Do’s and Dont’s in Florence
DO have lunch at the Central Market
The Mercato di San Lorenzo (known as Mercato Centrale) is the main indoor food market in Florence. It is divided into two floors that have specific features: the first floor is open every day except for Sundays, from 7 am to 3 pm, and is filled with locals that go grocery shopping or inquisitive tourists that taste samples like salumi, prosciutto, balsamic vinegar, or schiacciata placed at disposal on the bars by the sellers.
You can try all these specialties and get information before you decide what you’d like to take with you. Counters displaying a great choice of local meats, fresh fruits, and vegetables, fresh fish, freshly baked bread and cakes, places for street food are present in large quantities!
On the second floor instead, the market is open every day from 8 am to midnight, and it has a modern look! Large tables with numerous seats make each meal a shared experience; you can sit wherever you like (or book a table at the restaurant “Tosca” or “The Pizzeria”… but this is not the best way to live the spirit of the market!).
All the stores are run by artisan traders and chefs specialized in something particular or uniquenesses of the “Italian cuisine”. There is something for all tastes and the quality and originality are daily occurrences! It is preferable to opt for the Central Market on weekdays and to don’t go to lunch right from 12.30 or 13.30 pm to avoid the crowds.
DO wear comfortable shoes.
It’s true, today’s streets aren’t any more the Medieval or the Renaissance ones (although it sounds very poetic and romantic). The city is by no means frozen in time! But the floor is uneven, especially in the narrow streets in the city center. Heels are highly advised! Ladies, if you can’t help it, wear them only to go out for dinner… by taxi!
DON’T look for good Italian leather… in San Lorenzo’s leather market!
The market developed around the Mercato Centrale (the lively two-level indoor food market) can be recognized thanks to the numerous stalls selling souvenirs, clothes, and leather. It’s open every day from 9 am to 7 pm (except for Festive Days and Mondays), and it makes the district characteristic and colorful. This is the place where to find cheap kinds of stuff and touristy things. Here you can find jackets or bags at great prices or bargain with the sellers but the quality of the products is not excellent and frequently they are imported.
The important thing is to be aware of it. If you want to buy something that reminds you of the excellence of the Italian manufacture it is best to go and buy leather to an artisan’s store: it’s the typical investment that pays off over time and the only way to ensure you a more durable, original and hand-made product.
DON’T come to Florence with your own car (you don’t need it!)
Florence is one of the most important Italian cities nevertheless it’s not equipped with an International Airport. Anyway, it is easy to reach by train from Pisa, the city with the nearest International Airport (PSA, Galileo Galilei). From this last one, trains depart every half-hour to the central train station of Florence (Santa Maria Novella) for around 13 euros, the trip takes about 1 hour 20 minutes.
The same station is well connected to the other most popular destinations, like Rome (reachable in 1 hour 40 minutes) and Venice (reachable in 1 hour 40 minutes). The railway system’s performances are generally greatly appreciated by the travelers, and the cost of the tickets is undoubtedly for all budgets (if you buy them in advance!)
The use of private cars isn’t recommended; in old cities like Florence, the access in the central streets is restricted and the narrowness of some of the roads and the high number of scooters can put a strain upon even the most expert drivers. To say nothing of the difficulties of parking the car!
Only a few hotels have a private car park and the possibility of opting for the garages doesn’t suit every pocket! To get around the city you can opt for a walk because the whole center is easily accessible from accommodations located within the city walls, or for a taxi (main companies tel. +390554242 or +390554390).
Author: Our expert local guide in Florence, Chiara Certini