Rebirth of a City
Global Traveler|January/February 2021
Florence forges a creative path to recovery and sustainability.
DEBRA BOKUR AND PATRICIA VANIKIOTIS
The Tuscan capital, Florence, sits amid the second-largest wine-producing region in Italy, surrounded by vineyards brimming with heritage vines and world-caliber grapes. Pausing beneath the tawny evening sky — a glass of Chianti within reach — while listening to the river lap against the walls that hold it in place as it flows beneath the Ponte Vecchio is a singularly seductive experience.

Though wine-based tourism is significant, more than vino keeps Florence afloat. Prior to last year, more than 12 million visitors each year entered the city to drink in the staggered lines of terra-cotta roofs and elegant steeples and to immerse themselves in art, culinary offerings, history and culture. The city also enjoys a reputation as a popular location for destination weddings.

Expanding train service offers a route between the city and Florence Toscana Airport, and further infrastructure development includes a new terminal and runway — all changes that will increase the city’s overall attraction for foreign investment in MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions).

Yet concerns have been growing for years that the city is being loved to death — at the very least to the detriment of its citizens. Efforts have been made over the past several years to address the overcrowding and to prevent the historic city center from becoming too expensive and unlivable for Firenze’s residents. Several streets were closed off to cars and buses, reducing the amount of noise and air pollution. The municipality publishes a list of tour operators and guides committed to decentralizing the flow of visitors, diversifying the tourist experience and protecting the work and the lifestyle of its citizens.

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