Why I’ll never return to Florence

David replica | Florence

Fake David | Palazzo Vecchio

In fact, I’m not afraid to say that I even hate Florence.

Go ahead, tell me I’m crazy. Tell me how wrong and ignorant I am. Lecture me about how I should give Florence another chance.

It all will be for naught, however, as my mind is made up. After two separate visits to Florence, five years apart, I can firmly and definitively state: I will never go back.

I made my very first trip to Italy in 2006 at the age of 32. That means I’d had plenty of time to figure out what parts of Italy I wanted to see most and, at that time, Florence was at the top of the list. After all, it is the birthplace of the Renaissance and its historic center has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Such significance and distinction is why I wanted to visit Florence more than any other place in Italy on my first trip to the Motherland. Perhaps it was due to my extraordinarily high expectations, but Florence let me down. I was there with my sister, Felicia, in early October. We booked and stayed at a hostel just a few blocks from the Duomo. The hostel and its employees were great; we have no complaints there. But the city itself was disappointing; it just didn’t feel very… Italian.

Now, when I travel, I travel to seek out the authentic. I travel to become immersed in unfamiliar cultures via language and cuisine. I experienced very little of that in Florence (aside from the couple of outstanding meals we did enjoy). Walking through the streets of Florence, I rarely heard Italian being spoken. The throngs of tourists were unbearable. The groups of drunk American college students were embarrassing (and I’m American so I can say that). Everything was way more expensive than in any other Italian town or city we visited. After pleasantly enriching experiences in places like Assisi and even Venice, Florence was just miserable.

I know; you’re probably wondering, “How could Florence – home to David and other significant works of art – be miserable?” With only four days in Florence, my sister and I decided ahead of time that we would not spend all of our time waiting in line to get into the museums and galleries. If the lines were bearable, fine. But if the wait was hours-long, we’d have to skip it. That’s what ended up happening, except for Galleria dell’Accademia. I wasn’t going to finally get to Florence and not get in to see David. Luckily, I’d found out about a service that allows visitors to buy tickets and reserve entrance times in advance, so as to bypass the long queues. It was worth the few extra Euros, but a similar service is not something I’d want to spend money on for the other museums and galleries in the city.

Almost five years later, I was back in Tuscany, staying at a villa in a small Tuscan town about an hour away from Florence. This time I was there with my husband, our then-two-year-old daughter, and my mother. We spent our days visiting towns such as San Gimignano and Pienza, and then someone in our party suggested going to Florence. I objected at first but then thought it might be nice for my husband and my mother to see the city (this was their first time in Italy). I also hoped that I would have a much different experience than the first time I was there. Both my husband and my mother now will tell you that they wish to never return to Florence. They, too, were turned off by the crowds, the lines, and the prices. We couldn’t get out of the city quickly enough. As for my experience, I found it to be even more crowded and more miserable the second time around. It was challenging, also, trying to navigate a stroller through the hordes of people. Never again, I vowed.

All this being said, Florence does have some redeeming qualities. I do have a few fond memories from my two trips to Florence, mainly involving the Duomo, or Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. I didn’t expect to react the way I did when I first saw it back in 2006. Here is an excerpt from a post I wrote on my original blog about the first time I caught sight of the Duomo:

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore | Florence

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

I read in my Lonely Planet guidebook that when people first lay eyes on the Duomo in Florence, they are stopped dead in their tracks. They are so awed by the sheer size and grandeur that they are left speechless and motionless. Upon reading this, I thought to myself, “Yeah sure. It’s just a big church. That won’t happen to me when I see it.”

It happened to me.

Felicia and I were busy talking and not really paying attention to where we were when, all of a sudden, we rounded a corner. I happened to look up and caught a glimpse of just a sliver of the Duomo. I stopped dead in my tracks, mouth hung wide open. Goose bumps rippled up and down my bare flesh. I was in awe. My words and pictures could never do justice to this amazing and magnificent structure.

Felicia and I went inside the cathedral later on and lit candles in memory of our grandmother who had passed away six years prior (we were there on her birthday). It was a special, touching moment for us. When I visited again in 2011, I brought my mom inside the cathedral so she and I could again light candles in my grandmother’s – her mother’s – memory. No matter how much I dislike Florence, I will always cherish the memory of witnessing my mother overcome with emotion as she lovingly remembered her own mother.

Another Florence favorite of mine is Ponte Vecchio. It’s visually stunning and architecturally fascinating. Here’s what I wrote about Ponte Vecchio after my first visit:

It is the only bridge to have survived German bomb attacks during World War II. Some stories claim that Ponte Vecchio was spared as a result of Hitler’s direct orders not to destroy it; the beauty of the bridge supposedly captivated Hitler himself. Felicia and I spent a lot of time on and around Ponte Vecchio, and up and down the banks of the Arno. It is quite a picturesque area but I felt compelled to stay there probably because of all of the history it contains.

Ponte Vecchio | Firenze

Ponte Vecchio

Piazza della Repubblica is nice, too, but Felicia and I were harassed by and recipients of unwanted advances from unsavory men each time we walked through there. One night, two men even followed us as we walked back to our hostel. It was the only time we felt unsafe and uncomfortable anywhere in Italy. Luckily, we were able to lose the two creeps before we got to the hostel.

Florence is a fine city. It just isn’t for me. I appreciate the history, the art, and the beauty. But the crowds ruin it for me. Unless someone offers to show me around in such a way that I don’t have to deal with hordes of people and long lines, I probably won’t ever make another trip to Florence in my life. The rest of the world can enjoy it without me.

Have you been to Florence? What do you think of the city? Have you visited another city or place that turned out to be a complete disappointment?

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62 Responses to Why I’ll never return to Florence

  1. Pola (Jetting Around) August 30, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    Francesca, you and me are both Rome girls! I’ve been to Florence once and it didn’t wow me, so I know what you’re talking about.

    We went in August, out of all months. Imagine the crowds then!! It was painful, not to mention those lines at Ufizzi Gallery. But I really, really wanted to see one of my favorite paintings, Birth of Venus. Once I finally elbowed my way there, I sat down for a good 15 minutes, just staring…

    I had some good experiences in Florence, and they happened when I was able to get away from people. 1) Pizza & wine dinner at a no-frills restaurant somewhere in the city center. In general, the food in Florence was nothing special compared to Perugia or Rome, but that dinner was really good. Also, it helped that the place looked like a hangout for locals, not a tourist trap. 2) Watching the sunset over the river, but not from Ponte Veccio itself (you guessed it – too crowded), but a little to the side. 3) Walking around the city center with hubs at night, when the area was deserted. Now that’s when I started enjoying the city, only to leave the next day…

    I appreciate the history and Renaissance art, but there are other places in Italy I’d rather see before returning to Florence. It’s just ok in my book.

    • Francesca August 31, 2014 at 7:19 am #

      I had some good experiences in Florence, too, but the miserable experiences outweigh the good ones. I’m glad I got to see Florence and have the chance to experience it at all, but – as you said – there are other places in Italy I’d rather see (and rather return to) than Florence.

      Pola + Francesca = Team Roma 🙂

    • Brian June 10, 2018 at 3:29 am #

      I am a Brit/American (two passports). Been to Rome maybe 8-10 times. Been in Florence two days – what a disappointment in every way – wish we had stayed in Rome!!! Dirty, run down, food sucks compared with Rome. Never again!

  2. Susan August 30, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

    Florence is a very special place – it does not have the wow factor that Venice and Rome have and it is not a place to visit in the summer….but with the right person guiding your way and being there at the right time of year, it can enchant you like no other. Next time we go together!

    • Francesca August 31, 2014 at 7:23 am #

      Not every traveler has the luxury or the desire to be shown around by guides or locals, and back during my first visit to Florence, it certainly wasn’t my travel style. That being said, I would be willing to go back a third time with you. Trying to convince me to love Florence, and the experiences we have, would make for a compelling story!

  3. Amber August 30, 2014 at 7:54 pm #

    Hey, I don’t blame you. I have fond memories of Florence, even though were there in the summer (of 2006 as it turns out), with all of the tourists. We also rented an apartment for a few nights, which may have made us feel more local. I felt the same about Venice, during our first visit to Europe together in 2000. They are cities that now I don’t think I would like, as I have traveled more and have spent more time in smaller, less traveled, areas of Italy. I would return to Tuscany in a heartbeat, and am salivating over our trip to Emilia Romagna next month, but I have no interest in heading back to Florence, unless it is to transit. And, you know how I feel about Central America, so I understand how it feels to have an opinion like this about some place lots of people love!

    • Francesca August 31, 2014 at 7:28 am #

      See, here’s the weird part of all this: I loved Venice! When my sister and I were planning for that 2006 trip, she kept suggesting Venice and I was so anti. I was a cool, indie backpacker then and others in the same circle said to avoid Venice at all costs. It’s crowded and stinky and just not the right place for cool, indie backpackers (are you picking up on the sarcasm here??). I let my sister talk me into putting it on our itinerary and I ended up loving it. I’d go back there in a heartbeat!

  4. Raul (@ilivetotravel) August 31, 2014 at 9:27 am #

    FF, I have a similar reaction to Florence. It is too de rigeur. It feels like one needs to go to demonstrate one is “serious” about arts and culture in Italy – and that one must like it. I went to the museums and walked the streets – nothing wrong with the city per se. But in reality, it felt bland to me. It is not Bologna with its red and arcades. Or even Venice, which can be over touristed and perhaps even cliche but yet is SO real (those buildings are really tilted and sinking!). Now, I did love the Duomo in Florence, I must say and would back to see that for sure.

  5. Cathy Sweeney August 31, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    I’ve been hoping to visit Florence sometime soon, but a little apprehensive that I’ll be disappointed — especially since my two prior trips to Italy were mainly spent in less-touristy and small villages in Emilia-Romagna and Puglia. Since it won’t be summer, maybe that will make a difference. Also, it wouldn’t be the only city on the itinerary, so I wouldn’t be making a long-term commitment. At this point, I just want to be back in Italy!

  6. Leah August 31, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    I very much enjoyed Florence, but I love Rome more. Maybe because Rome was my first Italian city, I’m not sure. They both beat the hell out of Naples. 😉

  7. Jenna August 31, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    Interesting how people and their perspectives are different. Florence is my favorite city, and I’d gladly live there. I have an especially strong interest in the Renaissance, though, which increases my love and appreciation for the city. I also don’t like the crowds, but the city is small, and I realize that it’s bound to be packed since it’s one of the most visited cities in the world. I prefer to go in the off-season (even January) and always find that it’s helpful to seek out quieter areas of the city. I prefer to stay in the Oltrarno, for example. The good news for you is that now that you’ve realized it’s not for you, you can use your travel time in places that are more suitable to your interests. 🙂

  8. Fiona September 1, 2014 at 4:57 am #

    Francesca, I agree with you 100% about Florence being a let-down. I visited two years ago and was surprised at how little it impressed me. During my trip to Italy that year, I visited Milan, Lake Como, Verona, Venice and Florence and Pisa and would definitely choose Verona and Venice high above Florence. It was especially disappointing as lots of people had said to me before the trip “you’ll love Florence”. Maybe my expectations were too high!

  9. Annette September 1, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    Like Jenna I fell in love with Florence to. Maybe because it was my first Italian city and we managed to not walk in and around that many people but instead explored the small streets outside the city center. For me though Paris was such a let down that I don’t have the need to travel back any time soon. But I do like to give it another go some other time 🙂

  10. Lance September 1, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    Florence is just so…blah. Great church. Nice museum. But not much else going for it. NOW, the surrounding countryside is wonderful and will have me going back again many times, but Florence, not so much. I’d go so far as to say it is probably the most over-rated city in all of Europe (IMHO).

  11. Adriana September 1, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    Hi there, I just finished reading your post and had to reply! I was in Florence last year for 4 nights,we spent two days in the city and went outside the city the other two days. Though I can’t say I was over the moon about it, I think for maybe two nights before heading into the countryside or Rome it’s worth the stop. Florence reminded me so much of SoHo in NYC, Again a couple nights is enough. If your used to amalfi or other places like that I can see how florence can be a bummer though, but you gotta love David! I’ll have to pursue through your site!

  12. Karen Warren September 2, 2014 at 5:00 am #

    I know what you mean about Florence – the crowds can be offputting! For me there were two solutions – travel out of season (still crowded but less so) and seek out the lesser known places and sights in the city. You get a completely different view if you walk down a back street on a wet weekday morning.

  13. Milosz Zak September 3, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    We travelled in May and had no problems whatsoever – there were very few people. When it comes to the locals, they were all nice and relaxed, you’re far more likely to run into problems in Milan.

  14. Alli September 3, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    Thank you for your honesty. I can completely appreciate where you’re coming from with this post, especially when you state “Now, when I travel, I travel to seek out the authentic. I travel to become immersed in unfamiliar cultures via language and cuisine.” I hear ya!!! As do I and for that reason I also was not a fan of both Florence AND Rome.

  15. Traveling Ted September 3, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    When I first read the words “I even hate Florence,” I thought at first you were talking about Florence Henderson, and I was appalled anyone could dislike Mrs. Brady who once coined the famous line “mom always said, don’t play ball in the house.” Then I read on and my fears were calmed that it was not directed towards TV’s favorite moms. I have no views on Florence. That is all.

  16. Dave Cole September 4, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    It really sounds like Florence has been over-touristed and needs to be left alone for a while! Do you know if it’s like that year-round, or are there times when the crowds die down a bit? Even if the winters are a bit slower, you always have to weigh the weather factor, as that may make the experience unforgettable on its own. At least you do have some nice family and visual memories associated with the city, and it’s not all negative.

    I have yet to make it to this part of Italy, but hope to do so in the next few years. I appreciate food much more than I did when I went as a teenager, so I’m excited to eat my way around the country – I’m sure there are still some nice spots in Florence.

  17. Tom Bartel September 4, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    Yes, Florence is touristy. And yes, Italy is full of men who think any unaccompanied woman is fair game. So are many other countries. But, you have to think of why Florence is touristy, and is it any worse than Barcelona or Paris or Prague? I don’t think so. Standing in line is the price you pay to see the Uffizi and its Giottos and Botticellis, San Marco and the Massacio frescoes, Fra Angelico’s Annunciation, the Medici tombs, Michelangelo’s prisoners, the Ghiberti Baptistry doors, Donatello’s Magdelen, and the Duomo itself. And that doesn’t even count Machiavelli or Dante. Pound for pound, without question, the greatest repository of art in the Western world. Sometimes you have to buck the crowds to see stuff like that. Take your time, ignore the other tourists and remember why you are there. You’re a tourist, too. Oh, and those of you who say Florence is “not authentic” or “overrated,” try explaining Western Civilization without Florence.

  18. Karl September 4, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

    Like Amsterdam on the weekend! Too bad it’s like that. I’ve never been before but have always heard the pros. Hopefully one day you can get an insiders look.

  19. Aggy September 5, 2014 at 2:31 am #

    I understand how you feel! I’ve been to Italy several times but I’ve not yet been to Florence. However, I experienced almost the same experience in Rome. I don’t *hate* Rome but the amount of tourists and crowded streets really made it “less Italian” and I just didn’t get that special connection with the city like with other cities in Italy that I visited! However there is always a good side that I would always cherish about Rome, the same way with you and Florence 🙂

  20. Laura September 5, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    Funnily enough, I’ve just been posting about my recent trip to Florence – and started off by saying how unimpressed I was the last time I visited! But this time, I admit that I loved it, despite the 40-degree heat. I found the Bardini Gardens were a nice little haven, and there were only a handful of other visitors there. Rome still holds the title of my favourite Italian city, though!
    Sometime Traveller

  21. Bailey K. September 5, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    I don’t mind being in a “touristy” destination. I love seeing people admiring a place! That being said, when I was in Florence, there were absolutely no lines and no crowds. Just a handful or two of people everywhere I went. I was there in April, right after Easter. I got to see and climb up the Duomo, see amazing historical places, eat great food, experience the culture, meet great people, and see the skyline of Florence at sunset (which, to this day, is still my favorite sunset I’ve ever witnessed). I’ve always said that things get touristy for a reason, and just because there are many people there doesn’t mean it isn’t authentic. I’m not afraid of the tourist spots. I am, however, afraid of the the food and restaurants right around the tourist spots!! 🙂

  22. Katie September 5, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    I think it can depend what time of year you go. My mom and I went over Thanksgiving and it wasn’t crowded at all. We even bought our online tickets for the Uffizi and got in early because there was no one else around. I don’t love Florence as much as I love Rome but I do enjoy it and I would easily go back again ( in the off season!)

  23. Chris Boothman September 5, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    I am sorry to hear your experiences in Florence were not particularly positive! I have never been to Italy so can’t comment but we are heading there in December and plan to spend Christmas there though after reading this we will likely not choose Florence as our chosen spot for Christmas celebrations!

    I know a lot of places around the world become tourist driven and that can remove away the authentic feel of a city, you know the traditions that makes you love the local stereotypes you hear before heading there. Hopefully if you venture back to Florence at some point in the future your experiences will be more positive!

    Kudos to you for sharing your honest opinion though because it’s tough to write about negative experiences sometimes.

  24. jennifer September 5, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    Hahah! I absolutely loved Florence but hated Rome. It’s a good thing the planet is so big, everyone can find some place to love.

  25. Stephanie Mayo September 5, 2014 at 5:32 pm #

    Ok, I’m not the only one! To be honest I’ve only been once and also stayed in a great guest house but was disappointed with the city. It was the foulest smelling city I’d visited and you’re right, it didn’t feel Italian. But that’s the beauty of travel and travellers there are so many places, somewhere for everyone and not everyone is going to like everywhere.

  26. Mindi September 5, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

    I first visited Florence ten years ago on a solo trip in late November and absolutely loved it. Fast forward to two years ago – I returned at the same time of year with my husband and was shocked by how much more touristed the city was. However, we still enjoyed ourselves and met some expats who took us to some great restaurants. I think you should give Florence one more chance.

  27. Mary {The World Is A Book} September 5, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

    I’m sorry you had a not so pleasant experience in Florence (twice!). It’s always sad to go someplace with high expectations and to be let down especially at the Motherland too. We’re stopping in Florence for a day on our way to Venice during Thanksgiving and mainly just to say hi to David 😉 I hope it’s not as crowded or touristy then. My disappointment has been Amsterdam. Maybe because we had bad weather and there were too many drunk and high college kids.

  28. Reginia Cordell September 6, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    I was in Florence over the summer. It’s an OK city but it didn’t have a WOW factor like everyone proclaimed.

  29. Will Tang September 6, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    Love this controversial piece. I think I read a few others mentioning the same about Venice and I have to agree, if I were to compare the two, Venice was so much more pretentious and touristy. For me, Florence was the most laid back of all cities we backpacked through Italy and it gave us a chance to just watch the sunset from the hill where one of the fake statues of David’s was. It was a nice change of pace if anything.

    But to each’s own right! Next time I’d love to visit more of the country side of Italy!

  30. Amy September 7, 2014 at 10:36 am #

    I didn’t hate Florence, but I definitely wasn’t wowed by it like everyone else seems to be. I feel like 90% of people who have been to Italy say Florence is their favorite city, and I just didn’t get it.There was just nothing that really impressed me in Florence aside from the Duomo (as you mentioned). I loved Rome and I loved Venice even more. I know a lot of people dislike Venice but I loved every second there. Florence, not so much. I’m taking my parents to Italy next summer and have been debating making a stop in Florence to give it another chance. We’ll see..

  31. Erin at The World Wanderer September 7, 2014 at 8:57 pm #

    I loved reading this and totally understand where you are coming from. The places with throngs of tourists drive me made! Not just the American ones, any tourists. I had the worst experience in Westminster Abbey. Everyone was just on their audio device listening, but not soaking up the beauty and history of the Abbey. It was gorgeous, which is why I didn’t get a device. What did I need to listen to when I could see the graves and memorials of literary greats, scientists, and royalty. I got run over constantly, mostly by Europeans. It’s not a race people!

    I’m glad you found some redeeming qualities to the city, and were able to celebrate your grandmother while you were there too. I do want to see the Duomo, but I think a day or two would do for me in Florence. I’ve definitely heard mixed things. Still, I’d rather head South to Puglia, where I was in May. Italian is heard everywhere, and the only obnoxious people are the Italians, which you come to expect, and which is often the best part of Italy. The walk slowly in the way of your car, almost run you over with theirs, and stare at you like they have every right to judge you and appear to be judging you, all while looking fabulous in heels walking effortlessly on cobblestone while chatting on their cell. Sigh. Someone take me back!

  32. Lance | Trips By Lance September 8, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    We went during crazy busy May and had no issues. This was in 2005 when I had tons of time on my hands and researched for months before our trip and discovered the need for reservations. So we had a plan for our three days there, had reservations for every museum and never waited in a single line. Also had amazing meals there.

  33. Gina - Our Global Adventure September 9, 2014 at 7:09 am #

    What a shame you did not enjoy Florence on both of your visits! We really loved it, and had the most fabulous experience, but maybe that was due to timing and the pensione we stayed in. Venice on the other hand… well I could read your post again and exchange Venice for Florence throughout and it would all be true! We love Italy though, and spent a month traveling North to South, I’d do it all again 🙂

  34. Kieu September 13, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

    Kudos to you for writing about a city you hate. I’ve had my fair share, Beijing, La Paz and Marseille to name a few and just like you, I’ve got my reasons too. I’ve actually been two Florence twice and my experience was good. First time was with schoolmates early spring when the crowd isn’t as bad and the second with Gerard in the heat of summer. I hate it in summer but we made the most of it. I’ll admit, I probably won’t be going back any time soon — I’m a Rome girl.

  35. Melissa October 28, 2014 at 8:22 am #

    I’ve never been to Italy, but I totally get what you’re saying. I have been to some places where the crowds just totally ruin the experience, and make me HATE the place/attraction/whatever.

  36. Ann July 8, 2015 at 8:46 am #

    We went during a slightly busy time, but it wasn’t the crowds that bothered me. I just felt really claustrophobic unless we were near the “river”. Which, I read Mark Twain wrote, “It is popular to admire the Arno. It is a great historical creek with four feet in the channel and some scows floating around. It would be a very plausible river if they would pump some water into it. They all call it a river, and they honestly think it is a river, do these dark and bloody Florentines. They even help out the delusion by building bridges over it. I do not see why they are too good to wade.”

    Anyway – when I talked to my German friends about going to Florence they asked why is it that Americans are so obsessed with that city when there’s other great places in Italy. So, even though I know I saw non-American and non-Italian tourists – makes me wonder. I’ll go back, though, if it ever comes up.

    • Francesca July 9, 2015 at 11:22 am #

      Interesting question posed by your German friends…. Maybe it’s because so many of those package-type trips to Italy that are marketed here in the U.S. focus on the big cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice. Thanks for sharing the Mark Twain quote! It was new to me.

  37. Rob W July 11, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

    My wife and I visited today for the first time. Arrived at 1pm left at 2.45pm. Full of yanks, no Italian voices, enormous queues which we were never going to join ( how sad would your life need to be to spend 2 hours queuing to get into the Duomo?). Just an awful place. Note to Amaricans, this us Itlay not America, respect their values don’t impose yours.

  38. Terry G July 23, 2015 at 5:30 am #

    Dang! I’m a bit apprehensive now… My family and I will be there in less than a week. Thanks for the heads up.

    • Francesca July 23, 2015 at 7:13 am #

      I’d never discourage anyone from visiting Florence, especially if it’s for the first time. But just be prepared for huge crowds and long lines, especially at this time of year.

      • Terry G July 23, 2015 at 7:44 am #

        It’s our first time in Florence, but not Italy. Plus, we usually buy the small group/private tours as it has helped in the past when dealing with long lines.

  39. Kaitlin October 20, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

    My first visit to Florence was while still in college (2010). I didn’t know much of anything about the city but I would be there for two months studying art restoration and photography. I was in complete awe of everything. My apartment was right outside the Duomo and the baptistry. Perfect location. I loved it all. It’s the little side streets away from the tourists that I fell in love with. I found the best wine shops, cafes, and restaurants down these low key paths. Fast forward five years and my husband and I are honeymooning on a Mediterranean cruise with a stop at Florence. We chose to explore on our own. No tours because I felt like I still knew my way around the city. I was right. But my memory had no recollection of the hoards and hoards and hoards of tourists! This was not the same Florence I lived in years before! It really broke my heart that we had to fight our way through the streets and every store we walked into we were greeted in English. Such a shame! But the city still holds a special place in my heart. I definitely liked it more than Venice. No lie. I was in awe of Venice and it’s canals at first. But it quickly wore off. Very touristy. It’s the little cities and villages off the beaten path that really make good memories.

  40. fadiyah February 9, 2016 at 6:19 am #

    I never visit Florence yet. but i listen about the beauty of this place and the awesome art. Hope sometime i could visit this place and back to your site to write about my experience there 😛

  41. Linda Lou March 12, 2016 at 2:00 pm #

    Next time visit Curacao!

  42. Rosemary March 21, 2016 at 5:37 pm #

    Florence is a true disappointment. As an Italian myself, this city is filthy. No where else in Italy does one have to pay for entering churches, but here you do. Even the Vatican in Rome is free, but nothing is free here. The question is, “What do these locals do with all the money tourists pay to enter these monuments?” The Duomo is so dirty on the outside that locals should be embarrassed and ashamed of absolutely no upkeep of this treasure. The city is also disgustingly dirty in many other ways…..dog poop everywhere, graffiti, cigarette butts, garbage……and not only in the city centre but also in residential areas. Of course, the locals blame the tourists for this. These locals are a very arrogant, ignorant, and uncivilized people with no manners whatsoever. They stick there nose up at everyone who is not Fiorentine and their biggest flaw they have is not being able to look you in the eye when you’re speaking to them because they are so dishonest. You never hear “Thank you!”, “Sorry”, “Excuse me!” from them. When walking, they block your path, step in front of you and bump into you with no apology. The things they sell, whether leather goods, shoes, boots, etc., are overpriced just for the tourists because locals don’t buy this stuff. And don’t be fooled when they say that these things are made in Italy because most are not. Tourists are not respected in this city and you are never greeted with smiles. They actually don’t like the fact that you are here. Locals have such a horrible attitude as though they have created these treasures but all they’ve done is destroy everything that surrounds them.

    There are many more beautiful places to visit rather than this city……Rome, Bologna, Assisi, Southern Italy……where you will always be greeted with a smile and where you will definitely see more beautiful things.

  43. David April 14, 2016 at 8:48 am #

    You really must be brain dead not to love and appreciate Florence. We live there in Centro, right in the heart of the tourist district. There is a reason millions of people come here every year – Florence is the springboard of Western culture. If you come in August there will be many tourists, just the same as in NYC, London, Paris, Venice and any other fabulous destination. If you like things more quiet, come in the spring or fall. Off the tourist path, there are hundreds of fabulous and cheap restaurants that serve fresh, homemade local dishes and welcome well behaved tourists. Whether on speaks Italian, English are Chinese, one rule to remember is that Florentines do not abide rudeness. I suspect that you abused that rule. I have seldom had a bad experience here with locals who, like Italians in general, are warm hospitable. Be nice and respectful when traveling and the world will be your oyster.

    • Francesca April 14, 2016 at 9:04 am #

      Thanks for your comment, David. I can assure you that I am, in fact, not brain dead. I understand why millions of people flock to Florence each year. It’s just not for me. Also, I was not there in August, as you suggested. My first visit was in October; the second, March. Here’s where I take offense to your words: I did not abuse any rule while in Florence, most certainly any rule regarding rudeness. You don’t know me, my family, or our travel style and history. The world IS my oyster because I am nice and respectful while traveling, and that’s what I’m teaching my children as we travel the world together.

      • Monika Andersson November 18, 2016 at 1:49 am #

        Don´t go there during peak season if you don´t like tourists. It´s not hard to figure out the place will be crowded at that point.
        I´m traveling there in three weeks time myself. November/December is a great time of the year to visit.

        • Francesca November 18, 2016 at 6:23 am #

          Again, I was there at times that aren’t considered peak season. I know better than that.

    • Rosemary May 25, 2016 at 10:49 pm #

      Obviously, David, you have not read the comments made about Florence very carefully because you know it is all true. It is the Fiorentines that are rude and not the tourists. You either do not speak nor understand Italian because if you did you would realize the disrespect they have for the people visiting their city and for the amount of money that is poured into this city which is not used to maintain its beauty and treasures whatsoever. Open your eyes and be honest about everything you see. I also was born here and left this place when I was very young and am embarrassed regarding their behaviour and attitude towards people that come to admire it’s beauty. Yes, many of the MASTERS come from this part of the country but don’t forget most locals could care less about what they have in front of them.

    • Lucy September 14, 2016 at 2:53 pm #

      I’m with Francesca and Rosemary… people who hated Firenze are not brain dead… in fact it may be the opposite… it’s people like myself who traveled a lot and still found that your city was very rude in general (of course, there were some exceptions) and even with a native italian speaker that’s super respectful we couldn’t find some much needed help for a lot of things, also… look around the web and you’ll find that there a lot of people feeling just like that having seeing carelessness treatment from employees, the complete disrespect some people have with tourists or even bogus traffic fines (in places where the ZTL signs are not present) are common occurrences there.
      Firenze may have been an extraordinary and beautiful place but from my heart I recommend everyone to save the troubles and just avoid it completely you’ll do yourself a favour if you just go to Milano, Torino or even Verona which are much nicer places….

  44. John May 9, 2016 at 9:53 am #

    Florence is extraordinary if you love old buildings as I do. Breathtaking views all over the place. Just go in the low season.

    • Randi December 31, 2017 at 5:07 pm #

      I’m sitting in Florence right now, 12 minutes to midnight on Dec. 31st. This is my third time but the other two were 24 & 27 years ago when I was iin my late teens and early 20’s. I had little knowledge of what was really there as far as art and the place Florence was centuries ago. I too, have traveled a lot and lived in India and England for several months each and also don’t like crowds or the “tourist trap” kind of places. Today, in this tourist trap, though, it was magical and the most wonderful day that I got to spend with my 22 year-old daughter going to the Uffizi, Galleria dell’Accademia, and off the beaten path. The city is bathed in beautiful (only a few tacky) holiday lights and really shone. Yes, the Duomo is still dirty, but everything else shone in my eyes that it didn’t get the best of me. As I get older, I try to only look at the good I see and not spend time on the negative. As others have said, this world is big and beautiful for us all to have our favorites. Find yours and enjoy. Happy New Year, everyone!

  45. grasya June 30, 2016 at 4:39 am #

    Florence still looked awesome.. but thanks for sharing your authentic experience, I’d just be curious and see what it looks like when I get to Italy

  46. Sam | Alternative Travelers January 22, 2017 at 2:04 pm #

    So glad to come across this blog! I’m glad I’m not alone. I really didn’t like Florence either and just wrote a long post about it and was wondering if anyone else felt the same way! I completely agree with everything you’re saying – Florence in no way felt authentic, and it wasn’t for a lack of trying on our part. We were housesitting in a local area, not even in the historic center and the area was just very bland. It was like either tourist center or nothing, and we wandered around for a week straight, and in December, so not the high season at all. Ack! You’re definitely not alone and screw rude commenters!!!

  47. Betty May 29, 2017 at 5:16 am #

    Perhaps people just have too high expectations and imagine something else in their heads. Sadly it is a touristy place and if you don’t like that then what is the point of going there then moaning – twice. I have visited Florence numerous times and picked the right times and places to avoid being stuck anywhere.
    The city is here since 14th century and it’s not easy to preserve the beauty and architecture especially in public places used every day by thousands. Can’t say the same about Rome. Every piazza has taxi ranks, cars driving past, it’s noisy dirty and people everywhere taking selfies but I don’t go on about it because people visit places for different reasons. I’m from Europe and believe me, American tourists are very annoying in Europe full stop and because they travel for miles to see something or it might be their first time out of their country, they expect something unreal. I have met a couple in their 70’s who have never left America, it was their first time in Europe. I mean how can that experience be compared to any other?

    Tout le monde à ses propres moyens…

    • Francesca May 29, 2017 at 10:42 am #

      Hi, Betty. Thanks for your comment.

      I agree, sometimes places don’t live up to our expectations. I think that was part of my issue with Florence. As I mentioned in the post, I was so excited for my first visit to Florence! It was the one place in Italy I couldn’t wait to visit. That first trip was disappointing but I decided to give it another chance – why not? So, yes, I have a right to “moan” about it, especially since I visited at times that aren’t considered high season. As for your statement about American tourists, yes, they can be annoying. So can tourists from ALL countries, probably even the one you’re from.

  48. MrsCassandra March 16, 2018 at 10:18 am #

    I am from Florence and I can only say thank you for your article. I’m not joking!!! I wish the citiy’s governors could read it too and make Florence livable again, especially for its people. When I was a little girl it was busy but not like this, it was still a city for the Florentines and not all about tourism and getting as many tourists as possible into the city and squeeze them to the detriment of the people who lived there for generations. You are right, it’s not authentic anymore. In fact, only one neighborhood of the city centre is still barely inhabited by Florentines.

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