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Things to Do in Florence


Florence is often described as a “City of Stone”. This description is not only due to the fact that most buildings, sidewalks, streets, tower and bridges appear cobbled together in shades of gray. “Stone” also refers to the personality of most Florentines upon initial introduction. They often seem more serious and take a longer time to warm up to strangers than most Italians. It’s a shame that most tourists never get to know the real Florence. It is often very difficult to get past the touristy surface and see what really makes the place tick. It usually takes a lot of time and effort to see Florence in a more personal level, to get the hang of its back streets and alleys, and to understand the deep history of the many palaces that line the streets.

If it’s visual delight you’re after, you’ve definitely come to the right place. Florence is home to several priceless art — Michelangelo’s David, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Raphael’s Madonnas. The city is brimming with art, history and culture that even a short visit can leave anyone overwhelmed. There are also simple pleasures tourists can enjoy — wandering the medieval streets in Dante’s old neighborhood, a cup of coffee on Piazza della Signoria, or bargain shopping at the street markets around San Lorenzo. If it’s nature you’re after, you can also take a leisurely stroll in the greenery of the Boboli Gardens.

It seems there is no shortage of museums in Florence. Tourists can bask in all the preserved treasures kept in the Museo Bardini, Museo di Firenze Com'Era, Museo di Santa Maria Novella, Casa Buonarroti, Casa di Dante, Opera di Santa Croce, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Campanile di Giotto, Duomo's cupola, Opificio Pietre Dure, Museo Stibbert, Instituto e Museo di Storia di Scienza, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Museo Horne, Cappella Brancacci, Synagogue, Spedale degli Innocenti, Roman Amphitheater, and Museo Archeologico (Fiesole).

Catching the calcio fever, Italian-style is also a great experience. Calcio or soccer is something Italians take very seriously. A day inside one of their football stadiums can offer you as much insight into Italian culture as a day in the Uffizi. Their local team, the Fiorentina, plays every Sunday, from September to May at the Stadio Comunale, Via Manfredi Fanti 4. Tickets are sold at the stadium box office a few hours before every game.

Florence is also an environmentalist’s dream. There are several beautiful parks and gardens but the best park is the Medici grand dukes’ old backyard to the Pitti Palace, the Giardino Boboli. There’s also the Parco della Cascine, along the Arno at the west end. Though it is less scenic, it is more free and jogger-friendly. The Cascine is also worth a visit. It used to be a wild delta of land where two rivers meet but the area later became a hunting reserve and eventually turned into a pasture for the grand duke’s milk cows. Today, it is a recreation paradise, with tennis courts, pools, and horse racetrack. It also houses odd late 18th and early 19th century features like funky neoclassical fountains. Every Tuesday morning, a flea market sets up and you can buy unique pieces at very affordable prices.

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