I love Florence. It in some ways reminds me of Paris in as much as history is all around you and you cannot help but feel connected to it. The people here, as in Paris, enjoy life with outdoor cafes and late night eating. Social life is very important here. I found it impossible to enjoy any of the outdoor cafes in Paris because of the heavy smoking. People smoke here but it is rare to be completely surrounded by them in the outdoor seating areas and I am very much enjoying sidewalk dining here. Florence is smaller and more accessible than Paris and the residents are more friendly. (Not to disparage Paris which is wonderful!!)
My little apartment and the view from my window
People here walk and bike. They shop at the local markets. I suspect that Amazon has not damaged the local retail business much! You hear church bells often. People recycle everything and deposit the materials into repositories throughout the city. (It is so efficient!)
Eating out in Florence is a social event. No one is rushed. Dinner is expected to take hours and includes appetizers, wine and desert. You must ask for the check, and never feel rushed to make room for the next guest. I’m sure this is why a reservation is necessary in most places unless they are catering to the tourists who are in a rush and want to eat and go. There are many places to eat and the food is excellent. Many of the restaurants have large cuts of meat hanging in the windows. These places sell steak by weight and they are huge! I am told the steak is amazing but I have not found a small army of people to share one with yet!
The local farmers market is huge and a treat for the eyes! Stalls with fruits and vegetables, a vast selection of fresh cheeses, meats, eggs, honey, fish, baked goods. The vendor bags the food for you, no touching the merchandise. It is so easy to shop at the many small little shops that you encounter as you walk around town doing your business. It easy to stop and buy fresh bread, meat and cheese every day, always fresh and delicious.
When you go into a bar (coffee shop) you order your caffè and pastry or little sandwich and stand at the counter to consume. You are not expected to pay until you have finished and are ready to leave. In many places if you sit at a table the price goes up. For instance a cappucino at the counter may cost 1.5 euro but if you sit at a table it might cost 6 euro.
None of this adequately explains why I love Florence. It is hot, humid and crowded. It is full of tourists and it is noisy. At night, with the windows open street noise and mosquitoes come in and you can’t sleep, with the windows closed it is hot and you can’t sleep. It is magnificent; I am besotted!