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Travel Tips

April in Florence - Aprile in Firenze

Published on April 6, 2014 8:25 PM | Comments

April is a very busy month in Florence, with the biggest event of course being Easter - or Pasqua - as it is called in Italy.

One of the most wondrous of events is the "scoppio del carro", or in English, the "explosion of the cart" (of St. John the Baptist). The cart itself is also known as "Il Brindellone". This medieval Florentine tradition is a spectacle not to be missed. The ceremony started sometime during the crusades, and the original cart was said to be lit by a flint brought back from Jerusalem by members of the Pazzi family. The cart gets led into Piazza Duomo by two white oxen amid much fanfare, flag throwing, and drum playing. It is covered in various fireworks and other exploding devices, and lit by a fake dove that comes shooting out of the Duomo doors on a wire. The mass starts at 11 AM, the cart usually gets lit around noon. Do not miss it! (Not an event for the noise adverse.)

Il Brindellone

That is just Easter. Other major annual events are the Firenze Half Marathon (April 6th), the Mostra Internazionale dell'Artigianato (April 24th to May 1), and of course, Notte Bianca (or White Night) - the annual all night street party (one of my favorite events of the year).

There are also many other small markets and fairs in April, see our Florence Events Calendar for additional dates.

How to Spend One Day in Florence

Published on September 10, 2013 12:16 PM | Comments

September 10th, 2013: Ellen wrote this nearly 8 years ago - I am updating it with some fresh links and some new dining tips (at the end). If you see a "note:" or "tip" that is also something that has been updated.

My brother emailed and said he has a friend who's taking the train from Rome to Florence for the day. She was looking for suggestions about the best way to spend one day in Florence, where to go, where to eat, etc. Here's what I said:

It's hard to give advice to someone I don't know because I don't know what type of traveller they are, but if it was me I would:

baptistry-at-night.jpg1) take the 10 minute walk from the train station to the Duomo. Here you could: a) go into the cathedral (Santa Maria del Fiore), b) climb to the top of the Dome, c) climb to the top of the Campanile or d) go into the Baptistry (above) --- my choice would be to go into the Baptistry which is just beautiful with bronze doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti (note: you need a ticket for the Baptistry - info on tickets, hours, prices etc. for the Baptistry and the rest of the Duomo complex is here).

Medical Service Firenze

Published on June 2, 2013 10:04 AM | Comments


If you are English speaking and need a doctor in Florence, even if you need an emergency house call (! remember those?) - Medical Service Firenze is a great choice. Over the years, even though we have been covered by the Italian health care system most of the time, we have used their services in between coverage gaps or during emergencies, etc.

Office visits are very reasonably priced, the doctors all speak English, and you can just walk in during their posted open hours. And the office is right in the center of Florence, on Via Roma just down the street from Piazza Repubblica heading towards the Baptistry (basically across the street from LUISAVIAROMA).

Being a tour guide in Florence

Published on February 5, 2013 5:12 PM | Comments

Here is Twitter follower and unmet friend Alexandra discussing her work (and some of her favorites) in Florence:

One night escape in Chianti

Published on May 2, 2012 10:28 AM | Comments

Here is a very nice offer for a romantic escape in the heart of Chianti from Borgo Casa al Vento. If you are staying in Florence or anywhere in Tuscany and want a quiet, peaceful, getaway - even for just one night - this sounds hard to beat:

1 Night in a Standard Room:

- A gift in your room.

- A choice of Dinner or Lunch.

- Complimentary access to Sauna/Frigidarium.

€ 79,00 per person with breakfast included

Valid weekdays year round, excluding weekends and holidays (Monday to Friday).


Public toilets in Florence

Published on December 3, 2011 9:09 AM | Comments

Updated with new links to the PDF map on December 3, 2011:

Servizi_igieniciThe list below is from the new Florence Municipal website in English - I wouldn't make definite plans by it though, as at least one of the locations (Loggia del Grano) has been closed for at least a year. I know for sure that the locations at Borgo Santa Croce and Via dello Sprone are open. The Piazza Ciompi location is inside the small garden across from the main square/flea market. We will be making a map of these locations soon. Note that most locations have a charge of .60 euro cents.

Stazione FS S.Maria Novella - underpass
hours: 08-20
opening time: all year round
Euro 0,60

Via della Stufa, 25
hours:  10-20*     9-22**
opening time: 
* from 01/11 to 31/03
** from 1/04 to 31/10
Euro 0,60

Via Filippina on the corner of Via Borgognona
hours:  10-20*     09-22**
opening time:
* from 01/11 to 31/03
** from 1/04 to 31/10
Euro 0,60

Borgo Santa Croce, 29r (very near to the church and square of Santa Croce)
hours:  10-20*     9-22**
opening time:
* from 01/11 to 31/03
** from 1/04 to 31/10
Euro 0,60

Piazza Ghiberti - inside the S.Ambrogio market
hours: 07-14
opening time: all year round
closed on Sundays and holydays
Euro 0,60

Via dell'Ariento, 14 - Mercato Centrale (Central Market)
hours: 07-14*     14-19.30**
opening time: all year round
* inside the marketplace
** outside the marketplace
Euro 0,60

Piazzale Michelangiolo - Viale Galilei
hours:  10-22
Euro 0,60

Via dello Sprone
hours:  10-20*     9-22**    
opening time:
* from 01/11 al - to 31/03
** from 1/04 al - to 31/10
Euro 0,60

Fortezza da Basso - inside the garden
Lungarno Pecori Giraldi - Tourist bus terminal - inside the multiethnic area
hours: 10-17*     09-19**     09-22***
opening time:
* from 01/10 to 20/03
** from 21/03 to 31/05
*** from 01/06 to 30/09
Euro 0,60

Via Sant’Agostino, 8
hours: 10-13*     15-19*     09-14**
opening time: all year round
closed on Wednesdays and on holidays 
* on Monday, on Tuesday, on Thursday, on Friday
** on Saturday
Euro 0,60 WC
Euro 1,81 shower

Piazza Madonna della Neve
hours: 7-23* 7-02**
opening time
* from 1/11 to 31/3
** from 1/4 to 31/10
Euro 0,50
Piazza de' Ciompi (inside the garden)
hours: 9,30-17,30* 9-19,30**
opening time
* from 1/11 to 31/3
**from 1/4 to 31/10

Loggia del Grano (behind the Uffizi - but pretty sure this location is closed!)
hours: 10-18
opening time
all year round
Euro 0,60
Parco delle Cascine (lots of construction and renovation going on around here - would not count on this being open all the time)
hours: 10-20* 9-222**
opening time
* from 1/11 to 31/3
**from 1/4 to 31/10
Euro 0,60

The Firenze Card

Published on October 19, 2011 4:12 PM | Comments


I am a bit late on commenting on this - I wasn't really doing much blogging over the summer when I think it finally went live. So - if you are in the dark too - the Firenze Card is Florence's attempt to catch up with many other major tourist cities by offering a product that makes it easier (and ostensibly cheaper) to get into museums/sites etc. and also gives you a transportation option (not that that is so necessary in Florence, where almost everything is within walking distance for most).

Their website has some quirky translations, but looking through it and seeing what is offered I would have to say this card is a major win. The list of 50 places you can visit is impressive (although some of these are free already and open only limited hours), and the free bus rides are a great kicker for the few spots not right in the center.

The only issue I can see is the price, as it can start to add up for families that are not EU citizens (EU citizens get one under 18 admission per adult card). At 50 euro per person, if you have a few kids and are coming from the U.S. or other places outside the EU, it could sound expensive - especially if you only visit a couple of places. I would prefer to see a card like this either offer the same discount for everyone with children under 18, and also last longer than 3 days - 5 would be optimal. But those are quibbles - overall if you want to visit a lot of museums and churches, and not have to wait in line or make reservations, this is an awesome new option.

Taxis in Florence

Published on September 29, 2011 8:31 AM | Comments

I want to start a series of posts of simple but important tips for the traveler to Florence.

#1 is how to get a taxi in Florence:

Important tip - you CAN NOT hail a taxi in Florence! You'll see people all the time waving frantically, gesticulating angrily, etc. etc. as taxis pass them in the street. This will not work (as a rule - sometimes if the taxi is already stopped to let someone else out, you can slip in). If you want a taxi, you have a few choices:

1. Find a taxi stand (these change all the time, but the major piazzas, as well as the train station are the places to start. There is a newer stand behind the Duomo, one in Santa Croce - which is often empty - Piazza Repubblica, Piazza San Marco, Piazza San Giovanni, etc.). I think they are a bit harder to find in the Oltrarno.

2. Call from your cell phone - there a few services, the easiest one for me to remember has always been 055 4242. Most operators speak enough English to help you. You need to tell them where you are, and where you want to go. Other numbers are 055 4390, 055 4798 and 055 4499.

3. Ask someone where you are (assuming it is bar, restaurant, hotel, etc. ) to call one for you.

If you want to help support an association of women taxi drivers, try InTaxi Firenze.

And here is a PDF from the Comune of the fares (tariffs).

Europcar discount for Facebook users

Published on June 30, 2011 4:41 PM | Comments

Europcar is offering a special 10% discount if you book your Italian or European rental car on Facebook:

Easter cooking class

Published on April 7, 2011 3:13 PM | Comments

The Cordon Bleu School of Florence has a special one day class coming up next week with an Easter menu. This is a great chance to get some hands on experience from one of the most trusted cooking schools in Florence. Tourists and English speakers welcome.


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