Florence is the capital city of Tuscany, a region of beautiful landscapes, mountains and rugged coastlines of Italy.
Despite the destruction that occurred during World War II and the devastating floods of 1966, Florence retains a historic city centre and proud heritage that draws visitors from around the world.
Florence was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982, and it has been described by Forbes as “one of the most beautiful cities in the world”.
For gay rights in Italy, please see our Gay Rome City Guide page.
Florence has a relatively small, friendly, laid-back gay scene. Florentines are generally very welcoming to tourists, gay and straight. Florence has no specific gay area, but the city is compact enough to walk from one venue to another.
Many gay Italians are happy to be entirely open about their sexuality. Signs of affection are common between both gay and heterosexual men when they greet each other. Be considerate and don’t touch below the waistline in public, as this is deemed inappropriate.
Entrance to most cruise clubs and saunas requires an ANDDOS Club card. You can get purchase the card from any participating venue. Photo ID is required to buy the card which is valid for 3 months.
The Amerigo Vespucci International Airport is located a few miles from the city centre. The only problem is that very few airlines fly to this airport, so you’ll end up flying to Pisa International Airport instead. From Amerigo Vespucci, you may as well take a taxi from outside the airport into Florence which costs between €20-25.
From Pisa International, take the mover bus to PisaMover bus to Pisa central station where you will then that depart to Florence’s station Santa Maria Novella. Journeys take no longer than an hour and tickets cost €9.30 (including PisaMover).
A bus service is provided by a company called Terravision. Buses leave from outside the Pisa International arrivals hall and will drop you outside Santa Maria Novella at a cost of around €4.99 one way.
Tickets for both bus and train can be purchased in the arrivals hall. Neither of these services operate late at night, and the taxi alternative won’t be cheap in Italy.
Florence can be reached by train from Rome (1.5 hours) and Milan (3 hours).
Florence is small and most of the sights, restaurants, shopping destinations and gay venues are within walking distance of each other. Walking is a great way to take in the sites of such a beautiful and remarkable city. Cars are not permitted in most of the centre, but watch out for speeding vespa mopeds.
Taxis are reliable and easy to find but expensive – even for short journeys. Taxis are identifiable by a blue sign with TAXI written in white. If there are cars waiting, it does not necessarily mean that the driver is working. It is not unusual to see groups of taxi drivers laughing and chatting in groups on the street. Try Piazza della Republica, Piazza della Stazione, Piazza Santa Maria Novella, Piazza del Duomo and Piazza Santa Croce for taxis.
By train and bus
Trains and bus services are cheap but don’t tend to stick to schedule. Make sure you validate your ticket before getting on a train or bus. Just watch and copy what everyone else is doing. English-speaking staff are available at Piazza della Stazione to help you plan out your journey. Bus tickets start from €1.20.
There is a tram that runs from Florence to Scandicci, the industrial hub of the city. You cannnot buy tickets on the tram and they are the same price as buses in the city.
Florence has an excellent choice of hotels to suit all budgets. For our list of popular Florence hotels for gay travellers, visit our Gay Florence Hotels page.
Be aware that most museums are closed on Mondays.
Duomo – Florence’s impressive cathedral dominates the sky form every angle of the city and is impossible to miss. All paths seem to lead to it.
Campanile – The Cathedral’s bell tower is a 414-step climb, well worth it for the view, plus in the summer it feels cool inside.
Galleria dell’Accademia – The queues winding outside this place are all waiting to see one thing Michelangelo’s statue of David, the most famous statue in the world.
Palazzo Vecchio – The most important city square is dominated with Florence’s giant Town Hall. The building was built to represent the strength of Florence in the 13th century. The area now is scattered with restaurants and pizza joints.
Uffizi– The gallery goes on forever and is a real treat for Renaissance art lovers. The outside of the gallery is covered in some amazing statues that represent some of Florence’s finest men.
Ponte Vecchio – Florence’s oldest bridge running over the Arno River dates back to the 14th century and is full of jewellery shops.
Cappelle Medici – The spectacular Medici mausoleum is the most stunning part of the San Lorenzo basilica and must not be missed.
Piazza Santa Croce – The Piazza is dominated by the Gothic church of Santa Croce and the area has managed to keep its medieval charm and combine it with new restaurants and bars that scatter the area. This is a great location to pull up a chair in the sun and relax and watch the activity.
Boboli Gardens – The gardens are part of the Pitti Palace and are absolutely remarkable.
Santo Spirito – a slightly run-down area in the city that is great for dinner and a night out. Its crumbling facades seem to add character to the area.
Florence has a very hot climate in the summer and winter can be quite cool. Florence gets rain – normally torrential downpours for one or two days a week during the winter. All other days are sunny and the sky is blue even in winter.
The best months of the year to visit are May, June, September and October. Try to avoid Easter, July and August when you will face big queues for museums and good restaurants.
Whilst Florence is well-known for Renaissance art and architecture, it is equally famous for its fashion industry and a huge number of leather and luxury designer shops.
The focal point for famous Italian luxury clothing shops is on Via de’Tornabuoni, for leather wear head for Santa Croce, the Centro Storico for perfumes, San Lorenzo for good quality food stuff and the Ponte Vecchio for jewellery.
Shops generally open at 09:00 and close at 13:00, reopen at 15:30 and close at 19:30. Most shops are shut on Monday mornings and for the last two weeks of August.
So dress up and go and do what Florentines do best.
Italy is a member of the euro zone. ATM’s (bancomat) are widely available around Florence. If you’re paying with cash, ask for a discount (it’s expected and you should get it).
Most shops will ask for ID if you pay with a credit card. Foreign exchange offices (cambio) are located close to all main tourist areas.
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