Florence Hotels, Florence Tours, Florence Sightseeing, Florence Restaurants, Florence Night Clubs, Churches of Florence, Galleries of Florence, Transfers in Rome

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Florence, Italy
Birthplace of the Italian Renaissance - Center of Italian Fashion - Home of the Uffizi, Accademia and Pitti Galleries

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The Florence index


Places to stay
First things first: find a great place to stay in Florence.  Whether you are looking for a modest B&B, an apartment or a 5 star hotel, VisitsItaly.com has fantastic rates places to stay in Florence in great locations that offer great value. 

Hotels, Apartments, and B&Bs in Florence

Group Tours and Personalized tours in and from Florence
Take a look at our directory of things you can do and see in Florence - from low cost sightseeing tours to private tours that will take you below the surface of this complex and fascinating city.

Things to see and do in Florence


Dining and going out in Florence
Florence is a contemporary Italian city with a great night life and fantastic restaurants. If you love good food and good times, Florence offers you the best of the best.

Restaurants, Trattoria, Clubs etc

Events and Public Holidays
  • Jan 1- Anno Nuovo (New Year's Day)
  • Jan 6 - Befana (The Epiphany)
  • March/April - Pasqua (Easter), including Venerdi Santo (Good Friday), Explosion of the Cart (fireworks on Easter Saturday) Pasquetta (Easter Monday)
  • April 25 - Giorno Della Liberazione (Liberation Day)
  • May 1 - Giorno Del Lavoro (Labour Day)
  • June 24 - Feast of St John the Baptist, including the Gioco del Calcio Storico (football played in 16th century costumes, and fireworks).
  • Aug 15 - Assunzione (Feast of the Assumption)
  • Nov 1 - Ognissanti (All Saints Day)
  • Dec 8 - Concezione Immaculata (Feast of the Immaculate Conception)
  • Dec 25 - Natale (Christmas Day)
  • Dec 26 - Festa di Santo Stefano (St Stephen's Day)

Chiesa Santa Croce

Visiting Historic Florence
Birthplace of the Renaissance

Just as Tuscany is on one of the "must see" regions in Italy, Florence is the "must see" city in Tuscany.  But, be forewarned: during the summer months millions of tourists pour into the City from all over Europe, and make sightseeing difficult.  The best time to visit in the early Spring, Fall or winter months.  In fact, visiting Florence in  November, January and February are some of the best times to enjoy this spectacular city for so many reasons, from cheaper prices in the restaurants to the eerie romantic feel that walking over Pontevecchio (the Golden bridge) 

The city center has a pronounced medieval feel.  The buildings are mostly of hewn grey stone with roofs of russet colored tiles.  The same stone has been used to cobble the ancient streets.  The author Mary McCarthy wrote a book about Florence called "The Stones of Florence" because of the stone works hard and refractive qualities.   The book, written in 1959, is as apt today as it was then, a good read that will help you see Florence through fresh eyes.  A very good idea, that.

Florence is densely packed and busy, its intersecting streets and alleys contributing to a sense of befuddlement for the first time traveler.  We recommend you actually allow yourself the fun of "getting lost" in this city, because around most corners, you will encounter many wonderful, surprising things.  Besides, you can always pick-out a landmark, like Brunelleschi's dome on the Duomo or the tall bell tower, or the Santa Maria Novella train station to quickly re-orient yourself.

This is not a suitable place to write at length about the history of Florence, but a few quick notes are in order.

The city, on the banks of the Arno river, originally named Fiesole, was founded by the Etruscans in about 200 BC.  The Romans, who displaced the Etruscans, called it Florentia, and used it as a garrison town to control the Via Flaminia, a major Roman highway.

During the 12th and 13th centuries, the city underwent a process of democratization.  First, it evolved into a free commune.  By 1138 AD, it was ruled by a board of 12 consuls, advised by a wealthy group of merchants, the Council of One Hundred.  This arrangement fell apart because of infighting, resulting in the "election" of a foreign governor, the podesta.

Early in the 13th century, bickering between the Guelphs (pro-papal) and Ghibellines (pro-monarchy), ultimately resulted in the formation of a government by the "winning" Guelphs.  During this period, the plague reduced the the city's population by half, which accelerated the democratization process.

By the end of the century, nobles were excluded from Florentine government, and the city became a republic, controlled by Guelph merchants.  The DeMedici family emerged as the leading family, and the city came more or less under their control until they went broke in 1494, when Florence fell under the control of Girolamo Savanorola, a Dominican munk who enforced a puritanical regime.  He was hanged and burned for his troubles in 1498.

The enterprising Medici's returned to power in the early 16th century and ruled for another 200 years.  The city's fame as a center of art, culture and science derives principally from the fact that the Medicis were active patrons to the best of the best in all fields.  This period, with a legacy almost unsurpassed in the western world, is known far and wide as the Renaissance.

In the 18th century, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany passed into the control of the House of Lorraine, and was ultimately incorproated into the Kingdom of Italy, of which Tuscany became capital.  With the demise of the monarchy, Tuscany became just another, if somewhat more exalted, regional capital.

The two world wars wreaked extensive damage on Florence, a devastating flood in 1966 took a big toll on numerous buildings, including the Ufizi art gallery, and many works of art.  Restoration continues to this day.

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