Florence was the place I looked forward to the most and turned out to be the most disappointing because it was such a touristy place.
It was the only place where the waiters treated us differently because we were English – they discouraged us from speaking Italian for example.
I’m not sharing this to bum you out or anything, but to encourage you in your quest to find the non-tourist spots in Florence (if they exist). Unfortunately, I can’t help you find them.
My trip to Florence was some years ago, but not much should have changed.
First thing you should rent a bike. Florence is quite small, but by foot it could become tedious and you limit yourself to the touristy center. There you should indulge yourself in the culture locations (Ponte Vecchio and north of that, Uffizi (Rennaissance Art), Santa Maria del Fiore (with the statical revolutionary dome) and the trademark bell tower/campanile). You won’t need a bike that day. The other days you may prefer to travel farther. Nice places are the area south of ponte vecchio (not overflown with tourists, but still historical and east of the center. We biked east and aked a vine vendor for a nice restaurant and he sent us to a nice trattoria north of the psycological faculty campus (wich i’m unable to find on the map now). But then again you’ll be in Italy where you can’t trow a stone without hitting a good trattoria, as long as you stay out of the tourist areas. Just look for a nice little place with locals in it eating and you can’t fail. Italians suck at english, but they don’t dislike it (or people who speak it), so no worries there, they also pride themselves of being friendly and open hearted. But if northerners speak italian they have a very edgy and hard accent, as opposed to the soft and gentle nature of the italian language, so when germans and english try to speak italian, it hurts (no offense meant). Among other specialities (there is nothing not worth eating in italy) you should try the bistecca fiorentina, a 500g steak (bring a friend, you don’t have to order one per person), named after the city.
You should also take the time to visit the countryside (Florence itself is quite small and nested in soft hills, loaden with stunning ambience, old edifices, vineyards and countryside trattorias. You should be abls to do this by bike even if some streets can be a bit steep for a short time. Really italian would be though if you went by car, and took oven forms of hot fresh lasagne, dessert, tables and seats, your extended family (all of it) and a portable TV with you to the countyside.
From 5 to 8 PM there should be aperitivo in most bars, meaning you get to freely enjoy the cold buffet, when you order (alcoholic) drinks (might vary from place to place tough). The quality of the food may vary too. This office workers tradition has taken Italy by storm about 10 years ago (mostly Milan and surroundings).
Nightlife in the summer is very active in italian cities, but mostly outdoors on streets and piazzas. There should even be some fairs that time of year, but you also get a lot out of it if you just stroll the streets, take some ice cream or a water melon slice with you and look upon the river.
Generally, when in Italy take your time to relax and enjoy life and you will have a wonderful stay. Try to stuff as much culture in your stay and it will become very hectic (there is an unlimited supply of it) and you won’t see the real Italy.
Have a nice trip!
oh, and if you want in preparation you could make a game of Assassins Creed II, they rendered renaissance Florence quite well.
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