Out of Season
by Susan Glasspool
Photos by Mac Immagine
Out of Season
Welcome to Florence "out of season". It may be cold, it may be wet (though it can be surprisingly mild and sunny), but you can always find plenty to do in this fascinating city at this time of the year.
View of the Cupola
There are an infinite number of wonderful museums in Florence and this is best time to visit them; with fewer queues and fewer crowds, you can get close to the art works and enjoy them at your leasure. This is the time to visit the Uffizi and the Academy Gallery but do try and go to the lesser known museums which contain some really unique treasures. The city is also a wealth of exhibitions and other events.
After the obligatory visit to the museums and monuments, Florence is the place to come to if you want to search for curios, fine crafts or antiques, for these are part and parcel of the city. Start discovering its secrets by exploring the back streets with their tiny craft workshops, often family businesses, that have always formed the backbone of Florence's economy. You will come across the ancient pharmacies and historic shops, that were once members of the great Guilds, financers of much of the wonderful architecture and art we can see in the city today. These workshops are a fascinating source for all kinds of gifts. Add the characteristic antique market, the colourful markets of S. Lorenzo or the Porcellino or other typical markets to your tour of the city, and your stay will seem only too short!
Wandering around without any particular aim in view can take you to those hidden corners of Florence where time seems to have come to a standstill. You almost expect to find Dante sitting on some street corner, Michelangelo chipping at a piece of marble, or Brunelleschi directing building operations on one of the monuments.
View of Ponte Vecchio
You may instead find yourselves in one of the smarter streets in the city, where you can admire the wares in the windows of some of the most fashionable and exclusive shops in the world and, why not, make the most of the January sales by picking up a bargain or two. Famous designer labels that originated in Florence and can now be found from New York to Tokyo. Pitti Immagine Uomo is also held at this time of year, one of the most important Italian fashion events. And, I can assure you, it's far more pleasant to go shopping at this time of the year than in the torrid heat of August.
There is plenty of choice for music lovers with opera and concerts at the Teatro Comunale, as well as in various other theatres and churches; Florence is blessed with a flourishing musical community and excellent orchestras to suit all tastes. Theatre enthusiasts can find a wide variety of programmes at the many theatres, especially at the historic Teatro della Pergola. Night clubs and piano bars abound and ...what can I say about the food? Try visiting Florence's restaurants (mentioned in gourmet magazines all over the world), taste their typical Tuscan cuisine and refined menus, accompanied by a bottle of superb Italian wine (naturally we advise a Tuscan vintage!).
If you have a car, then you can also explore some of the countryside outside Florence. The Chianti, the Arno valley and basin as far as the sea, Fiesole and the Mugello, the sites of ancient civilizations and the birthplaces of many famous "Florentines".
Florence can offer the best in history and art, shops and restaurants, landscapes and creativity, traditions and customs. In spite of being enveloped in centuries of history, it can also offer a treasure trove of new ideas and modern technology, as can be seen if you look it up in Internet. It is unique and is wonderful at any time of the year; however, you certainly won't regret trying it "out of season".