Florence, ‘the cradle of the Renaissance’, is a wonderful city, full of art, history, culture, traditions and good things to eat and drink. It is also extremely touristy because it is unique and its beauty draws visitors from all over the world. As in all cities with mass tourism, it pays to heed advice and a few warnings to ensure your stay isn’t spoiled.
Advice from a local tour guide:
Reservations are made easily online through an agent such as Get Your Guide. You receive a code and pick up the ticket at the museum on the day at the pre-booked time. Be sure to join the short pick-up queue, not the long one for people who haven’t booked.
Reservations with GetYourGuide can be easily canceled online or changed. If you prefer to book by phone, get the number from Florence’s own booking site for museums. Take care to check whether the ticket can be cancelled or changed if necessary.
You will have to pay at least 20 euros per day to park outside the zone and the same amount even if your hotel gives you a permit to enter the zone (See the ZTL map and information here). Florence is smaller than it seems – Go on foot, use buses, or rent a bicycle.
As in all the cities of the world, there is petty crime and it is advisable to be careful, especially with your wallet, and remain in the busiest streets at night – as you probably would at home. A little common sense will suffice.
There are fewer tourists, especially if you avoid the Christmas season. You don’t have to queue for museums, which are relatively quiet: nobody talks around you or pushes you while you admire Botticelli’s Venus or Michelangelo’s David, and even squares are not crowded.
In November you can see how the colours of the Florentine hills and parks change and become warm; you can taste the new wine and the new oil.
In December the city becomes even more beautiful with Christmas lights, and in January the sales start: what better time and place to go shopping?