Contributed by: Maurice T. Appelbaum| Last Date of Travel: August 2006
Kosher Info: Kosher restaurant and a kosher store right by the shul. The restaurant was really good, especially the desserts. The store was sparsely stocked. The woman in the restaurant speaks English and was helpful with food questions. Look at the Milan post for all of the links and information provided there.
Tourist Info: Florence is a really nice place to visit because it is small and easily walkable, but is filled with a lot of great atractions. We didn’t go into any churches so we only spent about two days there. Even though we didn’t go in, it was still worth it to see the outside of the Duomo which is the huge church in the center of town (you can’t avoid it). In the courtyard there is a smaller building with gold doors – it was fun to try and figure out the biblical scenes etched in the doors.
For some interesting shopping – combined with a local flavor, go to the bridge called Ponte Vecchio (expensive), Mercato Nuovo, and San Lorenzo (the best one). We bought many gifts in San Lorenzo – its basically one long shuk with lots of scarves, leather goods, mixed in with touristy stuff. You can easily bargain here.
There are two important museums in Florence – the Uffizi and the Galleria de Acadameia. Uffizi had a huge line and we couldn’t get in. You should go early in the morning and reserve tickets for the next day. The Academia has the “David” and not much else. There was a long line to get in to the Academeia but we did a “FastPass” for more money and got at a designated time later that day. The David was worth it, but that’s all that is in there. People try to sell things outside of both museums, so at least the line will be entertaining.
We also went to the Bobeli Gardens, crossing over the Ponte Vecchio. There was a fashion museum at the time and the Gardens were nice, but we’ve seen nicer. There is more than one train station in Florence – be aware when making transfers – the stations are not close to one another!
Jewish Info: The shul on Via Farini is big and beautiful. There is a Chabad house Via dei Banchi 6. The hospitality center is on Via dei Pilastri 9R. We didn’t find any minyanim, but we think there is on Shabbos or during the school year. Call in advance.