This week HomeExchange takes you to Tuscany, and specifically to Florence, one of the most beautiful Italian cities. Many tourists come to visit Florence every year from all over the world, so how can you experience this city like a true Florentine?

Live like a local in Italy with HomeExchange

We contacted one of our members from Florence to hear about his experience with home exchange and his advice for guests.

The Bridges of Florence

Lapo and His City, Florence

“I was born and raised in Florence. In fact my name, Lapo, is a very fiorentinissimo name, taken from Dante’s Divine Comedy. At one point in time it could only be found in Florence.”

Lapo and his family had been longtime members of HomeExchange when another member, Patrick, contacted them to arrange a reciprocal exchange.

“About Florence, what can I say? It is a crowded city, rich in historical and architectural beauty. I’ve seen my city change over the years: before you could find artisinal markets throughout the city center, but with the passing years they have vanished. However, there are still authentic places to be found, away from the Uffizi Museum, Piazza del Duomo, and Piazza della Signoria.

The place I am most attached to in Florence is the Santo Spirito neighborhood. This neighborhood is found on the opposite bank of the Arno from the historical city center in the formerly poor part of the city. Here you can see the beautiful Santo Spirito church designed by Brunelleschi and emplore a number of bodegas.”

Santo Spirito Church, Florence

Does home exchange worry you?

“Your home is something intimate, and we too had some doubts about home exchange. In our case, it was helpful that it was the first exchange for both of us. When we started to communicate, the initial mistrust disappeared and we realized that they were a family just like ours, but from another country. Their concerns were the same as ours, and they were going to take care of our home as they would their own.

So we cleaned the house, prepared the beds and linens, and left a bottle of wine and chocolates. The funny thing was that when we arrived at Patrick’s home in London we found the same chocolates! My son even exchanged some postcards with one of Patrick’s daughters who is the same age. We are still in contact with Patrick and his family, and recently exchanged Christmas wishes.”

Recommendations from a Florentine to His Guest

“I told Patrick about all the essential sites close to our house and gave them some suggestions of things to do. I suggested they visit the Santo Spirito neighborhood and the Boboli Gardens, and to walk or bike to the center of Florence or to Fiesole. Fiesole is located on top of a hill ouside of Florence from where you can admire the city from afar… All of Florence is at your feet! Finally, because I am a runner, I suggested he run along the Arno following the river for 20km as it passes through the city.

As for restaurants, I suggested a pizzeria, Gusta Pizza, from which you can watch the Piazza Santo Stefano, and The Casalinga in the Santo Spirito neighborhood, a cheap and popular trattoria. I also advised him to try a Lampredotto Panini, a specialty sandwich of tripe and strong sauces sold by many street vendors.
For covered market lovers, Florence offers the Sant Ambrogio market, which is small but full of personality!”

Boboli Gardens, Florence!

The Funny Tradition of the Florence Cart Explosion

Santa Maria del Fiore, Baptistery and Belltower

Patrick and his family came to Florence for Easter, in the part of the year when there is an odd event, The Cart Explosion. This historical demonstration loved especially by children involves big white oxen pulling a cart in front of the duomo. The cart is then connected to the dome’s altar by a steel cable. From the cart there is a kind of firework in the shape of a dove that flies to the altar and comes back to the cart to set it on fire and launch some small fireworks. The dove is a symbolic representation of spring.”

In Florence, Lapo and many other members of HomeExchange are ready to welcome you for an authentic experience in a reciprocal or non-reciprocal exchange… What are you waiting for?

Join now!