Florence is a city where its inhabitants are greatly tied to their habits, as these are special moments of relaxation that characterize a true Florentine. These are specific “traditions” that identify a “D.O.C.” Florentine. Therefore, here we want to advise our travelers, on how to live the true Florence, so forget about museums, churches and main streets. It goes without saying that Florentines know or think they know everything about their city, the beauty and history of their city, it is innate in them. Everyone feels kissed by so many genes, such as Leonardo’s or Botticelli’s or those of a fine politician such as Lorenzo the Magnificent.
Let’s start with a ritual that everyone has experienced, at least once in their life. Watching the sunrise in Piazzale Michelangelo, possibly after a night spent with friends talking about anything and everything, laughing about the great meaning of life, with a spirit somewhere between melancholic, cynical and romantic. Then, around 5 a.m., when the soft pink color of the sunrise draws the Florentine hills, you reach the Piazzale, and everyone knows that you would be speaking of Piazzale Michelangelo. The sun marks the beginning to a perfect day. A sense of peace and silence, where below the city looks beautiful, almost as if in a dream.
After this vision, worthy of Dante in Paradise, it is time for a nice cappuccino with brioche (croissant). Cappuccino and brioche. An indispensable breakfast, every Florentine has a place where to have them that is nearer to the heart. Surely, our city does not lack excellent pastry shops. The art of making a cappuccino is very delicate, the cup must not be too liquid nor too foamy, but a successful blend that can even make a sad Monday in November turn pink. Regarding the sweet piece of choice, here it is the brioche, or as it has been called in the last years, cornetto (croissant), it is nearly a derivation from Rome, stuffed with jam, or chocolate, or honey, whole or well cooked, it is a suitable breakfast to face a very long day. Another tradition is somewhat linked to the cappuccino and brioche.
Florentines usually love “their” coffee bar; there they know the owners and the personnel. Thus, if you were to be there on a Monday, you can rest assured that you will find a great discussion and talk, at times with raging tones, and then more pessimistic ones, regarding the whole city’s other great love: Fiorentina. The team with the purple jersey, which is delight and pain for the whole population. At least once per match, a poster, a scarf, a portrait of Antognoni, the never forgotten football player, who was the hero of the 1982 World Championship. All have the exclusive formula to win; all are coaches under a magnifying glass.
Another advice. You should visit Florence on one or more of the following festivities. Florentines love their traditional feast days, and here you may find a selected choice of some of them. Easter day: the blast of the Carro (Chariot) in Piazza Duomo; June 24th, St. John’s Day, Patron Saint of Florence with a great parade wearing sixteenth century costumes for the costume soccer/football finale. In the evening, you should absolutely watch the “FOCHI” (fireworks in a Florentine accent), if you can manage it, somewhere on the Lungarno, in a bush looking up. By the end of it, there is the great applause. They are always stunning, but the ones from previous years… from this one can understand the melancholic sense that Florence hides behind a joke, a seeming smile, or a suffered indifference. Time passes relentlessly.
Another great appointment loved by the Florentines is that of the Rificolona, the feast of the Most Holy Announciation on September 7th, when every child receives a paper lamp with a candle lit in it, to illuminate the night, possibly having it hanging from the window. Beautiful show.
Another of the Florentines’ great loves are the small neighborhood markets. I recommend the one in Sant’Ambrogio, not far from Piazza Santa Croce. It is quite detached from the usual itineraries, even if it is close to Santa Croce. You can find here all the freshest products, fruits, vegetables, flowers and not only. There are also fabrics, vintage clothes, dishes and pottery … You can walk or get there by bike, and on the way back you can stop and buy, in one of the wonderful bakeries along the square, Tuscan bread and the Schiacciata (focaccia bread).
Then let’s not forget the panino al lampredotto (sandwich with lampredotto in it), which has been the precursor of all street foods, feeding the Florentines for centuries. Here, as well, we must apply the same “logic” as per the pastry shops and coffee bars. Every Florentine has “its own sandwich with lampredotto”. It could be in Via Gioberti, not far from Piazza Beccaria, or in the Piazzetta dei Cerchi, behind Piazza della Signoria or the Market of San Lorenzo. Here are some possible choices to live Florence with irony, fun and to look closely at how pleasant it is to live in this city.