Living in Florence
I have been living in Florence for quite a long time but I must be honest… still the numbers in the streets can be kind of a challenge …
Thus, before I start this little article listing some advices and addresses, I would like to write a short history of the numbering system.
During the nineteenth century, Florence experienced a massive urban renewal. The simple busineses like people selling from the carts and the market stalls just out of the ground floor of family homes were evolving towards the kind we have nowdays: they were separate from homes and no longer positioned outside, in the streets.
This new assessment posed a municipal issue on how to distinguish home addresses from business ones and, as it was impossible to renumber the entire town, a new classification was born.
The result was – and still is – homes have black numbers and businesses have red numbers so when you see one number listed in the address followed by ‘r’ this means rosso (red) and you will find it in the building, written in red or in black with ‘R’ immediately following. However…Pay attention: the red and black numbers do not very often correspond! So you may be likely get mad at some point… but Italians are very kind and a stop at the first shop will be very helpful because shop keepers will understand your frustration for sure.
I would love to share some addresses now: I do not know from where to start, they are so many ! it is not easy and will never be exhaustive (expect me to be back again and again on my ‘to see—to go – to do’ list), however here I am starting from some of my favorite spots.
The original navigators of the Arno river were called renaioli. These workers, who pushed their boats with poles, were responsible for digging the sand out of the river bed to be mixed into the mortar for the construction of all the Florentine palazzos, walls and roads.
In the Renaissance, during the rebuilding of the town centre, the Renaioli worked very hard for a very low salary. Thanks to the initiative of the association called ‘Renaioli’ you can today have a fantastic view from the Arno river, getting on one of the typical boats they use for charming little cruises at sundown. The nice men will wait for you on the river bank not far from the Ponte Vecchio and will tell stories of past and present times of the city once you are on board.
BOTANIC GARDEN GIARDINO DEI SEMPLICI
Should you come to Florence on a nice autumn or Spring day, take the chance to spend some time to discovering a hidden gem.
Set up for the cultivation of exotic plants and research into their uses, this garden was planted in 1545 for order of Cosimo I, on lands seized from an order of Dominican nuns. Essential oils were extracted, perfumes distilled and cures and antidotes sought for various ailments and poisons. It is the third oldest garden in the world, belonging to the Florence University. In the 20th century the beautiful area saw destruction because of the war and luckily nowdays it is again a wonderful and peaceful venue, and the largest in Italy.
Via Micheli, 3 open Monday to Friday
Entrance ticket €3,00
GIULIO GIANNINI E FIGLIO
Since 1856 the family firm of Giulio Giannini e figlio (and son) has been producing traditional Florentine paper, based on Italian Renaissance patterns and motifs.
The family is also famous for precious book binding and for producing marbled paper.
Marbled paper is made in a basin filled with gelatinous liquid of plant origin. This base is then splattered with a variety of colors, which float on the surface. The artisan, using combs or pieces of wood, swirls the colors that spread and blend to form a beautiful pattern. After the final touches, a sheet of paper is gently placed on the surface of the liquid. In just a few seconds the paper absorbs the colors, creating the decoration. A skillful artisan is able to complete a series using the same design. In the shop you will find the loveliest journals, address books, cards.
Piazza pitti, 37 red
Before sidewalks were created in Florence less than two centuries ago, there was a traditional way of offering resting places for strangers and visitors as a sign of the magnanimity of the owners. They were also very useful to hide cellar windows and although they started disappearing when traffic increased, it is still possible to see them on Palazzo Strozzi and on Palazzo Medici Riccardi.
Jogging in this wonderful city and surroundings is a special experience!
I love jogging early morning around Piazzale Michelangelo and Pian dei Giullari: it is quite an effort but the views are worth the sweat… If you like jogging at sunset, you will be even more delighted… unforgettable colors will be in your memories forever!
In the middle of the very busy area called Sant’Ambrogio, very near to the market itself you will find a cozy and nice place for your morning breakfast or for your lunch. I adore sitting inside in the comfy red velvet armchairs, hiding from the hustle of the people outside but some of my friends really adore sitting outside and just people-watch during the meal: very Italian and very amazing too.
Via del Verrocchio, 5
We stopped there once for a drink and it smelled so good we went back again and again.
There is no one coming to take your order but the food and drinks are taken to the tables.
I love the casual seating inside but also the nice benches outside.
There is a great vibe, nice managers, and you will find a lot of Florentines too!
Via di S. Niccolò, 23
I have discovered this venue thanks to a client of mine and will be grateful to her forever as I try not to enter in restaurants that are very near to famous touristic places.
Golden View is a true exception and a wonderful surprise.
The rooms are very airy and overlook to the magnificent Uffizi Gallery, to the historical rowing society and to the well known Ponte Vecchio.
Tommaso, the owner and manager, is also an art lover and collector and quite often you will find very lovely paintings on display.
Go there for fish, it is fresh, delicious and beautifully presented! Pizza is a must too.
Via dei Bardi 58 red open daily non stop from noon to midnight