Florence at a Glance
Living in Florence
Culture and Leisure
Once the most important city in all of Europe, Florence’s political and cultural significance was notorious in the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. A hugely significant contribution from this city to our everyday lives has been the reinvention of the gold coin, used as currency in the form of a florin. The city is also where the modern Italian language was born, and is also the city where Opera originates from.
Famous artists from Florence are too many to name, but their influence has spread far and wide, and continues to affect people today. The Uffizi and the Pitti Palace art galleries are world famous, and the city also contains many religious and historical buildings; enough to entertain even the most avid history enthusiasts. But this city is modern as well and is a shopper’s paradise, with many famous designers originating in Florence, Gucci being the most famous. Hours can also be spent strolling through the medieval streets and along the river.
Transportation in and around Florence
The closest airport to Florence city center is the Amerigo Vespucci International Airport, and this is only a 15 minute drive from the city by taxi. Buses do not take much longer, and run every half hour from the train station in the center. The train routes to other parts of Italy and Europe are very efficient. Once you are in the city the transport is very easy to use, though the most favorable way to get around, particularly during the spring, is by walking, and the city is small enough that it is possible to walk from one end to the other. If you are looking for something slightly quicker, but still want to soak up the atmosphere of the city, bikes can be rented at different points throughout the city.
Public buses run well, and are the best way to get around, particularly if you are living outside of the city center and are commuting into Florence. Tickets can be bought at newsagents and a single ticket is valid for 90 minutes after you make the purchase. You can buy them on the bus, but this is considered an inconvenience by people waiting to get on. There is only one tram line in Florence, which goes from the Santa Maria Novella train station down to a suburb southwest of the city.
Safety and Security
Florence is generally a relatively safe city, as the northern cities have generally less crime than the south of Italy. However, the city is buzzing with tourists all year round, so opportunist thieves do take advantage from time to time. The train station is particularly bad for pickpockets so be aware of your belongings and of your surroundings at all times. Tourists are an obvious target, but there are certain cautions that can be taken, for example, putting your bag on beneath your jacket, or keeping your hand on your wallet at all times. If you have an inside pocket in your jacket, keep your possessions in there. Public transport is also a high risk place for thieves. There are beggars around Florence, and the best thing to do is to keep walking, particularly as some beggars will attempt to distract tourists while a pickpocket steals from them, in return for a share of the find.