Florence and Tuscany in your smartphone

Twelve great apps to explore our chosen land

Barbara Bueno, Alexandra Korey, Alexandra Korey
July 14, 2011

If you own a smartphone or tablet, chances are you travel with it and like using apps with city guides, maps, museum information and more. So, for the digital-savvy visitor or resident, here's our list of essential apps.  Although the Android-using authors of this article are sad to report that the majority of apps are available only on iPhone (see key for operating systems). Please check with your service provider about data costs in Italy, or sign up for a local data plan for your cell phone, available with a rechargeable SIM for as little as 3 euros per week.


Instant Florence

iPhone, iPad - paid


By seasoned travel writer Donald Strachan, this app doesn't cover everything in Florence, but it's a very well written guide to just about everything you'd want to see. Full of fun historical tidbits, the app also provides an easy-to-use menu that suggests the top 10 or 20 things to see, as well as free and family-oriented activities.


MM-City Florence

iPhone, iPad - paid - no data connection required



Spend less time getting lost with the fully downloadable maps, integrated GPS, and exhaustive information in this app by German publisher Michael Mueller Verlag that was awarded a 5 star rating by MacLife magazine. Easy to use on the iPhone, it's particularly beautiful on the iPad, where it makes full use of available screen space. Perfect for long term visitors or study abroad students who need a complete and detailed guide to the city. Lite version free, but worth upgrading to the full version with a 5.99$ in-app purchase.


Florence & Tuscany:DK Top 10

Android - paid - no data connection required


Love rankings? From the top 10 sights to the top 10 things to avoid, this app offers the advice you are looking for. You can create a list of your favorite places, share information by email, and use the offline map of the city center without being connected to the Internet.


Buon App' Firenze

iPhone, iPad - data connection required - free


Florence blogger Elena Farinelli (Ioamofirenze) is behind this brand new restaurant review app with photos, descriptions and tips for the best places to eat. Browse around by map, type or alphabetical order and never risk a dodgy dinner again.



iPhone, iPad - no data connection required - free


Only in Italian, but isn't that the language of the lampredotto lover? This free app, unquestionably a must-have for its coolness value alone, also helps you find the nearest sandwich made with bovine stomach. There is a handy history page, as well as recipes, and of course a map with photos and ratings of each handy lampredottaio. (See page 21 this issue for a trippa salad recipe.)


Uffizi (official)

iPhone, iPad - paid - no data connection required


The Uffizi in your hands: in one of the most important museums in the world, it's wise to go equipped with some extra information! Navigate the gallery by photo, list or map and call up basic information about 33 major works. You don't need to be in the Uffizi to love this app. Note that as it works without being connected to the Internet, it downloads 95 megabytes of information onto your phone.


Firenze in Tasca

iPhone, iPad - no data connection required - free


Produced by Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, this app provides up to date information on its exhibits-and more. Under the section ‘topics,' you'll find a list of thematic itinerary ideas based on previous exhibitions, allowing you to find locations in the city associated with Bronzino, fashion, the Impressionists and more.



iPhone, iPad - data connection required - Android - free


In TripAdvisor we trust! TripAdvisor is ranked the number one free travel app, and with good reason. Turn your data connection on and click ‘near me now' to discover the most reliable crowd-sourced reviews out there about restaurants (particularly useful), hotels, and things to do around your present location (though for this info, a guide is preferable). For easy access, you can also save your favorites.


Pronto Treno

iPhone, iPad - data connection required - free


Pronto Treno is Trenitalia's free official iPhone app. Check timetables, buy tickets and see if the train is (supposedly) on time. The voice recognition technology works well on the recently updated English version. Android users can download the unofficial app for ‘Orari Trenitalia' (available only in Italian); train schedule consultation is free, but to purchase tickets or see if a train is late, you'll need the paid version.



iPhone, iPad - data connection required - free


A virtual reality iPhone app that uses GPS to recognize your location and suggest points of interest in categories such as monuments, restaurants and hotels. Information about these points is drawn from public databases like Wikipedia and TripAdvisor.



data connection required - Android - free


An experimental app developed by researchers at CNR Pisa, its innovation lies in the treasure-hunt type itineraries that lead you around the city of Pisa (see TF 145). You have to photograph monuments to move ahead in the game. Unfortunately, the English version is rather Italianesque, and some other parts of the app have not been translated at all.


Island of Elba

iPhone, iPad - no data connection required - free


The great thing about this app is that it provides pictures of dozens of Elba's beaches, arranged on a map, to help you decide where to spread your towel next. Find restaurants, hotels, ferry timetables, weather forecast, events, maps and more. As the app works offline, download its heavy 20 megabytes while connected to your home wi-fi.


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