- Where We Stay
- Getting There
- What to Pack
- Helpful Hints
- Your Guides
- Favorite Photos
HELPFUL ITALIAN HINTS:
Read up on Italian culture with these suggestions.
Green Guide—Italy | Michelin Publications | The Green Guide is a very handy reference guide with maps, information, hotels and easy reference
Italy, A Short History | Harry Hearder | Elegantly written, generous and enormously informative, this compact book takes in the sweep of Italian history from the Roman Republic, through the Renaissance, World War II, and up to the present.
http://www.italiantourism.com | The Italian Government Tourism Board site provides detailed information on traveling in Italy.
http://www.goitaly.about.com | A comprehensive site from About.com to vacationing in Italy, it includes everything from hotel and restaurant information to national news and regional information.
http://www.turismo.toscana.it/new/sitoinglese/apet.htm | A helpful site for all things Tuscan! Detailed information on every aspect of a visit to the region, with well-organized sections and helpful links to other sites.
http://www.terresiena.it | A great web site offering a wide range of information for the Siena region. Read up on the places you will visit on the trip and learn about the region.
http://www.visiteurope.com | The web site of the European Travel Commission with practical information about traveling in Europe as well as links to some commercial booking services.
WHAT TO SAY
Fortunately, getting around in Italy with little or no exposure to the Italian language is not very difficult. The Italians are, by nature, outgoing and often appreciate even the slightest attempt at communicating in Italian. Here are some useful words and phrases to help you get started:
Yes / No Si / No
Hello / Hi / Goodbye Ciao
Please Per Favore
Thank you Grazie
You’re welcome Prego
Excuse me Mi scuzi
I’m sorry Mi dispiaceGood morning Buongiorno
Good evening Buona sera
Good night Buona notteGoodbye Arrivederci
To the left A la sinistra
To the right A la destra
Straight ahead Sempre dritto
Scooter Moto, Motorini
TOP THINGS TO DO IN FLORENCE
#1 Florence’s most popular site is its Duomo (cathedral), the Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore. The huge Gothic duomo was begun in 1296, consecrated in 1436, and holds 20,000 people. Its exterior, made of green, pink, and white marble. Brunelleschi’s Dome is a masterpiece! It’s the perfect place to cool down from the sun.
The most famous monuments besides the Duomo include the
Campanile di Giotto (82-meter bell tower next to the Duomo and yes you can and should climb it)
Galleria dell’Accademia (where the real David is located).
Galleria degli Uffizi & the Vasari Corridor
Palazzo Pitti & the Boboli Gardens
Palazzo Vecchio (a visit to the tower is a must – think panoramic views of the city)
Brancacci Chapel, Piazza del Carmine (famous fresco by Masaccio)
Horne House Museum
Forte Belvedere (LOVE THIS ONE!)
Santa Maria Novella church
Santa Croce church
San Marco church (one of my favorites).
#2 The Campanile, bell tower, is in Piazza del Duomo. The first story was designed by Giotto and it is commonly called Giotto’s Campanile. Buy a ticket and climb the 414 stairs for great views of the Cathedral and its dome and the city of Florence and surrounding hillside.
#3 The Galleria degli Uffizi holds the world’s most important collection of Renaissance art. The Uffizi holds thousands of paintings from medieval to modern times and many antique sculptures, illuminations, and tapestries. Artists whose works you’ll see include Michelangelo, Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Perugino, and Raphael.
#4 Across from the Ponte Vecchio is the Giardino di Boboli, a huge park on a hillside in the middle of Florence behind the Pitti Palace. Here you’ll find beautiful gardens and fountains and a great view of Florence from the Forte Belvedere. Open daily at 8:15 with seasonal closing times.
#5 The Pitti Palace, Florence’s largest palazzo, was once the seat of the Medici family. The palace today is home to the Palatine Gallery, with more than 500 paintings, most from the Renaissance. Many might look familiar from a past art history course or a History Channel documentary on the Renaissance; the collection includes works by Titian, Perugino, Raphael, Correggio, and Rubens. Some of the rooms were frescoed by the famous Baroque artist Pietro da Cortona. The Palazzo Pitti also has several lesser-known collections, including museums devoted to silver, porcelain, modern art, and fashion.
#6 Florence has some of the finest shopping in Europe. In Florence you’ll find leather goods, paper goods, and jewellry as well as nice souvenirs and art productions. Florence has a number of open air markets selling food, clothing, and antiques. The most famous is around Piazza San Lorenzo where you’ll find leather goods, too. Another good place is Mercato Nuovo (Porcellino) on Via Porta Rossa. Mercato Centrale is a great place for food shopping or just looking.
Porcellino Market – think ‘wild boar’ in piazza Mercato Nuovo, Loggia del Porcellino. Open daily. Here you can get your 5 euros sarves, bags, purses, keychains and take a selfie with the most popular boar in town, don’t forget to rub his nose for good luck!
San Lorenzo Market around Piazza San Lorenzo (has recently been moved), but you can find it still off of via nazionale and the mercato centrale (plus behind). Here you will find a larger selection of tourist goods, not all made-in-italy but definitely fun to walk through. Open Daily.
The city’s flea market has now been moved to Largo Pietro Annigoni, and takes place every day but Sunday (except for the last Sunday which makes for a huge extension of the regular market). A fun place that I love to walk through and search for vintage sunglasses, old city keys, maps, record players that I cannot afford and you get my drift.
Antique Market at the Cascine park, not far from the Santa Maria Novella Train Station. This market is held on the third saturday and sunday of the month and is the mother of antique markets in Florence. You can find some real gems here.
Santo Spirito Market, Piazza Santo Spirito, every second Sunday of the month. I love this market because it’s in the oltrarno and I have often found cool stuff here to boot.
#7 Piazzale Michelangelo: This piazza boasts some of the best city views anywhere; it’s where you’ll need to go to get that perfect postcard picture of Florence. It sits atop a hill above the Oltrarno neighborhood, on the opposite side of the river from the Duomo. Built in 1869, this piazza is dedicated to Michelangelo and features replicas of some of his famous sculptures – including a large bronze David standing in the center of the square.
**We will drive you here on Day 1 of our trip** Once there in the same spot is Giardino Rose & San Miniato.
Giardino delle Rose (Rose Garden) houses a collection of roses, lemons, and other plants, as well as a Japanese garden. It contains about 400 varieties of roses for a total of about 1,200 plants.The garden was created in 1865 by Giuseppe Poggi, who also designed the piazzale, on behalf of the City of Florence in anticipation of moving the capital of Italy from Turin. It covers about one hectare of land which offers a panoramic view of the city, sandwiched between viale Poggi, via di San Salvatore and via dei Bastioni.
#8 San Miniato standing atop one of the highest points in the city of Florence is one of the finest Romanesque structures in Tuscany and one of the most scenic churches in Italy. There is an adjoining Olivetti monastery to the basilica where the monks sell herbal teas and special honey elixirs. The mosaics and frescoes inside the church are incredible.
The Cemetery from the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte by Hans von Bartels. Adjacent to the church is the cloister, planned as early as 1426 and built from 1443 to mid-1450s. It was designed by Bernardo and Antonio Rosselino. The whole complex is surrounded by defensive walls, originally built hastily by Michelangelo during the siege and in 1553 expanded into a true fortress (fortezza) by Cosimo I de’ Medici. The walls now enclose a beautiful large cemetery, the Porte Sante, laid out in 1854.
#9 San Marco Museum
One of my favorite churches in Florence, every-time I visit I am surprised it is so empty. This former Dominican convent is home to a plethora of important art, and architecturally is quite fascinating as well.
#10 Boboli Gardens
Looking for a bit of green during your Florence stay? At 11 acres, the Boboli Gardens make up one of the biggest public parks in central Florence. Laid out originally in the 16th century, the Boboli Gardens—which are attached to the Palazzo Pitti—are formal gardens, with a twist: They have outdoor sculptures including ancient Roman statues and, most famously, striking Mannerist works, including a grotto that was carved to look as if it was dripping with stalactites and houses copies of important Renaissance and Baroque works.
ITALIAN HISTORY AND BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Sent by email to those that register. You will be sent comprehensive trip literature upon making your deposit.