Tip #1 – Fountains
Outside of the Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria, you’ll often see people queuing up alongside one of the walls to use one of two water fountains, especially on a typical Italian summers day. Avoid the queues by walking right around the back of the ‘Fountain of Neptune’ & you’ll find a small fountain that most people seem to neglect. Refill your bottle here, or place your hand on the bottom of the tap & water will shoot up from a smaller hole for sipping.
Warning – Careful not to drench yourself when ‘sipping’, the water is pretty strong.
Tip #2 – Statue of David
Sure, you want to see everything that Florence has to offer but you’re stuck for time, you’ve only 12 hours in the city & the thought of queuing for most of it to see ‘The David’ (where cameras are sometimes not permitted) drains the excitement out of you. Fear not, you can still get those shots you want to take back home for your school friends, work colleagues & family by framing up the David replica placed in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. No one will even be able to tell the difference (ITALIAN/Franca – Unless they’ve used our tip themselves *wink*).
Tip #3 – Uffizi
Whatever you’ve heard or read about the queuing for the Uffizi gallery is true. From 0800 to 1800, there’s a queue a mile long, and after queuing ourselves we’d say its completely worth it.
We got lucky, we arrived at about 800, tagged ourselves onto the end of the queue and waited about 1hr 45 (or thereabouts). If we’d been any later we’d have been lucky to have been in before midday.
Tip #4 – Cross the River
Everyone will – at some point – cross over the Ponte Vecchio & maybe wander down the road to glimpse or enter the Palazzo Pitti, but how many people will push themselves a little further to explore some more. Some of you would do so without our suggestion, but to those who hadn’t considered it just yet, make sure you do.
There are a feast of things to take in from the other side of the Arno, not only can you see the Sunset from the Heights of Florence, but you can also see less know churches, the Cappella Brancacci in Santa maria Del Carmine & the Basilica di Santo Spirito (and attached Cenacolo di Santo Spirito).
Our top tip however, is reserved for the Piazza di Santo Spirito. The same location as the Basilica di Santo Spirito, this area – formally dedicated as a space to pray in should the church become too crowded – holds occasional markets but is chiefly used by local students, hipsters & socialites to catch up over coffee, or, to feast at the local eateries, all offering a great selection of food & more than acceptable prices. Be sure to stop by Volume, a relaxed place for a coffee or glass of wine with books on the wall where drinking & laughter can be often see spilling out onto the street. Hip.
Tip #5 – Alternatives to I Fratellini
Anyone who’s done their fair share of reading up of guides, how to’s & books before travelling to Florence will probably have heard of I Fratellini on ‘Via dei Cimatori’ (last street before Piazza della Signoria) and their remarkably cheap & wide selection of paninos & cups of wine at just a few euros each. Sold from what’s been described as a ‘hole-in-the-wall’, this cute little place can become quite busy throughout the day & especially during the tourist months. Our tip would be to walk a little further down the street and choose one of the other small sandwich shops that are dotted along the same left hand side wall as I Fratellini.
Just as cheap & with a perfectly moderate selection of fillings, if you’d rather not wait – any of these places will see you skipping back down the lane between the people in the queue, panino in hand.