Carrying Capacity of the Historic Centre of Florence


The continuous touristic visits to UNESCO World Heritage Site of Florence, over an extended period, has become detrimental to its integrity. The constant influx of tourists could have a negative impact on social, cultural, economic, and environmental levels. As such, it was deemed necessary to conduct research and learn how and when the limits are exceeded; meaning, the anthropic limits of the Heritage Site, beyond which its environmental, physical, economic, sociocultural, and the visitor experience qualities will be compromised.

The project aims to set a limit on the tourist-load in the Historical Centre of Florence. It will serve as a strategic tool for local administrators that have the authority to define guidelines and references for monitoring and controlling the thresholds, according to which sustainable tourist-management policies will be made.

In addition to defining the metrics of the carrying capacity of the Historical Centre of the city, the project seeks to map the existing resources/sites and trace access routes most used by tourist to visit the UNESCO zone of Florence and its interiors. A handful of sites will be selected to have their capacities measured. Then, through a pilot project, alternative routes will be suggested to reduce congestion.
In line with previous models used by UNESCO and other international best practices, a few initiatives will be started. These involve decongesting the historical zone of the city; which allows the redistribution of movement from areas densely populated by tourists to adjacent areas that are less congested. Furthermore, these initiatives aid in minimizing the influx of people over time.

With regards to projects involving the sustainability of the Historical Centre of Florence, particular attention will be given to the adoption of responsible tourism behaviours. That is to say, the tourist behaviours will be observed and analysed. The analysis will take place in collaboration with other relevant participants of UNESCO’s Observatory. A tourist information card will then be created. The card will act as a checklist that includes main standards specified by the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the Global Sustainable Tourist Council (GSTC), that will help verify ethical behaviour.


the City of Florence-UNESCO Office
Department of Economics and Business Sciences (DISEI) at University of Florence, Interuniversity Centre for Research on Tourism (University of Florence,University of Pisa, and University of Siena)
Heritage CityLab at Department of Architecture (DIDA), the University of Florence

Objectives of the project:

Identify the metrics of the carrying limit in the Historical Centre of Florence
Set a management strategy
Evaluate the actions aimed at the sustainability of the Historical Centre, by maintaining the balance between services offered and conservation of non-renewable resources- in order to prevent their deterioration.
Promote the awareness about the abovementioned actions amongst tour operators.
Devise specific intervening actions, as well as sharing a behaviour policy that would serve as reference model for the measurement of sustainability in art cities of UNESCO.
Evaluate the efficiency of the effectuated actions with regards to decongestion in the area and/or specific sites, through broad indicators, as well as specific ones.
Analyze the status of art in the mindset of tourists. Specific tests will be carried out on a pilot segment, to observe their efforts on proper behaviour towards conservation of the cultural identity that, tangibly or intangibly, represents the traditions of the Historical Centre of Florence.