. Having got used to street-side guys whistling at passing girls, she knows very well when to give guys the cold shoulder. Essentially Florence women are looking for guys who are brimming with love and passion but also know how to treat a lady. They sincerely appreciate small acts of chivalry like holding the door open for a lady and taking her coat at the restaurant. So you better brush up your manners if you want to impress your Italian girlfriend. Even more importantly, an Italian woman expects her man to be loyal and devoted. There might be many stereotypes about Italian men cheating on their women, but it is rare to find any Italian woman now who will be taking that sort of thing in her stride. She wants a man who keeps his promises and sticks with one woman.
When it comes to impressing an Italian woman, nothing works better than speaking her language. You don't have to be fluent or have good pronunciation, but knowing a few words, especially in the context of dating, will go a long way.
The last and most important tip I can give you is to be confident. Italian women like strong, passionate men. They shy away from the weak. You may be intimidated, embarrassed or sick (hopefully not all at the same time) but don't let her know it or you're toast. If you want to meet other Italian girls, visit Rome at daytime or Venice at night.