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Head over the Arno to experience a more authentically Italian Florence
Trend spotting: Oltrarno
Despite only being on the other side of the Arno, this hip, historic district often gets missed amid Florence's titanic list of must-sees -- which is great news for everyone who does make it there. It's not exactly off the beaten track but it does have a different feel to the rest of Florence. It was originally a working class neighborhood and you will find lots of artisan shops and local restaurants. For nightlife head to the San Niccolo neighborhood which is popular with local young folk; for sightseeing, the Pitti Palace is right on your doorstep.
What to wear
Dressing down is not in the Florentine vocabulary. As a first time visitor, it won't take long to notice that everyone in the city, from granny to the kids, flaunts the latest fashions proudly. So if you want to blend in, think high fashion -- which is lucky, because you're in the perfect place to buy it.
Stand up at the bar
Florentines tend to stand at the bar and this could account for the enormous markup on drinks if you sit down. Most bars and cafes offer two tariffs -- one for sitting and one for standing. Unless your feet are killing you, the extra euros that taking a seat will add to your cappuccino are simply not worth it.
Amici degli Uffizi card
If you are planning more than one trip to Florence in a year or have serious gallery-visiting plans then a "Friends of the Uffizi" card can get you into all the state galleries for a one-off charge, including the Uffizi and the home of Michelangelo's David, the Accademia. €25 for the under-26s, €60 for over-26s and €100 for a family card (www.amicidegliuffizi.com)
Museum bookings hotline
In peak season, it's worth the €3 booking charge to avoid hours of queuing for some of the most popular attractions like the Pitti Palace and the Uffizi. You will get a booking number and then you pay at the museum's ticket office. The number is valid for all the state museums plus the San Marco and the Bargello. (+39 055 294883)
View from Fiesole
For the hands-down best view of Florence's skyline catch the No. 7 bus from outside the railway station to Fiesole, a stunning little town about 20 minutes from Florence city center. Go for sunset and then have a drink or dinner in one of the many restaurants in the town. You can buy a bus ticket at any tabac.
Antiques and bric-a-brac
From 9am to 7pm on the second Sunday of every month, the Piazza Santo Spirito is transformed into a market square full of antique and second-hand stalls. An unmissable chance to pick up a real bargain.
What are your tips for a great stay in Florence? Where have you found the "real" Florence? Send us your suggestions in the "Sound Off" box below and we'll print the best.