Heading to Florence but not sure what to expect? This final instalment of ‘First timers guide to Florence’ covers everything from basic Italian to staying safe in the city. Read on for some awesome tips on how to make the most of your holiday.
One thing I regret before travelling to Florence was not learning Italian. Whilst the majority of the population of Italy speak English, knowing some basic Italian is such a great help when communicating with locals. Not only does it help you understand directions, instructions and recommendations but the locals really appreciate you going out of your way to learn their language.
Here are some handy words you may want to know for your trip to Italy (trust me, it makes things SO much easier).
Yes – Si
No – No
Hello/Goodbye (informal) – Ciao
Hello (formal) – Buongiorno
Goodbye (formal) – Arrivederci
Please – Per favore
Thank you – Grazie
Prego – You’re welcome; after you
Excuse me – Mi scusi
I’m sorry – Mi dispiace
I don’t speak Italian – Non parlo italiano
Do you speak English? – Parla inglese?
Where is the bathroom – Dov’e la toilette?
Aiuto! – Help!
Picking up and Italian phrasebook will also come in handy when communicating during your travels.
Whilst Florence isn’t exactly a dangerous city, exercising caution is recommended. As for most tourist areas, pick-pocketing does happen, most commonly around the top site seeing locations like the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio. I recommend this tips to ensure your belongings don’t get stolen.
- Do not carry anything in your back pocket. This should be common travel sense, but I often see people making this mistake. Putting your phone or wallet in your back pocket is a big no-no. You’re basically asking for your belongings to get taken
- Don’t carry large amounts of cash. This one is a no-brainer. When you’re out exploring, only take enough cash for the day. Carrying large amounts is cash is dangerous and means if the rare occasion of being mugged does happen, you’ll lose the lot.
- Choose clothing with deep pockets. If you do happen to carry your wallet or phone in your pocket, make sure the pockets are deep enough so the item is not seen. If someone does spot your phone in the pocket of your coat, it makes it very easy for them to reach in and grab it.
Gypsies and beggars
It is quite common see gypsies and people begging on the streets of Florence, however these people are not dangerous as long as you exercise caution. Gypsies are easy to spot with their colourful clothing and scarves. Often they will paint their faces, making them stand out from the crowd. Whilst gypsies mainly beg on the streets, the odd few will engage in pickpocketing, especially in crowded places like train stations. But don’t worry, this is quite rare.
Take extra caution when using ATMs or buying tickets at the train station, like you would in any country. Like I mentioned previously, Florence is not dangerous, however being cautious is a great habit to get into when travelling.
On the rare occasion that you are approached by someone on the street simply tell them ‘no’. If they continue to hassle you, yelling ‘Polizia!’ as loud as you can is usually enough to make them back off.
Phone apps you NEED for Italy
Florence is small enough to tackle by foot, but if you’re planning to visit other towns nearby, public transport is your best option. If you haven’t heard of rome2rio, I am about to change your life (well not really, but I will make travelling around Europe a lot easier).
Rome2rio is a website and mobile app that shows you all possible public transport choices to get you from A to B. Firstly you select your current location and your intended destination. The site then gives you every possible public transport option as well as the travel time, approximate cost and route. The site can also be used to find accommodation, hire cars and tourist attractions.
If you intend to travel by train, this is an app you need. ProntoTreno gives you up to date train timetables and allows you to book tickets on your phone. You can use the app to check the status of your trip as well as any delays in your arrival time. Plus, the app is entirely in English so there’s no need to worry about translations!
Speaking of translations, this is an app that will definitely make your trip easier. Google translate has an app that allows offline translation of any language. Even better, by activating the camera feature on the app, you can simply hold your phone over anything that is written in another language and have it translate right in front of your eyes!
I hope these handy tips help you on your adventure to Florence. If you have any handy tips for travelling to Italy, let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear your advice.
Until next time,