The city of Florence finally released the long awaited Firenze Card that allows access to the 33 most important museums, chapels and art galleries in the city. It also provides free passage on the city's public transit system. Priced at 50 Euro, the Florence card may be purchased online and picked up at one of five collection points in the city.
While the card is a great deal for passionate lovers of art, it may not be ideal for everyone. The moment you swipe your Florence Card at the first museum turnstile the countdown begins. The Florence Cards will expire in 72 hours and the chase is on. Remember, most museums in Florence are closed on Mondays and some are closed Sundays as well. There must be some connection between Italian museums, barber shops and this Monday closing thing that eludes me.
The Firenze Card site is easy to navigate and you will discover that the card also allows access to special exhibitions and events. In some cases you may even be able to bypass lines. A silly benefit that comes with the Florence Card is free admission, when accompanied by a valid cardholder, to a European Citizen aged 18 or under — maybe it's an inducement for adoption?
The greatest benefit will go to those who can carefully plot their entire course and slide into the last museum two minutes before the card gives up the ghost. It's kind of like fasting for days before attending the all you can eat buffet. Unfortunately, museums are not open 24 hours a day, that would be fun. If on average, museums are open nine hours a day, what you are buying is roughly 36 hours. Factor in meals, rest breaks and transit time from one to the other and the most intrepid adventurers might get to briefly visit half the places listed — that's a great deal. Then again, you can always buy another card.
Il Pallaio in Florence offers simple Gluten Free Italian meals and pizzas
Not a week goes by that a Parker Villas guest seeks our assistance with specific dietary requirements while vacationing in Italy. This week's focus is on enjoying Italy on a Gluten Free diet. The first and easiest thing to do is copy and paste the following message on a card and show it to the waiter if you are not sure what they serve:
Sono affetto da CELIACHIA (intolleranza al glutine). Devo fare una dieta assolutamente priva di glutine. Qualsiasi cibo contenente farina di grano, orzo segale e avena puo causarmi gravi malori. Se non e sicuro, la prego di dirmelo. Posso mangiare cibi contenenti di carne, pesce, granturco, riso, patate, verdura, frutta, uova, formaggio e latte purche non siano preparate con aggiunta di farina, pane grattugiato, o salsa legata con farina o pastella fatta con farina.
The above message reads: Dear Restaurateur, I am affected by Celiac disease (gluten intolerance). My diet must be completely free of gluten. Any food containing wheat flour, barley rye and oats can cause me serious illness. If you are not sure, please tell me. I can eat foods containing meat, fish, corn, rice, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, eggs, cheese and milk as long as they are not prepared with the addition of flour, breadcrumbs or sauce linked to flour or batter made with flour. Thank you
The second thing to do is to visit Italy's comprehensive guide to gluten free restaurants nationwide. The site is in Italian but here are the essentials:
1. Click the region you will be visiting on the left hand side of the home page. (for Rome click Lazio, for Florence click Tuscany)
2. The next page is sorted by provinces within that region. Scroll down to the cities of your choice. Next to city names are code letters: H for hotel, R for restaurant, P for pizzeria, Tr for trattoria. Next to the code is the name of the establishment. Click on each establishment name for addresses, web sites and even maps in some cases.
Hurry! Florence has launched a series of guided fashion tours that take visitors behind the scenes of the city’s fashion industry. Each tour lasts about three hours and is absolutely free. Visitors will be guided through shops, artist studios and museums featuring everything fashionable from wedding dress design to shoes to jewelry and contemporary clothing for men, women and children. This experiment in promoting a brand new type of tourism began on January 18, 2010 and ends on June 21, 2010. Each tour is limited to a maximum of 20 persons and while tickets are free, reservations must be made.
The site provides phone, fax and email address to make your reservations. The sponsoring organization is Florence Art & Fashion. Once on their site, click on Fashion Itineraries and select Calendar to see what’s going on during your stay. Hurry, as word spreads these tours will fill up quickly.