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Florence: The LUXE Lowdown

February 01, 2016

Florence may be dour and medieval from the outside, but she’s also home to the greatest blaze of art the world has ever seen. Tiny n’ packed like Pam Anderson’s bikini, Flo is so steeped in the fabulous Renaissance it's easy to forget she's also a stylish little kitten… 


Overview


Exquisitely walkable, Flo is divided by the river Arno. North is monument and museum heavy: the Uffizi, Ponte Vecchio, Centro Storico (all central); Santa Maria Novella and Via Tornabuoni (west); Duomo and San Marco (north); Santa Croce (east). South of the river is artisan ‘rive gauche’ Oltrarno.



Need to Know


  • What to Wear: Stilettos + cobbled streets = broken ankles

  • When to Visit: The entire city shuts down and goes en vacance in August

  • Transport: Taxis are a yawny off-white and CANNOT be hailed on the street; it should go without saying, but Segway tours are completely ridiculous. Walk or bike instead

  • Museums: Though unmissable, the Uffizi means parlous queues and noisy group tours. Steel yourself with a hot choccy while you wait, Kate

  • Counterfeits: Purchasing rip-off handbags from the masses of street hawkers can land you with a €10,000 fine, so go legit 

  • Shopping: Afternoon (1-3.30pm) and Sun/Mon closing times for shops – both inconvenient and so irritating. Plan ahead

  • Coffee: One should NEVER drink a cappuccino after a big meal, and in theory not after 11am



Talking Points


  • Events: Men’s fash fest Pitti Uomo is staged Jan and Jun. Lots of eye-candy and fun events, but nigh on impossible to get reservations and taxis; just after Pitti Uomo is Pitti Bimbo (kiddie fash and prods) which is gaining momentum too

  • Culture Goss: Museo dell'Opera del Duomo has reopened behind the Duomo after a multi-million euro renovation and several years of closure – and it’s GORGEOUS

  • Taste Fair: At Stazione Leopolda (the old train station on the west edge of the centro) and running in Mar  – think artisan cheeses, beers, oils, caviar, etc. The same week there is Fuori Taste, a series of culinary events and presentations around the city

  • Sport: Calcio Storico, Florence's unique sport dating to the C.16th, is a combination of rugby, soccer and boxing. There are four teams for the four traditional neighbourhoods (Bianchi, Rossi, Verdi, Blu) which dual it out every June in Piazza Santa Croce. The final game is on June 24, Florence's patron saint day (Saint John the Baptist)

  • Maggio Musicale: Flo's classical music and opera festival with international guest musicians and singers runs end Apr-June in the new concert hall on the west edge of the city by the Cascine Park

  • Teatro Niccolini: The oldest theatre in Florence, has been transformed into a cultural centre with original theatre plus bookstore, exhibition space, and caff


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