Photo: Dennis van de Water/Shutterstock

Green Guide to Florence

Florence National Parks
by Kelly Lalonde Jan 25, 2008
Over a million tourists from the US alone come and see this magical city each year. One of the most important things you can do when traveling is to tread lightly, and with so many of Italy’s priceless treasures succumbing to the ills of aging and pollution, it’s becoming ever more pressing that travelers go green. In addition to getting you to and around Florence, the following guide provides some of the best–and greenest–options for accomodations, tours, and restaurants.

Practical Information

Local airports are Amerigo Vespucci (domestic flights only) three miles northwest of the city center, and Galileo Galilei, 47 miles west of the city, near Pisa. Florence is a major railway and bus hub, so wherever you fly to, be it Milan, Rome or Pisa you will have to take public transportation to Florence.

Once you arrive, the city is remarkably easy to navigate. To walk end to end only takes 35 minutes, including stops for occasional espressos. Traffic is also restricted in the city center.

Art and Culture

In Florence, all roads lead to the Great Cathedral del Santa Maria Fiore, the religious and architectural heart of the city, so grab a free map in the bus or train station and start walking, and in about 15 minutes you will come to a grand piazza, dominated by the pink, white, and green cathedral.

You will also notice that there are other sights in or right behind the cathedral. The octagonal Baptistery of St. John , The Bell Tower (campanile), and the Cathedral Museum.

The two art galleries you must visit are the Galleria Academia and the Uffizi Gallery. The Uffizi houses the largest collection of Florentine art in the world and the Galleria, Michaelangelo’s David. Both are large tourist draws. It is advisable to book visits in advance.

Also not to be missed is the Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s oldest bridge, and the only one that wasn’t destroyed by the Germans in WWII. The largest green space in Florenece, the Boboli Gardens, is a great place to relax and people watch, as well as get some shade from the Mediterranean Sun.

Green Eats

The San Lorenzo Market is the biggest market in the city shop for local produce, meats and cheeses in the large, covered Marcato Centrale. You can also find handmade leather goods, paper products and more in the street stalls.

If you’re looking for a sit down place, local restaurants like Da il Latini offer a true Tuscan dining experience. Stay away from the run of the mill tourist places immediately near the Cathedral. Your best bet is to ask a local. If this is too scary, wander down a street that isn’t streaming with tourists, spot a menu and sit down.

Eco friendly Hotels: You’ll have to go outside of Florence to get the
total eco-friendly experience… Check out Arcobaleno ( Italian for rainbow)

Or, for the authentic experience, why not try an agritourismo holiday, living and participating on a working farm? Visit for more details.

There are also a number of travel companies offering eco-friendly tours of Tuscany, so if you’re not a do-it-yourself type of person, these would be great for you:

Eco Touring Tuscany

The Good Travel Company,
and Context both practice responsible tourism.

Unless you live in Italy, you’re probably going to have to fly there. Don’t forget to calculate and offset you carbon emissions by going to websites like

One of Matador’s newest contributors, Kelly Lalonde writes: “I get bored with normalcy, love pasta, love watching the city come alive on a long walk in the morning.”

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