Florence Guide


About Florence, Italy



In Italy's fruitful history Florence dates back all the way to the time of Julius Caesar. Caesar set up camp for his veterans in this most pleasant of environments in 59BC. Although it has seen its fair share of downtimes, like the time the Black Death killed nearly 100,000 citizens, for the most part, the city has more than flourished ever since. Florence was thought to be at the very center of the medieval trade and finance era and is often considered the birth place of the Italian Renaissance. Its most famous family, the merchant Medici's, ruled the city for a considerable amount of time. During the Medici period, which included the Italian Renaissance, the family played patron to Florence and erected statue after magnificent statue, structure after extraordinary structure and commissioned thousands of the best art work of all time. Their reach included overseeing Raphael's Sistine Chapel project, commissioning Brunelleschi during his renovation of the Basilica of San Lorenzo and compensating Peter Paul Rubens to be the court painter. The Medici's influence and their kindly manner towards their citizens can still be seen and felt throughout Florence, which is known for its peaceful, enchanting nature. Its "Historic Centre of Florence" was announced as a World Heritage Site in 1982; a delightful place to explore. Unlike many other famous Italian cities, Florence's cuisine is hearty peasant rather than high class gastronomy. And the kind, courteous attitude of its meager 400,000 citizens only adds to its gracious, olden charm.


Things to do in Florence 



Our mini-guide to what's on in Venice lists the top events in a handy Venice Calendar format. If you take your short break in Venice, Italy when these events are taking place, add them to your list of things to do in Venice.

January: Artisan Chocolate Fair - The best chocolatiers in Tuscany come to Florence's Piazza Santa Croce for the annual Artisan Chocolate Fair. Chocolate lovers are encouraged to attend, especially since the event is free to the public, to indulge in games, shows, music and of course chocolate!

February: Worldwide Florentine Carnival - The Worldwide Florentine Carnival is a huge celebration that seeks to welcome the world to Tuscany. The parties extend outside of the city into the small towns and villages that surround it. However, Florence is where all of the action is, including Catholic and Pagan celebrations, a Carnival parade that features elaborate costumes from many different peoples of the world and entertainment arts that seek to celebrate Florence's successful lifetime.

March: Scoppio del Carro - Scoppie del Carro, or the Explosion of the Cart, is an annual event held every Easter Sunday. The name, for the most part, spells out exactly what happens. All of the good citizens of Florence gather in the Piazza del Duomo to watch a dove-shaped launcher called "Colombina" shoot out of the Duomo and light a huge wooden cart in the square, which then explodes into flames. Ultimately, Scoppie del Carro is a pagan ritual for good harvest, however, the launcher and the pyrotechnics have simply been added over time for some good clean fun! The procession begins at 10:00am and the explosion time is 11:00am.

April: Florence Tango Festival - International tango dancers the world over come to Saschall Theater in Florence to dance the night away. Not only is there dancing till you can't dance no more by way of performances and free tango lessons, there are also art exhibits, workshops and other shows that pay homage to the history of this "floating on air" art form.

May: Festival of the Cricket - Florence locals believe in good luck which is where the Festival of the Cricket, held annually at Cascine Park, comes in. The fest started several centuries ago when young men used to donate a good luck cricket to their loved ones during May Day. Now the Cricket Festival, still held on May 1, sells not only crickets but fancy cages and any other amenity your little luck bug could ever hope for. And as for the people? Yes, food and drink stalls as well as music and other entertaining shows are there for you and your new flying friend to enjoy.

June: Sesto d' Estate - The Sesto d'Estate is a two month long music festival that features a handful of large outdoor concerts at the gardens of the 16th century Villa Solaria. In between the concerts, which include famous faces like Funk off Icognito and rocker Alice Cooper, cultural events abound in the realms of theater, music and dance. Tickets and hours vary to each event.

July: Florence Youth Festival - Florence does a wonderful job in celebrating the next generation with its annual Youth Festival. Each June and July, thousands of youngsters, ranging from 15 - 20 years old, converge on Florence to participate in a range of programs. The events are held at several venues, including the Chiesa di Santo Stefano al Ponte, and other places throughout the Tuscan regions. Tickets and hours vary to each event.

August: Percorso del Principe - This one of a kind structure, an aerial corridor of sorts that connects Palazzo Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti, has opened up to visitors once again from June through September. The cost of walking this unique hallway, which is sure to take your breath away with its sweeping views of Florence, costs around 28.50EUR and needs advanced booking, as it is such a popular feature nowadays.

September: Wine Championship - Hailed as the "Olympics of Wine" Florence's Wine Championship puts together 16 teams of wine connoisseurs. The winner is the team who can answer the most wine-related questions correctly. After this fun competition is over, the rest of the event opens up for wine-fuelled debates, wine tasting and any other wine awareness program the mind can think of.

October: Arno Festival - Much like the citizens value their hearty eating habits and fine health, they also value their river's health. Each October all of Tuscany celebrates the well being of their Arno River with four days of talking and meeting about how to maintain its healthy levels as well as activities like a horse parade that marches down its banks.

November: Florence Marathon - Like any large city, Florence has its own marathon. However theirs differs in that it is a family event! Men, women and children are allowed to race in their respective marathons and nearly 6,000 athletes oblige each November. The men and women's races start at Piazzele Michelangelo and end at Piazza Santa Croce. The children's mini Ginky Run is at Piazzele Michelangelo as well. The cost is around 35-85EUR and all entries must be in by November 15 each year. The races begin at 9:00am sharp.

December: Winter in Florence - Florence has weather that is quite agreeable to most. Therefore, the winter time abounds with celebrations for the seasons with a large variety of shows, concerts, events and exhibits around the city. A massive Christmas tree is also erected and the Christmas market is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. The winter celebrations run annually from November all the way through February but it is advised to go around the holidays because the Christmas celebrations are the best!

 

Florence Web Sites



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