If Florence is the place where you want to live – at least for a while – we are ready to give you the right tips to fully enjoy your Tuscan experience. Live the city like a native Florentine!
Tuscany is located in the centre of Italy, enclosed between the sea and the Apennine mountains, which makes it one of the regions with the most liveable and typical Mediterranean climates. Throughout the region the temperature is usually mild in winter and warm in summer. Florence, however, lies in a valley relatively far from the coast, which makes its climate slightly more continental. What does this mean? That you will have to prepare yourself for hot and especially muggy summers, given the humidity that comes with the city during the summer months!
If you are not sure what to pack, Belonger, here’s what you should do: bring lots of clothes so you can dress “onion-style”, as they say here! But don’t forget the style: for us Italians, dressing well is an art, regardless of the climate!
The neighbourhoods of Florence
The centre of Florence has four historic neighbourhoods: San Giovanni (which includes both the Duomo area and San Lorenzo, famous for its market), the neighbourhood where the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore with Giotto’s famous Campanile is located; Santa Maria Novella, the neighbourhood named after the famous church a few metres from the main station; Santa Croce, the south-eastern neighbourhood that extends around the Basilica of Santa Croce; and last but not least Santo Spirito, the neighbourhood ‘on the other side of the Arno’, also known as “Oltrarno”.
These districts still represent the teams of the historic Florentine football (Calcio Storico), one of the most ancient sports in the world, which is played every year in Piazza Santa Croce in June.
There are many more places such as Sant’Ambrogio, San Niccolò, San Frediano… and while Florence is small, its nuances are infinite! Let’s see some of the most interesting ones for you, Belonger!
The San Lorenzo area is unique: it changes completely from day to night. During the day, in fact, it is famous for its market and the famous stalls selling leather accessories and clothing and souvenirs. In the evening, the chaos of the market disappears and the district is not much considered even by the Florentines themselves, except for its bars and ethnic restaurants. Under the arcades surrounding the market, there are several cocktail bars, including Sabor Cubano, a cocteleria that transports its customers to 1940s Cuba with music, furniture and strictly Cuban cocktails. A few metres away is Impressioni di Chomgqing, the most Chinese restaurant in Florence, with very affordable prices and authentic food.
The neighbourhoods of San Frediano and Santo Spirito, also known as Oltrarno, earned Lonely Planet’s title of “coolest neighbourhood in the world” in 2017. Suitable for every taste, the neighbourhood that historically belonged to the workshops of Florentine artisans is now a bustle of bars, restaurants and cafés. Piazza Santo Spirito and its tables will keep you happy all year round with their cheerful coming and going of young people. Would you like to have a glass of prosecco at Cabiria or Pitta M’Ingolli as an aperitif? Don’t miss the trattorias in Via dell’Orto and the gelateria in Piazza Tasso.
The “most Florentine” area of all for the evening: the Sant’Ambrogio neighbourhood. Popular prices, a sense of gathering and freedom. The young people of Florence love to go out in the streets of the district, one of which is Borgo La Croce. You can not go wrong, you will recognise it by the tables and stools set up almost everywhere in the middle of the street, glasses of wine or prosecco in hand, and crostini (and also because it starts right from Piazza Sant’Ambrogio). Finally, two venues between Sant’Ambrogio and Santa Croce to try: Hangar, a particular and alternative hangout, a warm and carpeted environment, perfect for a cocktail on evenings while a DJ is playing; going back to Santa Croce, the Soul Kitchen, a historic stop for many young people, with its rich aperitifs and bartenders right at the entrance. A place where everyone feels welcome.
Florence is one of the most visited artistic and cultural destinations in the world thanks to the incomparable amount of masterpieces on display at every corner. Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Vasari, Botticelli, Dante: these are just some of the artists who have contributed to make this city a real open-air museum. You just have to choose where to start, and walk around to enjoy its beauty. If you are passionate about art, the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Gallery are the must-see museums for those who live in the city. You should also check out Palazzo Pitti, the Stibbert Museum, and the many more around the city.
Not only classical masterpieces, Florence also offers contemporary artists. Palazzo Strozzi is the flagship of Florence for its world-famous contemporary art exhibitions (alternating with great classics): Marina Abramovic, Andy Wharol, JR, Tomas Saraceno, Ai Weiwei. Moreover, walking around the city you can admire street artists such as CLET: look at the street signs!
At the table like a Florentine
Florentines often and happily eat the local street food, at their trusted baracchino for tripe and lampredotto: dishes or sandwiches made with entrails, which are also a really cheap choice for you, Belonger. Or one of Florence’s famous stuffed schiacciate – a type of flat bread which in the rest of Italy is more commonly called focaccia.
They don’t often eat at restaurants, and prefer a good trattoria relying on the menu of the day in which they usually find typical dishes. Here are some: crostini with chicken livers, ribollita, pappa al pomodoro, peposo and, of course, the ever-present Florentine steak, strictly rare. Anyone hungry? Then start the evening with a platter of cold cuts and cheeses and a good glass of Chianti, while you choose where to go for dinner!
What to drink in Florence?
Did someone say cocktails? Florence is the birthplace of the famous Negroni and has a great tradition of mixology everywhere in the city, and aperitif time is always a celebration.
Of course, even the most traditional wine lovers cannot be disappointed here: besides being just a step away from the Chianti hills, Florence has an unbeatable offer of wine bars and restaurants where you can sip a good glass of wine. In the neighborhood of San Lorenzo you can still find some historical wine makers to stop by. Moreover, if you take a closer look around the city you can still spot the ancient wine buchette (little holes): along the Florentine walls there are 153 of them, from which flasks of wine were once sold.
Florentine dialect for dummies
Every Italian knows that there is no shortage of dialects in Italy, which often become truly inaccessible languages for those who do not belong to that region. In Tuscany, however, there is no real dialect, but rather an accent – sometimes very different from town to town. Do you know why? Easy! Because the Italian language derives from the 14th-century Florentine language, i.e. from one of the vernaculars born in the peninsula after the collapse of the Roman Empire and the decline of Latin. This is also thanks to Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio: yes, just them, Belonger.
If you already know a little Italian, you won’t need to learn another dialect, but you will need a few tips on how to hold a conversation like a native Florentine. First of all, one of the most famous international clichés about Florentines is the aspiration of the letter “C”: non-Florentines who try to imitate the dialect aspire all of them indiscriminately, but this will make you immediately recognisable! The rule is this: only hard-sounding “C’s” are aspirated, and only if they are not double and intervocalic. Sometimes, other letters are also transformed: “L “s can become “R “s (“che caRdo fa oggi!”) and “T “s are pronounced like the English “TH”. Yes, it may not be easy at first, but with a bit of practice you will become a true Florentine.
BISCHERO (or GRULLO)
This is a Tuscan term that is well-known all around Italy and it refers to a person who is not very clever and extremely naïve. It is used mainly as a joke and in an affectionate way. The word “bischerata” derives from the term “bischero”, meaning both a stupid thing to do and a very easy thing to do. Hence also the word ‘bischerata’, which means both a stupid thing to do and a very easy thing to do. A typical Florentine phrase? “‘Un fare i’ bischero!” : “Don’t be a fool!”.
To say you like something, a Florentine would say “mi garba!”, which means “I like it”.
Vienvia means “no way”, an expression similar to “what’s up with that?” or “you’ve got to be kidding me!”. In Florence an example of how people use it is “Oh venvia, ma dici davvero?”.
CENCIO AND GRANATA
The “cencio” is a cloth used to mop the floor. If your new housemates ask you to pass them the ‘granata’, don’t panic, Belonger: it’s not a grenade they are asking for, but just a broom for sweeping!
It’s an expression meaning “let’s go”, and it’s widely used in and around Florence. “‘Gnamo, si fa tardi!”, for example, means “Let’s go, we’re late!”.
SENZA LILLERI ‘UN SI LALLERA
Without money you can’t do much. But you can certainly have fun talking to the Florentines!
Florence has always been an open city that has been ahead of its time. Florence has been a pioneer in the fight against discrimination. It not only abolished the death penalty before any other Italian city under Grand Duke Leopold I in 1786, but thanks to Leopold II in 1853 it also abolished the crime of homosexuality. Its beauty and the hospitality of its inhabitants make it a perfect destination for anyone: even, and especially, for the entire LGBTQ+ community.
Official partner of the Municipality of Florence, on Destination Florence you can find the whole offer of the city at your fingertips: tours, experiences, museums, exhibitions. But that’s not all! In Destination Florence’s blog you’ll find lots of hints, itineraries, oddities and events that will let you experience Florence at 360°. Florence is waiting for you, discover it with us.