Florida (pronounced floh-REE-dah) is the capital of Florida Department in the Central Interior of Uruguay. Surrounded by farmland, Florida is a fairly quiet city of 30,000 people—in contrast to nearby Montevideo, it has a small-town feel. Despite its small size relative to Montevideo, Florida has a couple of impressive attractions, including a beautiful cathedral and the site of Uruguay’s 1825 Declaration of Independence. Located less than two hours from Montevideo by bus, it’s very doable as a day trip if you don’t want to spend the night.
Uruguay’s independence was proclaimed on Florida’s Piedra Alta and signed in a building located in the current center of the city in front of the Plaza Independencia.
The Italian saint San Cono is important to the inhabitants of Florida. He is a saint who was introduced to the country by Italian immigrants in a two-year long process which started in 1882, when the Italian community that was populating the city gave Mr. Blás Aloy the task of traveling to Teggiano, Italy (the city in which the saint was born) in order to acquire a replica of San Cono. The astonishing wooden replica of the Saint was then placed in a humble chapel that the community started to build in 1883.
The saint is a protector against plagues, wars and earthquakes, and he was not truly accepted by Florida’s existing inhabitants. However, the rejection of the saint was suppressed when, in 1888, an earthquake took place in the region and caused the inhabitants to panic since earthquakes are not a frequent event in the area. This episode was taken by the people as a punishment inflicted by the saint as a consequence of the rejection he suffered by the non-believers. Since that event, the saint’s popularity saw an exponential increase even though the local church authorities refused to accept him at the beginning.
Buses from Montevideo, Durazno, and other cities are available several times a day. As of 2017, buses from Montevideo are a little over U$200 each way. The Florida bus terminal is centrally located, about a block from the cathedral and the central plaza, Plaza Asamblea.
Walk, drive, or ride a motorbike – local bus service is very limited. The roads are in very good condition, at least in the main part of the city.