Shops in Florence are open from around 9am to 7.30pm, but most shut for at least two hours sometime between noon and 4pm. A long lunch break in a trattoria, followed by a snooze or “riposo”, remains a local institution.
Florence – Photo Tip

Real life happens not far from the crowd

Photo by Jurjen Drenth

Florence – Photo Tip Real life happens not far from the crowd

When I am in Florence, I always try to imagine what amazing energy there must have been in its glorious past when all those great artists were creating their masterpieces.

Jurjen Drenth
Jurjen Drenth Travel Photographer

That life force is still dripping from the walls as you walk around Uffizi and Piazza della Signoria, where David’s shadow moves over the wall of Palazzo Vecchio. It is a special place, but so many visitors just concentrate on the best-known attractions.

So do I, but I also like to cross Ponte Vecchio and wander the small streets where almost no other visitors go. Real life is only a few hundred meters away from the crowd.

I like to eat somewhere I can smell the real Italian atmosphere before I throw myself back into the crowded places again. I was just having lunch when this lad came around the corner as the chemist was having a conversation in front of his shop. Then the chef walked past with his empty boxes.

The cyclist with his dog was at a local crossing near the Uffizi. What I like so much about the Italians is that they always stay true to themselves. That’s why the city retains so much character and self-identity despite the crowds of tourists.

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Scooters and motorbikes are banned from the pedestrianized center of Florence, making cycling a safe way to get around. The city government runs a bike hire scheme to encourage both visitors and locals away from motorized transport. Photo by Jurjen Drenth

Jurjen Drenth

Jurjen Drenth

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Aperture
ƒ/4
Exposure
1/125
ISO
200
Focal
28 mm

Scooters and motorbikes are banned from the pedestrianized center of Florence, making cycling a safe way to get around. The city government runs a bike hire scheme to encourage both visitors and locals away from motorized transport.

Other stories about Florence

Tourism may be a mainstay of Florence’s economy but it also has a thriving industrial sector based on its history of craftsmanship. Italy’s fashion industry relies on the city for the production of goods such as leather, including shoes, as well as jewelry, embroidery, textiles, ceramics and metalwork.

Peek over the walls and you'll see the real Florence

“Rome is a whore,” says Giambaccio, a ploud Florence native. It has just gone midnight, and we have wandered through the moonstruck streets around Florence’s Piazza San Spirito for hours before winding up here: in a haphazardly cluttered art studio Giambaccio has modeled on a ship’s deck. “She opens her legs for everybody. But Florence...” He mimes chastity – the shutting of two knees – with his fingers. “We are a walled city. We are closed.”