Florence happens to rank very high on my travel bucket list. So much about it is exquisite, from Italy’s golden sunshine to the sweet cold gelato which can be simultaneously enjoyed in the many extraordinary piazzas, each one echoing with the rich history of the region. If the first thing you know about Florence is that you definitely want to include it in your summer travel plans, here are ten more things that are good to know.
1. You can call it Firenze.
This city is amazing whether you call it “Florence”, “Firenze”, or “Bob.” However, in keeping with the spirit of personal cultural enrichment, bypass any exported term and call it “Firenze”, as the locals do.
2. Florence was the heart of the Renaissance.
The 15th century in Florence was characterized by incredible accomplishment in the areas of art, science, architecture and philosophy. At the center of the movement was the Medici’s, a powerful and ambitious family whose footprints are still seen throughout Florence. You can follow in their paths and learn so much about this remarkable period with a rental car in Florence!
3. Florence is stuffed to the brim with historic art museums.
There is psychological term for the dizzying feeling that comes after spending the day experiencing dazzling beauty. The term is Stendhal Syndrome, and it was coined when a writer described the effect during an 1817 visit to Florence. Everyone should take the chance to see Boticelli’s The Birth of the Venus at Galleria degli Uffizi and the fantastic sculptures by Michalangelo at Bargello. You can even see the instruments used by Galileo in the Institute and Museum of the History of Science; many of the artifacts here are important works of art in their own right. It’s important to note that the museums of the city are incredibly popular and prone to lines, owing to the enthusiasm that visitors have for all beautiful offerings. The way to avoid this is to book museum tickets in advance when possible, or even purchase a 72 hour city pass, which seems pricy upfront, but includes admission to dozens of museums and can place you right at the front of the line.
4. Florence was the birthplace of the modern Italian language.
When Dante wrote The Divine Comedy, he made the very intentional and political decision to write it in the local dialect rather than Latin, which was the preferred written language of the church. While language is fluid and evolves with every passing year, the language currently spoken throughout Italy is a very close approximation to the words that this poet penned in the 14th century.
5. Opera was invented in Florence.
The Medici influence didn’t just affect the painters, sculptures and architects of the time; they were also major patrons of music and gathered the most talented musicians they could for their performances. In stretching the known limitations of the human voice, a mesmerizing medium for theatrical storytelling was birthed. You can enjoy world-class opera in its very cradle, and hang on words sung as thoroughly as a human voice can take them.
6. You can stay cool in this hot, hot city.
It’s no lie that well-paved Firenze gets a little toasty in the summertime; from June through September, the average daily high temperatures rise well into the high 20’s or low 30’s. Thankfully, there are numerous expansive outdoor pools, ice-cold gelatos and air-conditioned rental cars. It may be nicest to roam the museums by morning and then spend a lazy afternoon by a sunny poolside, or in a cool spa receiving massage and sipping iced beverages. In the cool of the evening, you can walk along the Arno and feel a cool evening breeze as you explore the pleasant atmosphere of the city’s nightlife.
7. Florence has numerous points from which to catch breathtaking urban views.
It would be impossible to overemphasize the intense beauty of this 2,000 year old city. To see Florence from the center, stroll along the Arno River, cross at the historic Ponte Vecchio. Built in the 14th century, it was the first bridge to span the shining river that cuts through Florence, and it’s the only medieval bridge to have survived World War II. For a more panoramic view of the entire city, you can climb the 400 steps of Il Duomo in the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. You should also be sure to check out the intricate ceiling mosaics within. While the historic old town section of Florence is enough to fill multiple vacations, or a lifetime of study for art historians, chefs and literary enthusiasts, it has an added blessing of location. It is placed smack-dab in the center of a truly flourishing countryside of hills and fields, quaint old-world villages and ancient ruins. From the impressive height of the Duomo, you can catch glimpses of the mountainous greenery that surrounds the ancient stone streets.
8. The shopping is fantastic.
With a strong tradition in art and visual design, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Florence is known for being fashionable. This town has carried on a tradition of leading the world in textiles since the 1300’s, and remains, to this day, one of the top 20 most influential fashion cities. If you like names such as Gucci and Prada, you will find them well represented in the elegant boutiques of this town. For stunning hand-worked leather and fantastic bargains, you may hit open air markets where haggling is encouraged for sport and deals.
9. The food is just incredible.
I may have mentioned in the past paragraph that the leather traded of Florence is remarkable. Where there is leather, it would stand to reason that there is steak. Florence is absolutely notorious for its steaks. Expect massive kilogram-sized cuts, grilled to tender pink perfection and not a degree beyond. These are best shared among two or more diners, and restaurants usually appreciate knowing that you are hoping for steak when you make your reservation so they can prepare it. The abundance of local produce from the nearby Tuscan farms and rich wine selection provides ample accompaniment to a meal that is as much of an event as it is a basic nutritional necessity. Vegetarians also do well in this city, with rich pastas, zuppas and sweet Florentine breads. At the end of any meal, there are arrays of sweet sorbettos and gelatos to cleanse the palette and keep you returning to Florence time and time again.
10. Renting a car in Florence puts Tuscany at your fingertips.
Auto Europe provides discounts on rental cars in downtown Florence or the convenient Florence Peretola Airport. Whether you are sweeping a small tour group about the city in a cool, air-conditioned van or taking a tour of wine country in a sporty convertible, our large fleet ensures that you will be able to choose just the right vehicle to suit your needs. We even offer great deals on luxury car rentals if you’re looking to drive your own work of art through the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. When you rent a car in Florence, you can take on just the Tuscan hillsides, or the entire country of Italy: it’s your choice. Our Italy driving information page provides helpful tips for taking on the roads of Italy in a rental car.
If you’re going to take on the summertime road trip of your dreams with a Florence rental car, you can choose quality by choosing Auto Europe. We have more than six decades in partnering with only the most reputable suppliers to ensure your satisfaction throughout the car rental process. It take just minutes to reserve your rental car through our web site’s three-step booking engine, or you can call us at any time, 24/7. Our toll-free number is 1-888-223-5555.