How to: understand Street Numbering in Florence

Via, Viale, Piazza… Reading and understanding Florentine streets is often a feared and overwhelming task for non-natives of Italy. However, I assure you, Italian street numbering can be conquered once you understand a few basic rules.

Piazza San Lorenzo (Credit: Gabriel Reyes)

A Viale is a two lane street and Via and Piazza are the Italian equivalents of street and square, respectively. It’s the reverse than in English: the specific name of the street or square follows, like for example Piazza Santa Maria Novella and Via Roma. There is a standard group of names for Vias and Piazzas that is used in almost every Italian city and town. For instance, take Piazza Unita or Piazza Duomo.

Via de’ Bardi (Credit: Gabriel Reyes )

The numbering of Italian streets often follows a specific pattern: odd numbers on one side of the road and even numbers on the other. If a large residence has been divided into multiple homes, there is usually one number for the entire residence.

Black or blue numbers are for residences (Credit: Gabriel Reyes)

If a large residential building or palazzo has been divided into smaller residences with separate entrances, letters will be used to distinguish the individual homes.

Like for example, 2N, 2M, 2L.

Addresses distinguish between a residential home and a commercial shop, office or business. A black or blue number is used for homes, while a red number indicates a shop, office or business. The physical numbers can be in the appropriate color or they can be distinguished by the suffix “R”which indicates a “RED” number.

Red numbers are for business (Credit: Gabriel Reyes)

You are now well equipped to take on the Florentine streets! Next time you see someone with a puzzled look and a map, maybe you can teach them a thing or two about Italian street numbering.

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