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.
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 and in most cases you'll avoid the ticket purchase lines, albeit at a bit of a premium in price: Florence Museum Tickets.
Walkers who love art and architecture may enjoy Skip The Line: Best of Florence Walking Tour including Accademia Gallery and Duomo offered by Viator. Walks of Italy offers:
And sometimes, you just want a walk with someone who knows the city and its history well and maybe you'll stop for a bit of what we call ice cream, but better: Welcome to Florence: Evening City Stroll & Gelato.
Or maybe you just want to get out of Florence and see other places in Tuscany: Tuscany Day Trip From Florence With Chianti, Siena and San Gimignano.
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.
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!
In America, we wouldn't often think of giving up the fine restaurants in the city to go to the countryside to eat. In Tuscany, and especially from Florence, it's a very good thing to do. Eating food at its source is one of the benefits of a country not rife with commercial crap food establishments to rip at your innards. Very popular is the Viator Wine and Dine in the Tuscan Countryside Including a Night Tour of Florence.
If you tire of restaurants in a city full of tourist joints, it might be a good idea to have dinner with a person passionate about local cuisine, a person who could clue you in to the best hidden attractions of the city. Explore the opportunities in Where to eat in Florence, Italy via BonAppetour.