Other interesting places to visit include the Museo dell’Opificio delle Pietre Dure, the workshop of semi-precious stones (Via degli Alfani, 78, tel. +39 055.2651348), now a modern centre specialised in restoration.
Do not miss the Biblioteca delle Oblate library (Via dell’Oriuolo, 26, tel. +39 055-2616512), a former convent and now a cultural venue, with its small café which has a wonderful view of Brunelleschi’s Dome.
The San Marco National Museum (Piazza San Marco, 3 tel. +39 055.294883), an architectural masterpiece by Michelozzo, also contains the best collection of works by Beato Angelico in the world.
To experience the real essence of Florence you need to try its traditional food. In the indoor market Mercato Centrale (access from either Piazza del Mercato or Via dell’Ariento), open every day until midnight, you will find a vast selection of local specialities prepared on the spot made for you. One of its most famous stalls is the Florentines’ favourite Nerbone, a lamprey seller who makes delicious rolls filled with tripe and lamprey.
If you like meat, you should not miss out on the chance to try a genuine Florentine steak cooked on the traditional charcoal grill at the restaurant and wine bar Le Fonticine, in Firenze since 1939 (Via Nazionale 79/r, +39 055-282106) very close to Palazzo Castri 1874. For a gourmet evening with friends experience the wonderful atmosphere at Trattoria da Tito (Via S.Gallo 112/r, +39 055-472475). And if you want to treat your other half to a romantic evening we recommend the Taverna del Bronzino (Via delle Ruote 27/r, +39 055-495220).
The most famous luxury shopping district is Via Tornabuoni, with its grand palazzi, boutiques and jewellers. If you want to buy something precious made by the Florentine master jewellers, it is worth visiting the Ponte Vecchio, famous worldwide for its jewellers’ workshops.
For more casual shopping, the best streets are Via dei Calzaiuoli, Via dei Panzani and Via dei Cerretani.
Florence offers plenty of chances for enjoyment that you and your children can have fun discovering together. There are several museums with activities for children. These include the Palazzo Vecchio Museum (Piazza della Signoria, tel. +39 055-2768325), which has a large number of guided tours and workshops for families.
If your children love science then they deserve a trip to the Museo Galileo (Piazza dei Giudici, 1, tel. +39 055-265311), with its large collection of scientific and astronomical instruments, and the Museo Leonardo da Vinci (Via dei Servi, 66, tel. +39 055-282966).
Take a walk in the Rose Garden just below Piazzale Michelangelo, and do not miss out on the famous Boboli Gardens with its sculptures and antiquities.
If you feel the need for a snack, stop for an ice cream at the traditional Gelateria Vivoli near Piazza Santa Croce, La Carraia or the Gelateria Carabè, which makes one of the best water ices (“granita”) in Florence.
history and culture
Another monument on the classic Florentine tourist trail is Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria, considered one of the world’s best examples of fourteenth-century civic architecture. The square was considered to be cursed for many years because of the battles between the Guelphs and Ghibellines that took place there.
Beautiful to look at and to walk over, Ponte Vecchio is famous for its jewellers’ workshops. A curious fact: until 1565 the bridge housed greengrocers’ and butchers’ shops.
Among the most important churches in Florence are the Basilica of Santa Croce, where many great Italians are buried, including Galileo Galilei, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Foscolo and Canova; the Brancacci Chapel with its wonderful frescos by Masolino and Masaccio depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments and, finally, the Church of Santa Maria Novella, a splendid example of the Tuscan Romanesque style with its white, green and black marble. It contains numerous art treasures, including Masaccio’s Holy Trinity, Giotto’s Crucifix, Brunelleschi’s Crucifix and the famous cycle of frescos by Ghirlandaio.
The Uffizi (Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6, tel. +39 055-238 8651) are a must for visitors to Florence, and often their main reason for visiting. They house masterpieces from every period and place, and exhibitions are held throughout the year.
Another cultural venue is the Galleria dell’Accademia (Via Bettino Ricasoli, 58/60, tel. +39 055-294883), also known as the Michelangelo Museum due to the large number of works by the Florentine artist, including the original David.
Visitors should not miss Palazzo Pitti (Piazza dei Pitti, 1, tel. +39 055-294883), once the residence of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany. It houses the Palatine Gallery with its monumental apartments, the Gallery of Modern Art, the Costume Gallery and the Medici Treasury (Museo degli Argenti).