Toscana - Tuscany


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Toscana - Tuscany

  1. 1. From Europe : Mediterranean : Italy : Tuscany : Florence Florence (Italian: Firenze) is the capital of the region of Tuscany in Italy, with a population of some 366488. The city is considered as a cultural, artistic and architectural gem. Understand Florence was very much the epicentre of the Italian Renaissance and remains one of the world's top attractions for lovers of art--as such, it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Located in the heart of Tuscany, a stunning province of hills and mountains, the Renaissance capital of the world, with famous sons like Leonardo, Dante, Machiavelli and Michelangelo, is a sight not to be missed. The world-famous Duomo with the Brunelleschi cupola and the marble clad baptistry are simply stupendous, but not all the monuments are like this. The streets of the historic town centre are often narrow and dark, the palaces robust and intimidating. But have a look at the squares - wonderful Mediterranean places where you will like spending hours sitting down, having a coffee and just watching people passing by. However, Florence is a city of incomparable pleasure concerning churches, monasteries, museums, galleries and palaces. Among the things you can't afford to miss are the Uffizi Galleries, one of the best art museums in the world, the Duomo, the Santo Spirito church and the Ponte Vecchio. To get a great overview of the city, you have plenty of choices: climb the "Cupolone" of the Duomo or the Giotto Tower, head for Piazzale Michelangelo in Oltrarno (other side of river Arno) or farther up to the church of San Miniato. Aeroporto di Firenze (IATA: FLR) has good connections to the center of the city, which can be reached in about fifteen minutes by taxi. The Ataf-Sita "Vola in Bus" ("Fly by bus") service costs €4 one way, and makes the circuit between the airport and the central train station about every half an hour from 5:30AM to 8:30PM, then once an hour afterwards. Much cheaper flights to destinations throughout Europe can be found at Pisa airport (only a €5.40 train journey from the centre of Florence). Low-cost airlines which fly to Pisa include Thomsonfly, Easyjet, Ryanair, Transavia and HLX. By train Local trains from other parts of Italy and express trains from around Europe arrive in Florence. The main station is Firenze Santa Maria Novella, on the edge of the historic old town. Other small stations are Firenze Campo Marte (near Florence Stadium) and Firenze Rifredi. If you take an Intercity train to Florence, you may need to change at Rifredi for another train to Firenze S.M.N. By car Florence is connected by good highways to the rest of Italy. Cars aren't allowed in the small old town centre, so plan on parking your car and leaving it for a while. Parking is expensive. There is a cheap open air parking facility between the "Fortezza da basso" and "Santa Maria Novella" railway station. On Sundays it's free! You can also find free parking at all hours at "Piazzale Michelangelo" on the south side of the - it's about a 20 min walk to city center (down the stairs and across the Arno). It has gorgeous views of the city as well. By bus Bus stops have clear, schematic labelling of the routes and are all named according to the street name or major landmark nearby. They do not always give an indication of bus times, however, so it is sometimes difficult to figure out how long it may take till the next bus arrives. Tickets must be bought in advance from Tobacconists or newspaper sellers, and are usually valid for one hour over the whole network, so that you can just hop on and off at will. They cost €1.20 for 60 minutes, and multiple day tickets are also available. Tickets are also available on the bus, sold by the driver, at an increased price of €2 (therefore, no more excuses in case of ticket control!). The official ATAF website includes maps and timetables. Get around Most of the major tourist sights in Florence are within easy walking distance of each other. Walking is not only an easy way to get around, it also offers the chance to 'take in' much more of the city life. Much of the town centre is blocked off to cars and anyway moving around in the city centre by car is definitely useless and not advised. Parking is also almost impossible in the city centre. A car can be useful only to reach some destinations just outside the city centre, like Fiesole or Settignano, which are however also connected by bus service. Be advised that at many tourist destinations parking can be difficult and at least expensive. Firenze and surroundings were not built for cars... Motor-bikes and bicycles are common; pay attention to them since they tend to behave in an apparently disorganised but efficient way, which can put the unsuspecting car driver into trouble. Some of the hotels actually provide their guest with free bicycles as well. There is also a bike rental service organised by the city. Bikes can be hired at several points in the city (and returned to the same place), among which the most convenient for tourists is located at SMN station (other locations are at all railway stations, but often with restricted opening hours). Bike shops also rent bikes and some of them organise guided bike tours in the countryside. Taxis are available, but it's best if you have your hotel or the restaurant you are eating at call ahead. Taxis can be called by phone and the nearest one available is sent to you through the company's radio system. In Florence you do not hail a cab from the street curb. You either call for one or get one at the very few taxi stands. One popular taxi stand is at the central Santa Maria Novella Train Station and in a few major squares. The first taxi in the taxi stand line should be free - ask in case of doubt. Be aware that some taxis may not take credit card for payment. Be sure to have cash and ask in advance in case you only have a credit card with you. Please note that taxis in Florence are relatively expensive. Another way of getting around is by using the public buses from ATAF. You can buy tickets at kiosks/newsagents/bars where the symbol "Biglietti ATAF" is shown, as well as at the ATAF ticketing office at the bus station outside Santa Maria Novella train station. Several ticket options are available. One very convenient is the 4-rides ticket and the "Carta Agile". The former needs to be stamped when entering the bus (from the front and rear doors of buses - the central door is supposed to be exit only; though now it is more accepted to enter from the central door). The latter has an embedded electronic chip and needs to be held close ("swiped") to the upper part of the ticket machine inside the bus: the "beep" of the machine will inform you that a ticket has been paid and the display will show you how many more tickets ("swipes") you have left. Within 1hr of stamping/swiping you can hop-off & hop-on on any bus of the urban ATAF network. Unfortunately and completely against italian law, it is not uncommon to see bus drivers talking merrily on their mobile phone while driving. Don't expect riders to complain about it and don't panic - they will still drive with the same non-comfortable style as when they are "only driving". Hold tight to hand rails as Florence traffic is very unpredictable and frequent sudden breaking is necessary. Bus rides are not by all means "smooth". Buses are "safe" but pick pocketing is quite common. Please keep a close eye to your belongings and avoid showing off cash/jewerly/etc. especially in very crowded buses (especially for lines 17/23/14/22 - generically speaking any crowded bus can give a chance to pick pocket). Italy Segway Tours, Via dei Servi 13, ☎ +39 055 2398855 (, fax: 055). from=9:00 a.m. to 18:00 from Monday to Saturday. Have fun gliding through the timeless streets of the Renaissance Pearl that is Florence and discover all her wonders on the coolest ride of the 21st century! Our 3 hour tours are limited to 6 and a minimum of 2 clients, so we guarantee an intimate and unique experience. Price 75 €. Walking Tour, Via dei Cimatori 9/r angolo Piazza de' Cerchi, ☎ +39 055 215358 ( from=9:00 a.m. to 18:00 every day. One and a half hours of audio, walking through the centre of Florence, on your own, browsing along streets, piazzas and shops, accompanied every step of the way by AudioGuide. With AudioGuide, discover a Florence that others can’t show you. Price 12 €. Guides in Florence, Via Verdi, 10, ☎ +39 347 7378374 (, fax: 055 2480902). from=9:00 a.m. to 18:00 every day. Walk down its medieval alleys and historical piazzas seeing its antique workshops, the homes of the artists, the basilicas and all the most important churches. Walking Tour - Dante's Florence, Via Toscanella 33R, ☎ +39 331 904 9410 ( Are you up for a walk around the center? This is not an introduction to the city's history, but rather an enriching experience for someone already familiar with the history of Florence or the text of the Divine Comedy. With Florence's Dante plaques as our guide we will trace the poet's ascent from the lower circles of hell to the heights of paradise, beginning with the house of Fillipo Argenti (instrumental in Dante's exile) and ending at the famous Baptistery where Dante himself was christened in 1265 and where he vows to don his famous wreath if he ever returns from exile: Sei mai continga...vinca le crudelta che fuor mi serra... in sul fonte del mio battesmo prendero il cappello. But of course he never returned, and to this day the magnificent sepulcher which bears his name lies empty in the Basilica of Santa Croce. Join us as we discover Dante's Florence. A 3-hour tour is 150.00 Euro, group size notwithstanding. See FlorenceForFun, Via della Pergola, ☎ 0552476605. M-F 12-6. FlorenceForFun is a student oriented event planning company and travel agency, working specifically with the International Student Community. They offer various services to students studying abroad, such as cooking and wine classes, sports events, tours and excursions in and around Italy, and soon all of Europe — all at a discounted student rates. It’s great if your trying to get the most out of your time abroad, on a budget. Museums The Uffizi is the most famous, but Florence also has other amazing museums a short walk away with world class artistic treasures. Galleria degli Uffizi FlorenceThe Galleria degli Uffizi - Piazzale degli Uffizi, 50122. Tel. 055 294883. Tu-Sun, 8.15 am - 6.35 pm. Justly one of the world's most famous fine art museums. The collections of Renaissance paintings and sculptures from classical antiquity are superb. Included is The Birth of Venus by Sandro Boticelli. There are often long lines (several hours' wait is not uncommon) since even before the doors are open. Useful tip: you can call (055 2654321) and make a reservation in advance and walk right in, or buy reserved tickets at the door. This is strongly recommended. The restaurant/caffè has a large balcony overlooking the main piazza with good views of the Palazzo Vecchio. It is a great place to take a break for art lovers making a non-rushed visit to this fantastic collection. This cafe is rather expensive however. Street performers are often seen outside the Uffizi. Admission €10.00 (advance booking: €4). Bargello. Officially The National Museum of the Bargello, this museum houses one of the best examples of Renaissance and Mannerist sculpture. The works of many great Renaissance sculpters are on display here, including Michelangelo, Donatello, Ammannati, Bandinelli, Andrea and Jacopo Sansovino, Desiderio da Settignano, Giambologna, and Antonio Rossellino. The museum is located near Piazza della Signoria and can be seen in a few hours. Admission is €4. Accademia. More sculpture, highlights are Michelangelo's David and the unfinished Slaves. The David was recently cleaned in a controversial project. No photography is allowed inside. Wait times can be under one hour in the off-season. It is possible to reserve at the academia in advance and save yourself the long line. Admission is €10 (advance booking: €4). Pitti Palace. On the quieter south bank of the Arno. The former Medici family palace contains galleries of their art and treasures. The Boboli gardens behind the palazzo offer wonderful walks and excellent views of the city and the countryside south of the city. Museo dell'Opera del Duomo - the Cathedral Museum, with artworks formerly in the Duomo and surrounding religious buildings, including sculptures by Donatello and the losing entries in the contest to design the doors of the Baptistery. Models and drawings of the Cathedral. Worthy. Institute and Museum of the History of Science. This museum shows the evolution of the instruments used in various scientific fields such as Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Astronomy. The room of Galileo Galilei shows some of his original instruments as well as models from his drawings. The room of Spheres and Globes houses an excellent cartographic collection. For those making longer stays in Florence, the city also has an interesting archaeological museum (the Etruscan art collection is particularly good), a Contemporary Art gallery, and other collections. Other sights American Cemetery of Florence: Arlington-like United States WWII military cemetery. Expansive and beautiful, 6,000 United States soliders laid to rest, fallen in the campaign to liberate Italy from fascism. 20 minute bus ride from the Sita Station, just ask agent (get a return ticket) no cost to enter. In the old town center: Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo di Firenze is the city's beautiful cathedral, the symbol of the city. Brunelleschi's huge dome was an engineering feat of the rennaissance. A statue of Brunelleschi is sited in the piazza, with his figure looking upwards towards his dome. Giotto's Tower - adjacent to the Duomo, you can climb the tower for a magnificent 360-degree view of the Duomo, Florence, and the surrounding area.€6 entrance fee, and requires some tenacity to climb 414 steps. Baptistery famous for the Paradise door and beautiful interior. Palazzo Vecchio - old city palace/city hall, adorned with fine art. The replica of Michelangelo's "David" is placed outside the main door in the original location of the statue, which is a symbol of the Comune of Florence. Ponte Vecchio the oldest and most famous bridge over the Arno; the only Florentine bridge to survive WW2. The Ponte Vecchio (literally "old bridge") is lined with shops, traditionally mostly jewellers since the days of the Medici. Vasari's elevated walkway crosses the Arno over the Ponte Vecchio, connecting the Uffizi to the old Medici palace. Santa Croce church contains the monumental tombs of Galileo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Dante, and many other notables in addition to artistic decorations. There is also great artwork in the church. And when you're done seeing that, a separate charge will gain you admission to the Museo dell'Opera di Santa Croce, where you can see a flood-damaged but still beautiful Crucifix by Cimabue (Giotto's teacher), which has become both the symbol of the flooding of Firenze in 1966 and of its recovery from that disaster. The Pazzi Chapel, a perfectly symmetrical example of sublime neo-Classic Renaissance architecture is also worth visiting. Santa Maria Novella, near the train station, is a beautiful church and contains great artwork, including a recently restored Trinity by Masaccio. Also, the Chiostre Verde, to your left when facing the front entrance of the church, contains frescos by Paolo Uccello which are quite unusual in style and well worth seeing, if the separate entrance is open. Off of the church's cloister is the wonderful Spanish Chapel which is covered in early Renaissance frescoes. Orsanmichele the beautiful old church of the Medici, converted from it's original purpose as a grainery. San Lorenzo the facade of this church was never completed, giving it a striking, rustic appearence. Inside the church is pure Renaissance neo-classical splendor. If you go around the back of the church, there is a separate entrance to the Medici chapels. Be sure to check out the stunning burial chapel of the princes and the sacristy down the corridor. The small sacristy is blessed with the presence of nine Michelangelo sculptures. San Marco Convent (1436) houses frescoes by Fra Angelico and Fra Bartolomeo in a series of dormitory cells in which the Dominican monks lived. On the south bank of the Arno: A statue at the Boboli GardensBoboli Gardens, elaborately landscaped and with many interesting sculptures, behind the Pitti Palace. Wonderful city views. Santa Maria del Carmine has famous frescos (Masaccio’s Adam and Eve Banished From the Garden and others by Lippi and Masolino) in the Brancacci Chapel Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo square) plaza on a hilltop with a great view of the city (go there by bus) or climb the stairs and paths from the Lungarno della Zecca. San Miniato al Monte, uphill from Piazzale Michelangelo, contains a chapel with frescoes by Spinello Aretino. On the cemetry near this church there are graves of famous people of Florence, including Carlo Lorenzi (Collodi) - author of the famous Pinocchio. Santa Trinita, on the Oltrarno side of the Ponte Vecchio, contains frescos by the brilliant and weird mannerist painter, Pontormo, which are to your immediate right when entering. Do See art, eat, drink, see more art, hear music, shop, take a day trip into the Tuscan countryside, people watch, climb to the top of the Duomo or Campanile, see more art, eagerly plan for your return visit. Take a stroll in the Boboli gardens, stop in the hilltop cafe, grab a drink and a seat outside and enjoy the view! Go to the "Piazzale Michelangelo" and enjoy the really nice view. It's a big square on a hill, but somewhat distant from the traditional tourist sites. It's easy to reach it even on foot using the stairs called "Rampe di San Niccolò". They are on the side of the Arno river just in front of the national library. Do this thing during the summer and during the night to admire Florence's lights. Get a bike and get out of Firenze. There are magnificent places to ride around the city. Unfortunately, the landscape of the places worth a ride are usually hilly or even mountainous, therefore you need a little of training and stamina most of the times (but effort is not always strenuous and if the road goes too much uphill, you can take it easy or even dismount). Best destinations are in the Chianti area, where you can fully enjoy the hills and the elegance of the landscape surrounding you, which has been taken care of endlessly through centuries. Strong scents can be enjoyed in Spring. The warm temperatures and usually stable weather in the good seasons can make the ride even more enjoyable. If you feel more energetic, ascents to Vallombrosa from Pontassieve through Tosi can be very enjoyable. You start from the Arno river plain and you end up in a thick, shady, fresh forest. In all cases, avoid the hottest hours in Summer and be aware of the traffic, which can be heavy and not cyclist-savvy, until you get in secondary or less populated roads. Learn The Cultural Center for Foreigners at the University of Florence offers 5 to 10 week courses in Italian language and culture. The preparatory course is suitable for people with no previous knowledge of Italian. The courses are taught entirely in Italian, i.e., they are totally immersive. The staff can help you find student accommodation. Beaded Lily Glass Works. Glass Beadmaking Courses. Learn how to make glass beads in the heart of Florence, Italy's artisan district, the Oltrarno. Our bead making courses introduce students to both basic and advanced lampworking techniques and help pave the way towards finding your own artistic voice. Learn to cook Italian Cuisines. Good Tastes of Tuscany, a wonderful cooking school in Florence, Italy which allows you to take home the recipes of Italian delights. Buy Souvenirs related to art and Florence's sights can be found everywhere. Shops that are not located in the very centre of the city are significantly cheaper. Books, leather goods, art handcrafted journals, frames, pencils etc. in that gorgeous Florentine paper with swirls of color and gold. Better stores in/near the city center offer superb leathers at sometimes decent prices...perhaps after some bickering. Goldsmiths on the Ponte Vecchio display beautiful and quality work, but can be very expensive. Some of the most uniquely Florentine shops and sights can be found in the Oltrarno, which is Florence's "left bank" and home to countless generations of artisans. This section of town can be found by crossing "Ponte Vecchio" (the old bridge) or Ponte Trinità from the center. This "undiscovered" Florence is a must-see! Beware: If the police catches you while buying a knock-off version of something with a brand from an (illegal) street vendor, you can be fined up to €10,000. You'll see plenty of people on the street selling imitation Gucci sunglasses, Rolex watches, and Prada purses for dirt cheap. It's okay if the item doesn't have a real brand on it, but buying a knock-off is illegal. Madova, 1R Via Guicciardini, ☎ +39 055 239 6526. A classic for Italian gloves. edit Enoteca Mondovino, Via S. Agostino 27-29/R, ☎ +39 055 215214. Decent wine and Liquor store with interesting collection of potable bitters in the back (Italian and German). Beaded Lily Beads & Designer Jewelry, Sdrucciolo Dei Pitti 13R (In the Oltrarno - On Sdrucciolo between Palazzo Pitti & Piazza Santo Spirito), ☎ +39 331 904 9410 ( An inspiring array of unique beading delectables and handmade designer jewelry. Now offering glass beadmaking courses! Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, Via della Scala 16 N. An old farmacy, which sells high-qualitiy beauty products like soaps, shaving cream, eau de Cologne,... Pitti Vintage - Italian & European Vintage Clothing & Accessories, Sdrucciolo Dei Pitti 19R (In the Oltrarno - On Sdrucciolo between Palazzo Pitti & Piazza Santo Spirito), ☎ +39 055 230 2676 ( Fendi, Ferragamo, Gucci, Lancetti, Valentino... At Pitti Vintage we specialize in Italian and European designer and one-of-a-kind vintage pieces! Eat Remember that restaurants have separate prices for food to go or eaten standing up versus sit down service; don't try to sit at a table after paying for food or coffee from the restaurant's to go booth. Also ask always beforehand for the price if you want to sit at a table. Otherwise you might be uncomfortably surprised. Cappuccino al banco i.e. standing up might cost €1-3; but at a table €4. Florence's food can be as much of a treat to the palate as the art is a treat to the eye! There is good food for any price range, from fine restaurants to take out food from window stands. The best price/quality ratio you will find outside the historical center where normal Italians go to eat. The worst ratio is probably in the neighbourhood of Mercato di San Lorenzo where there are a lot of tourist restaurants, while many of the best restaurants in the city are found in the Santa Croce district. In some, requests for pizza may be met with a rebuff. Typical Tuscan courses include Bistecca alla fiorentina which is huge t-bone steak weighing from 500 to 1500 grams. It has always price given per 100 grams e.g. 3,5€ etto (etto is "hecto" pronounced in Italian). Crostini toscani are crostini with tuscan liver paté. There are many gelato (Italian ice cream) stands; some connoisseurs consider the better Florentine gelato the finest in the world. Many times gelato is made in the bar where you buy it. Because of this there are many exotic tastes of ice cream like watermelon, spumante or garlic. Tuscany is also the wellspring of cantuccini, also called biscotti di Prato. (Please note that in Italian, the singular of biscotti is un biscotto.) It's traditional to enjoy them after a meal by dipping them in Vin Santo ("Holy Wine"), a concentrated wine made from late-harvested grapes, but you can also buy bags of them in stores throughout the city and eat them however you like. Budget There are numerous caffè and pasticcerie where you can find excellent sandwiches. Pizza sold by weight is an equally excellent solution for budget dining, as is any caffè displaying a "Primi" card in its window where you'll find pastas and other dishes at low reasonable prices. The delis (rosticcerie) are very affordable (and the food is often quite good), and some also have dining tables if you don't want to take away. A general rule: the closer you are to the historic old town, the higher the price. I fratellini, Via dei Cimatori, 38R. Nothing but the essentials: panini and wine from a tiny hole in the wall. Oil Shoppe, Via S. Egidio 22r; Tel 0552001092. This quaint deli has affordable (€3-4) hot and cold sandwiches made with a variety of meats, sauces and fresh vegetables. It is open from 10.30 in the morning to whenever the bread (white, wheat and sub rolls) runs out, which is usually between 6 and 7 in the evening. During the peak period of February to June, it can get very crowded in the day with students, but their love for the sandwiches there is apparent in their loyalty. A good mid-day meal to take with you on the go as you explore Florence, Via S. Egidio is not too far off the beaten track. The Oil Shoppe also sells its own extra virgin olive oil, which they generously use in their sandwiches. Marios The restaurant opens for lunch and they sit you with other people walking into the restaurant. There is a menu on the wall and the food is great and if you can, save room for a secondi (meat plate). Mid-range Trattoria da Garibaldi, Piazza del Mercato Centrale 38r ; Tel. 055 21 22 67. Birreria Centrale, Piazza Cimatori 1r ; Tel. 055 21 19 15. Trattoria Baldini, Via della Scala Trattoria Anita, Via del Parlascio, 2r; Tel. 055 218698 "Il Latini" Restaurant, Via dei Palchetti, 6r, 055-210-916. You actually are seated at a table with other people and that is the fun of the restaurant. The owner visits each table and everyone is in a great mood. It is the combination of all that is mentioned above plus the personalities of the waiters make it a fun place to eat, visit and enjoy the whole Florentine experience. At 7:30PM when it opens, you will see a crowd outside the restaurant trying to be first in line - even with reservations! Don't panic. The restaurant is bigger than it looks. Even if you do wait, they bring you wine and cheese to those in line. The line is worth it. You might try and ask the owner if you could see the cellar because that is where there is a small private dining area for wine lovers (group party) and the wine is stored there. "Palle d'Oro", Via S. Antonino, 43/45R, Tel. 055 288383. Three generations of the same family have managed the restaurant, started as a wine seller (they have also been producing wine). They specialize in Tuscany traditional food. Quality of food is excellent, since they not only are good cookers, but also use very good quality ingredients. Trattoria Cammillo, Borgo San Jacopo 57/R (near the fountain at the 5 way dangerous intersection south of the river), ☎ 055 212427. closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Fairly good Tuscan cuisine, with a number of options for vegetarians and vegans. Make reservations or arrive at 7pm. edit Splurge Restaurant Terrazza Brunelleschi Piazza Unità Italiana, 6 - 50123 Florence. Ph. +39.055.23580 - Fax +39.055.23588895. From the Panoramic "Terrazza Brunelleschi" Restaurant you can catch all of Florence in a glimpse: the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore designed by Brunelleschi and Giotto's famous campanile, the roofs of the age-old buildings of the historical center and the green hills that surround the city on the horizon. Enoteca Pinchiorri Via Ghibellina, 87 - 50122 Florence. Ph. +39 055 242777. Situated in the center, near Santa Croce, perhaps the most expensive and exclusive winery and restaurant in Florence. You will choose from a selection of the best Italian wines. Expect to spend more than €100 each, but according to your wine taste, it can easily reach much higher prices. You will be presented with separate bills for the food and for the wine. Il Cibreo Via Dei Macci, 118/R - 50122 Florence, Ph. +39 055 234 11 00 - Fax +39 055 244 966. In the center near Santa Croce. Vast and great choice of Tuscan food, with highly selected ingredients. €50-100 each. Dessert Gelateria dei Neri, Via dei Neri 20r. Ice cream in many flavors, some experimental, all excellent. Vivoli, Via Isole delle Stinche, 7/R; Tel 055 292 334. Close to Piazza Santa Croce. Widely considered the best gelato in Florence, but has become a little touristy. Perché No! - The best Gelato in town - freshly made daily from quality ingredients. E.g. pear will be made with real pears and will taste of pears. Typically fruit flavors will be made with seasonal available fruits. Chocolate flavor will taste of cocoa rather than chocolate milk-powder - if you are a chocolate fan, this is the place to go. Specialties are "sorbetto" (ice cream made with water rather than milk - both fruit and standard flavors) and "mousse" ice creams. Ask for the "special" taste of the day. In Via dei Tavolini 19. Drink Tap water is obviously safe and the taste is now good enough (it got really nasty right after the flooding and stayed so for many years), but those who still prefer bottled water will find it plentiful. Sample the excellent wines of the region. Mid-range Uffizi Museum The bar at this museum offers an amazing view overlooking la Piazza della Signoria, but it's only accessible through the museum, so you'll have to buy a ticket. Irish Pub Piazza Santa Maria Novella. Splurge Rivoire Piazza della Signoria. Founded in 1872 this terrace facing the Palazzo Vecchio is a Florentine institution. Paszkowski or Gilli. Situated on the Piazza Republica, next to the hotel Savoy. Note that the terrasses on the other side of the piazza are equally pricey. Sleep As elsewhere the price of hotels in Florence has been climbing quickly in the last few years. The golden rule here is if you want something cheap you'll have to stay outside of the historic center. The area around the train station is cheaper, but not as safe, especially for women travelers at night. If you are looking at big chain hotels you should be aware that they are usually quite a ways out indeed, the Novotel for instance is almost at the airport. Certain hotels, particularly those oriented toward business travelers offer special reduced rates during the weekend (eg. Starhotel Michelangelo) or during slow weeks like Baglioni. Sometimes you can also get a substantial discount by reserving online. In the train station there is a tourist information office which also offers hotel reservations; you can often get good deals through them at the very last minute, but it's not guaranteed. Budget There are quite a number of one or two-star alberghi within a short distance of the station. Young women can find accommodation with certain convents at very low prices, and usually in historic locations. On the other hand, you'll have to forget about any late-night Tuscan crazyness. Camping Camping Michelangelo has a scenic location on the hillside close to Piazza Michelangelo. Usually it is very crowded. It has "house tents" available, which are tents for two people with bunk beds inside. Hostel Hostel Archi Rossi - Via Faenza, 94r. Tel. 055 290804 - Fax. 055.2302601 - Never mind the renaissance-kitsch walls. This hostel is close to the SM Novella train station and not far from the city's main attractions. More importantly: rooms are clean and rates include breakfast and round the clock internet access. Rates from €18 (dorm) Hostel 7 Santi - Viale Dei Mille, 11 Tel. 055.5048452 - Fax 055.5057085 - A recently converted 19th century convent in the Campo di Marte area, 10 min from the center by bus. Rooms are clean and quiet - no earplugs necessary! Rooms start at €18 (dorm) Rental At Home In Florence, Via Ancillotto 9, ☎ +39 338 8827232 (, fax: +39 011 19793842). Rent an apartment in town and feel ... At Home in Florence. Bellavista Apartment situated in the centre of Florence. Florence Villas. Offers vacation apartments and villa rentals in and around Florence. A good resour
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