Florence can, on occasion, seem like a tourist nightmare--or at least an oddly artistic version of Peoria--what with all the people clogging the streets in front of ornate, Renaissance monuments, chattering in English and wondering where they can find a Starbucks so they can get some chemical flavorings in their 36 ounce coffees.
Yes, you can get herded through Florence like all the others, tethered invisibly to a guide wielding a brightly colored umbrella despite the unrelenting summer sun. The guide will tell you what guides tell everyone, so at least your visit will be full of the details your friends might quiz you upon.
But Florence has some interesting nooks and crannies. The art and the Florentine attitude toward artists and visionaries, however kooky, make it a magnet for folks who do work the old fashioned way, the way it was meant to be done, by hand and by inspiration that no company could ever harvest or duplicate. So why not see these interesting places, or actually participate in something like a fresco workshop to see how its done?
Thus we present some select ideas that have, over the years, turned into tours produced by passionate artisans in the touring biz.
Florence Museum Tickets
Italy, it is said, has more than half the world's most important works of art, and Florence has more than half of those, a huge number when you think about it. There are lots of Museums to visit. There are lots of tourists who want to visit them. So, in the season, there will be lines. If your time is short, you may wish to buy tickets in advance for your favorites. Select Italy is known for its good service, and you'll have your tickets in hand before you go, albeit at a bit of a premium in price: Florence Museum Tickets.
Florence Arts Tours
Art and Excess at the Court of the Medici Grand Dukes takes you through the little, 35,000 foot Pitti palace, renovated as a private home in 1549 by Eleonora di Toledo (yeah, Holy Toledo!). This is a private tour, get your friends together and share the cost, unless you're in the same financial boat as Eleonora.
Renaissance Craftsmen of the 21st Century takes you through the world of the folks who've been attracted to the artistic aura of modern Florence--and, like tourists, there are a lot of them, from paper makers to wood carvers.
Got kids? You might be interested in Towers, Lions, and Gelato: Florence for Children.
Getting Around Florence Oddly
Segway Tour: Historic Florence with a Modern Twist. Ok, unless you're way younger than me, you'll feel self-conscious on the self-balancing two-wheeled, sissy-roller called a Segway. Buy hey, they cost a lot, take little human energy to run and thus represent modern technology at its finest. Thread your way through gawking tourists and see the sites faster than you would have on foot. Enjoy the contrast between the modern and the ancient. Wear a hat. You can also see Tuscany on a Vespa!
More on Florence
Florence Climate and Weather: Find out how sweltering it is expected to be on your summer vacation.
Florence Attractions Map - get a map with the top attractions pinned to it.
Hotels in Florence, Italy - Compare prices on Florence hotels.