City of Stone
Beach in Florence
If you are staying in Florence pack a swimming costume, because the city now sports a beach. The council decided to use part of the river bank of the Arno for an idyllic relaxation area in the summer, free of charge and just a short walk from the city centre. Should anyone feel like a beach holiday in Florence, visitors can use deck chairs, sun beds and umbrellas. There is no hire charge, but you just have to produce a form of ID and you can also play beach volley, take the children to the special play area, sunbathe and cool off with a cold shower or sit under the wooden gazebo, which is complete with vaporizers.
There is more of a breeze by the river than elsewhere in the city, and it is wonderful to relax and admire Florence from this rather unique spot. The beach in Florence is open daily from 10am to 10pm and locals and visitors are under the subtle supervision of the Civil Protection Agency, lifeguards and Red Cross.
Camping in Florence
As with the rest of the facilities in this lovely part of Tuscany, camping holidays in Florence are about comfort and style. Most of the sites offer trailers, mobile homes or little bungalows in which up to six people can sleep in, although quite a few sites do offer spaces to pitch tents or for people to park their own trailers.
There are campsites all over Florence and Tuscany, and the beautiful countryside in the region offers visitors spectacular views and scenery. All the sites provide city maps (often free of charge), luggage storage before and after check-in and pillows and blankets. It costs extra for breakfast. The staff are very helpful and glad to assist you in planning your holiday by giving you all the information you need about Florence, the Chianti region and also about nice camping in Siena, Pisa, Rome and Venice. Campsites in Florence are always clean, well presented, have cafes, shops and garages - and are near to the centre – unless of course you’d rather book further out. A space for a small, two-man tent will cost around 20 euros a night and a bungalow for two will be around 40-50 euros a night.
Disabled Needs in Florence
Many of the hotels in Florence do have wheelchair access, and it is always advisable to make enquiries with your choice of hotel before you book, as they all differ. This is a very busy city and most people get around on foot, as the centre is quite small in comparison to other European cities. Most of all the major museums, monuments, palazzos, churches, and parks are likely to be at least partially accessible and many restaurants and stores have a threshold step of anywhere between two to eight inches.
The proprietors are willing to lift your wheelchair, although they may require instructions on how to do it. Trattorias often have tables on the pavement, so you can enjoy your meals outdoors and you will avoid barriers, as well as being able to take in the stunning surroundings. A holiday for disabled people in Florence could be more accessible but things are always improving. Just make sure you ask all the questions you need to before booking.
City Breaks in Florence
City breaks in Florence are very popular with those wanting to spend a long weekend looking around the art galleries. After all, this is the city of Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Galileo and the powerful Medici family which ruled the city from the 14th to the 18th century and were the people who first brought talented artists to the area. Florence has one of the world's best collections of art museums and galleries, beautiful churches and piazzas, including the Boboli Garden, which is a perfect spot in which to wind down during a hectic break in Florence.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by the city’s spectacular sights, why not stop for coffee at Piazza della Signoria, the city's thrilling centre. It may not be the cheapest place to take a break, but it is worth paying a little more, to share a square with such famous statues as Ammannati's Neptune and Michelangelo's David (although the original is in the Galleria dell'Accademia). Three nights bed and breakfast in a 2 star hotel starts at around £220 per person for a lovely city break in Florence.
Family Holiday in Florence
Although this magical Italian city is dominated by renaissance works of art and other such finery, there are a fair amount of attractions for a family holiday in Florence.
The newly expanded Egyptian collection at the Archaeological Museum is packed with mummies and the Science Museum contains working experiments of Galileo.
The Anthropological Museum is filled with curiosities including Peruvian mummies and Indian shadow puppets. For children with a gruesome imagination, La Specola (in the Museo di Zoologia) exhibits anatomical waxworks of human body parts.
The Boboli gardens and the Cascine are Florence's two main parks where children can run about and enjoy themselves, while a children's playground is situated in Piazza dell'Azeglio. Children can also take a ride on one of the charming horse-drawn carriages found in Piazza della Signoria. Perhaps you wouldn’t necessarily think of taking a family holiday to Florence, but you will be amazed at how interesting the place is for all ages.
Cruises in Florence
Cruise ships listing Florence on the itinerary generally dock at Livorno, a port town about 60 miles (100km) from Florence and 12 miles (20km) from Pisa, so cruisers can cover both cities in a day. A few cruises to Florence dock at La Spezia, which is about two and a half hours' drive from the city itself and an hour from Pisa. Most cruise ships have a ‘Florence on your own’ excursion, which provide transport to and from the city, but leave you free to explore and sight-see alone. The drive from Livorno to Florence takes an hour, or less if the traffic permits. Expect to pay from £35 for this excursion.
Cycling Activity Holiday in Florence
It is possible to book an arranged and fully escorted biking holiday in Tuscany, of which there is a variation of routes that you can choose from. Most are seven-day tours that stop off in different locations, where you can stay in an array of lovely quaint hotels while you relax after a long day’s cycling. Cycle tours in Florence take different routes, but Tuscany to Umbria is popular as the rolling hills of the wine regions, ancient little towns and sweeping countryside offer some of the best views in all of Europe.
You can visit Monteriggiono, a stunning little walled town, and then you can travel on to Siena, a delightful place built over three ridges and encased by a high wall. The countryside of Le Crete is perfect for bike lovers, as is Pienza, as well as the wine towns of Montalcino and the famous Chianti itself. Some bike tours in Florence (Tuscany) offer wine tasting days out also. A week’s cycling holiday in Florence and its surrounding countryside start at around 1600 euros but there are extras on top, such as room costs and transfers. Tuscany is known for being expensive but it doesn’t put practiced cyclists off; people return here year after year as the scenery is utterly compelling.
Culture and Arts in Florence
Many world famous artists have lived in Florence over the centuries. Monuments, paintings and architecture are the result of the work of artists such as Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Leonardo Da Vinci and many others, so this is the place to be if you want a culture and arts holiday in Italy.
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the finest museums in the world and is home to masterpieces by Italian and foreign artists from the 13th to the 18th century – including Giotto, Beato Angelico, Botticelli, Raphael, Caravaggio, along with Rubens, Rembrandt and Goya. The Vasari Corridor (Corridoio Vasariano) that connects the Uffizi Gallery with the Pitti Palace hosts a fabulous collection of self-portraits by well known artists and is a must-see for those booking a culture and arts holiday in Florence. Built by Vasari in 1565, it passes above the Ponte Vecchio. It is best to pre-book tickets for museums or galleries; otherwise expect long queues, particularly in the summer months.
Backpacking in Florence
Florence isn’t really a backpacker’s paradise because it is fairly pricey and most spend their money on seeing the galleries and museums. If you do want to include this wonderful city on your itinerary then it would be wise to stay in one of the cheaper B&b’s, but you won’t get sparse and basic here if you want a backpacking holiday in Florence; this place is pretty full on as far as sophistication goes and this fact will reflect in the spending money left in your wallet after a few days’ stay.
However, there are campsites dotted all over Florence and Tuscany and sleeping under canvass isn’t only fairly priced, at around 20 euros a night for a pitch, but the views are breathtaking. Backpacking in Florence offers the traveller the chance to see some authentic Tuscan history, old Florentine architecture as well as medieval streets and Renaissance art, before they head to their next destination.
Corporate Weekend in Florence
There are a fair number of well equipped larger hotels in Florence, where it is possible to book for business and work purposes. Some are in the business area of the city, just 2km from the centre, where a corporate weekend in Florence would benefit from meeting rooms, which most of the hotels here offer. Florence is a small city, so wherever you are you won’t be far from restaurants, museums and art galleries, should you want an afternoon away from work.
Most of the hotels equipped for corporate weekends in Florence are extravagant in design and are rather pricy, but they usually offer satellite TV, reading rooms, lounges, saunas and massages, electronic safes, bike hire on request, a private garage and ironing facilities, among other services. The food is always cooked to absolute perfection in the hotel restaurants and some of the rooms are even soundproofed. Rooms in the plusher hotels usually start at around 110 euros a night.
Gay and Lesbian in Florence
Homosexuality has been legal in Italy since 1889 and the age of consent is 14, as it is for heterosexuals. However, open physical affection in public places is not recommended in Florence or the rest of Italy. Holidays for gays and lesbians in Florence are popular, as there are so many beautiful galleries, monuments and museums to visit. If you want thrilling nightlife then Florence isn’t the liveliest place on earth but it isn’t completely flat either.
It wasn't until 1970 that the city got its first gay disco, Tabasco, right in the historic heart of Florence. The Parco delle Cascine and the area around Campo di Marte are the most well-known hot-spots as far as the gay scene goes but the police are strict here and there are regular ID checks carried out. The age of consent is 18 in bars and clubs and it is worth bringing ID with you to be on the safe side. Florence also has a good collection of wine bars, restaurants and cinemas.
Honeymoon in Florence
Honeymoons in Florence are highly popular and for the simple reason that this is a romantic place. Smaller and more intimate than other European cities, Florence has its own unique character and a sense of real class and authenticity.
Florence has everything you could wish for – amazing art treasures, tranquil sunsets over the river Arno, gourmet restaurants, and flower-filled parks, perfect for an early evening stroll before you head to dinner. A honeymoon in Florence is designed for those who like to wander around, taking in their surroundings as you can walk from one end of the city center to the other in about 30 minutes. There are plenty of excursions available for tourists to learn about the city's amazing history and there are some luxurious hotels in which to stay in, with excellent facilities and sweeping views. Florence is a great place for honeymooners as the city exudes romance in abundance.
Golf Activity Holiday in Florence
Most of the golf courses in Florence are set in golfing clubs with hotels attached, and all are rather sophisticated and classy in ambience, in fitting with the rest of this superb Renaissance city. As with a lot of the accommodation in Florence, a week in such a club isn’t cheap (beginning at around 500-600 euros each, depending on the time of year) but it is well worth the cost, mainly because you will be playing golf in one of the most beautiful spots in Europe.
A golfing holiday in Florence will mean that after a game you can head into the centre of town and take in one of the galleries or museums or take a stroll over the Ponte Vecchio and then head back to your plush hotel or eat in one of the fine restaurants nearby. Golf in Florence is always outside of the main city, which is small in circumference, but you will only have to travel five or six miles into the lush Tuscan hills, enveloped by vineyards and pretty villages, to find the nearest golf club.
Hiking Activity Holiday in Florence
There are a number of excursion companies that offer high quality walking tours in Florence, with professional and specially trained guides. You can opt to walk around this small city on your own, or even take in the lovely scenery of Tuscany itself, but with pre arranged walking tours in Florence the experts make history come alive and give entertaining and informative commentary.
But if you prefer the more laid back style of arranging your own walks just hop on a train and travel further afield. Siena and Chianti country is truly inspiring. There are day or evening walking tours in which you will really gain a feel for historical Florence and discover little corners of the city you didn’t know existed, thanks to the helpful and informative guides, who provide a wealth of knowledge. These tours start at around 30 euros.
Party Holiday - Singles Life in Florence
Although Florence is not packed with bars and night spots where you can dance until dawn, there are several Irish pubs in town where much of the city’s student population generally flock to on weekends. Your best option is to wander around the many piazzas to discover the singles party nightlife in Florence for yourself; the small Piazza San Pier Maggiore near Santa Croce is usually a good choice and there are many great restaurants in the centre also. Florence has a good selection of wine bars, a few excellent nightclubs and a number of busy cinemas. If you want to mix in some culture and sightseeing with visiting bars and good restaurants while on your partying weekend in Florence, then this is the place for you.
Shopping Holiday in Florence
The Mercato Nuovo in Piazza Mercato Nuovo, or the Mercato San Lorenzo in the Piazza San Lorenzo are great places to go shopping in Florence and the place in which to buy silk scarves and leather bags. San Frediano, in the Oltrarno region of the city, is a good area to find local handmade crafts; the Via Maggio in the same area is the place for expensive antiques and there are more artisan shops and those that sell gold jewellery in the Santa Croce area, just five minutes from the Piazza della Signoria.
In 1593, Ferdinand I ruled that only goldsmiths and jewellers could work on the Ponte Vecchio and it is still a good place to browse for jewellery, although you need to know what your are looking for or buying as it is easy to be conned. For designer clothes, make your way to the Via Tornabuoni, which has names such as Prada, Gucci, Armani and Pucci. Salvatore Ferragamo, shoemaker for the famous, has a shop there, where you can pay £300 for a pair of his shoes. Street traders try and sell tourists fake designer bags and watches, but, remember that in Italy it is illegal to buy fake goods. A shopping holiday in Florence can be a little on the pricey side but you will get good value and a fantastic experience into the bargain.
Hen Destination in Florence
The single scene for girls in Florence is definitely good if you want to find dark, handsome, single men! Italians are renowned for their stylish dress and charm and although you won’t be bombarded with loud music from night spots you will find bars and a few decent clubs centred in the piazzas and such. Just take a stroll about with your friends and choose a venue that looks to be in fitting with your kind of place, exuding the type of ambience that you expect from a girls night out in Florence.
Another thing that will attract single girls in Florence will be the shopping. Gucci, Armani and Prada have stores here and there are many beautiful jewellery shops on the Ponte Vecchio. Watch out for touts selling fake handbags and watches as it could land you in trouble; buying fake goods in Italy is against the law. It is best to stick to the shops and established markets and don’t buy off random street sellers.
Stag Destination in Florence
Florence attracts students studying History of Art and Italian from every corner of the globe, so if you are wanting to meet like minded young people then you will find a lot of the action in the most bohemian area which is the Oltrarno, south of the river, where you can enjoy yourself well into the early hours of the morning. Nightlife in Florence is also centred around Piazza della Signoria, where you will find the more laid back venues, in which you can relax with a beer or two.
The single scene for guys in Florence is a quite a young scene, with students practically just out of school getting their first taste of freedom and enjoying the late licensing hours. Some pubs stay open until 1am or even later, which is great if you and your friends are on a roll! Don’t expect neon-lit clubs and famous djs in Florence; this is a place of art and culture, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t know how to show tourists a good time.
Well-being and Spa in Florence
There are a fair number of luxury hotels where you can enjoy a spa retreat holiday in Florence and the good thing is that after a pampering session you won’t have to walk far to see all the sights, as there are some fantastic spa hotels in the centre of the city. You will find saunas, swimming pools, beauty treatments and shiatsu massage, as well as many other spa facilities.
Most of the more luxurious hotels in Florence provide spa and wellbeing treatments but a half day of treatments can cost anything up to 300 euros. The price may be a little on the high side for some deserved pampering, but it is well worth it, as with everything else in this beautiful city – the experience and aura of luxury is paramount.
Wine Tasting Holiday in Florence
There are numerous wine tasting tours in Florence, which you can choose from. After all, apart from the art and museums, this is what this luxurious region is world famous for! People from all over the world drink fine wines from Tuscany and the Chianti hills, so it is no surprise that so many people enjoy a wine tasting holiday in Florence. The more basic tours start at 30 euros per person, but the prices vary greatly, usually dependant on the wines included in the itinerary and the length of the tour, which can be 4 to 8 hours. You haven’t sampled the real Italy until you have been on a Tuscan wine tour.
Winter Sun in Florence
The weather in June and July is very hot in this marvellous Renaissance city and some prefer to visit in September and October, which could be classed as a winter sun holiday in Florence. During the months of November to February the place is pretty deserted of tourists, but it is possible to book a nice hotel there, should you want to visit when it is very quiet. Some of the attractions will be closed though. Whatever month you opt to visit, the piazzas and parks, and the medieval streets, monuments of historical figures and the old bridge will still be there for you to admire, so a holiday in Florence is always a well considered choice.