Florence and Surroundings
Florence, located in central Italy, is the capital of the region of Tuscany. It is no doubt one of the most beautiful cities in the world and contains a wealth of historic treasures of all kinds and tons of cultural heritage.
Founded in the first century BC and developed as the cultural center of Italy under the rule of the Medici family, Florence has been the home of authors and artists like Dante Alighieri, Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Machiavelli, and Galileo Galilei. Here they accomplished most of their artistic masterpieces and/or discoveries.
Tuscany’s food, simple and delicious, along with its wines are ranked among the best in the world. Florence is well known for its Bistecca Fiorentina (Florentine Beefsteak).
Florence enjoys four distinct weather seasons equally divided across the year. In Spring temperatures range from 6°C to 24°C, in Autumn from 11°C to 27°C, in Summer from 17°C to 31°C or even hotter, and in Winter from 11°C to 27°C.
12 Places to Visit in Florence
1) Uffizi Gallery
The Uffizi Gallery is Florence’s most popular museum. It is also one of the most visited in Italy and one of the largest and best known in the world. It holds a collection of priceless works, particularly from the period of the Italian Renaissance. It’s also the place to see Botticelli‘s beautiful paintings of the “Birth of Venus” and “Primavera”.
2) Academy (Accademia) Gallery
The Academy Gallery is best known as the home of Michelangelo‘s sculpture of David (perhaps the world’s most famous statue) which was unveiled in 1504. This small and very navigable museum also has other unfinished sculptures by Michelangelo and a large collection of paintings by various Florentine artists. The museum also holds an exhibit of classical musical instruments.
3) Piazza della Signoria/ Palazzo Vecchio
Piazza della Signoria is an L-shaped square in front of the impressive 14th century Palazzo Vecchio. The square has plenty of statues including those found in the gallery of the Loggia dei Lanzi, the equestrian statue of Cosimo I, and the very majestic Fountain of Neptune. In front of Palazzo Vecchio a replica of Michelangelo’s “David” stands at the entrance indicating his original position until 1873.
4) Florence Cathedral (Duomo) and Baptistery
The Florence Cathedral and Baptistery are located in Piazza del Duomo in the heart of the historic city center. It is one of the most visited areas of the city and also contains Giotto‘s Campanile (Bell Tower), the Loggia del Bigallo and the Opera del Duomo Museum. The view from Brunelleschi’s Duomo (Dome) offers a sweeping panorama over the city’s terracotta rooftops and beautiful Tuscan hills.
5) Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo is a square, dedicated to the Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo. It is one of the few places where one can see a stunning panoramic view of Florence – for free. Giardino Delle Rose is a garden park just below the Piazzale Michelangelo and it also offers a commanding view of Florence. Both are located in the Oltrarno district of the city and are considered relatively quiet places as compared to the rest of the city.
6) Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) is not only a medieval bridge, it’s also the city’s oldest and most unique. It is made of stone and crosses the Arno river. Butchers formerly lined the bridge but the present tenants sell jewelry, art, and souvenirs. In the middle of the bridge, one can find a portrait bust of the Florentine goldsmith, sculptor, and painter Benvenuto Cellini who lived during the Renaissance period.
7) Pitti Palace
The Palazzo Pitti is a vast, mainly Renaissance, palace situated on the south side of the Arno river. The original building dates from 1458 but it was bought by the Medici family in 1549. It remained the principal Medici residence until 1737 and then passed to the Austrian House of Lorraine, and even Napoleon, who used the palazzo during his period of control over Italy. The Pitti Palace houses five museums.
8) Santa Croce + Calcio Storico (Historic Soccer Game)
Piazza Santa Croce is one of the main squares in Florence. It is located near piazza della Signoria and takes its name from the Basilica, built in 1295, which overlooks the square. The Basilica is the burial place of some of Italy’s most illustrious Italians, such as Machiavelli, Galileo Galilei, and Michelangelo. There is also an empty tomb built for Dante in 1829; however, Dante’s remains are still in Ravenna where he died during exile.
“Calcio Storico” Fiorentino is a combination of soccer, rugby and wrestling which originated in the 16th century. In modern times, the final match is still played on June 24 (Florence’s patron saint feast day) in historical costume on piazza Santa Croce. Four teams representing historical neighborhoods of the city play against each other. The four teams are: Santa Croce, Santo Spirito, Santa Maria Novella, and San Giovanni.
9) Palazzo Medici Riccardi
The Palazzo Medici Riccardi is a Renaissance palace near the Duomo (on the same street of our school!). It first belonged to the Medici family and was later acquired by the Riccardi family in 1659. The palace was built for Cosimo de’ Medici, who was head of the Medici banking family, between 1444 and 1484. The most important section of the palace is undoubtedly the Magi Chapel, which was completed in 1459, by Benozzo Gozzoli. The frescoes here are not to be missed!
10) The Bargello (Art Museum)
The Bargello Art Museum is located in the Palazzo del Bargello. A former fortress and prison, its construction began in 1255 to house a military captain. In 1574, it became Florence’s police headquarters and remained so until 1859. The well-preserved building contains a beautiful, open courtyard, where executions once took place. Today it houses artworks by Michelangelo and, most notably, Donatello’s sensual bronze statue of David (1430).
11) Santa Maria Novella Basilica
Santa Maria Novella is situated in the Piazza Santa Maria Novella just opposite the city’s main railway station. It is noted as the first great basilica in Florence. The style of the Renaissance was introduced into Santa Maria Novella with Masaccio’s celebrated fresco of the Trinity with the Madonna, St. John the Evangelist, and two patrons (1427). Construction began on its Gothic cloister around 1340.
12) Mercato Centrale
The new Mercato Centrale made its debut in Florence in the spring of 2014 to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the iron and glass building erected there in 1874. Inside, on the ground floor, the open market sells meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables. On the first floor, there is a food court with restaurants and places to drink beer, coffee and eat an ice cream. Just outside is the Mercato di San Lorenzo which mostly sells leather goods.
Our Cultural Activities
The following free time activities are included in the price of each one-week and two-week course in Florence:
- two guided tours of the city
- one full-day excursion (usually on Saturday, till 20:00)
Our Guided Tour of Florence City Center
Led by a Europass teacher, the walking tour introduces you to Florence’s rich history, culture, and cuisine. Admire architectural gems including the Duomo and Baptistery, plus open-air sculpture galleries at Orsanmichele and Piazza della Signoria. Stroll past the bancarelle at the Mercato Centrale for a chance to peruse fresh Tuscan produce, leather bags and accessories, wooden Pinocchio dolls, and other local goods. Pass by the Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi Galleries while listening to stories of Florence’s Renaissance art, politics, and humanist philosophy. See if you can spot any of the city’s 1,200 street shrines dedicated to the Virgin Mary or patron saints of the medieval guilds. And last but not least, enjoy a glass of wine or a cup of gelato from an authentic Florentine enoteca or gelateria.
Our Full-Day Excursion
After five days of lessons, it is time for the weekend and time to relax. For you and your colleagues who met at Europass, we offer trips to some of the most beautiful surrounding areas. Do not miss the opportunity to participate in these all-inclusive tours, with professional guides, tickets, and transportation included in the price of the course!
Participants can choose among any of the following excursions (the excursion is usually held on a Saturday, on the first Saturday for 2-week courses):
San Gimignano, Siena and Chianti
Explore the medieval town of San Gimignano, known for its towers and stunning views of the countryside. Then taste local wines and enjoy a typical Tuscan lunch at a Chianti winery, before more sightseeing in Siena, with its Cathedral and Piazza del Campo. Finally, stop by the impressive fortress of Monteriggioni.
Chianti Afternoon Tour
With this visit to a charming estate in Chianti, learn about the winemaking process and taste red and white wines paired with cured meats and bruschetta. At the oil mill, sample olive oils made from some of Tuscany’s 120 olive varieties. Finally, visit the hamlet of Castellina in Chianti with its castle and panoramic view of surrounding vineyards.
Pisa Morning Tour
Join your guide on a tour of the Piazza dei Miracoli – with visits inside the Cathedral, Baptistery, and Monumental Cemetery, and photo ops outside the famous Leaning Tower. Discover Pisa’s history as a Roman naval base and center for Mediterranean trade, to its current prestige as home to one of Europe’s most acclaimed higher education institutions.
About the Training Centre in Florence
The Training Centers in Florence don’t represent only the most chosen location for our courses, but also our administrative headquarters.
We started our journey here as an Italian language school in 1992 (some course participants still combine a week of teacher training with a week of Italian lessons).
The school is located in two historical buildings, a few steps away from many bars and restaurants and within easy walking distance to all of the city’s main attractions.
- Palazzo Galletti, was built between 1831 and 1833 in neoclassical style and designed by the architect Vittorio Bellini for Vincenzo Batelli, a typographer.
- Palazzo Venerosi Pesciolini, originally built by one of the richest and most powerful families in Europe between the 13th and 14th centuries.
Please note: our training centers in Florence are on the second floor of historic buildings that don’t have an elevator.
How to Reach Us
Florence airport is relatively small, most international flights arrive at Pisa-San Giusto Airport (PSA). Florence city center and Pisa’s airport are well connected by train and by bus.
Florence is located at the center of the Italian national railway network. Florence’s main station (Santa Maria Novella) is 20 minutes walking distance from our academy.
Florence is also well connected to the other major Italian cities by two highways: the Milano-Napoli and the Firenze-Pisa.
-> Discover further information on how to reach Florence city center.
We are located in the historic city center of Florence in: