This is not the first time I’ve visited Florence. I actually spent a day here a few weeks ago with my Top Deck tour group. Before I left home, I knew I wouldn’t be able to see everything Florence had to offer in one day. This was one of the reasons why I decided to return to this amazing city a few weeks after.
Florence is located within the Italian region of Tuscany. Meaning the wine, food, and of course history are the bomb-diggity in my books. Yes, Firenze is known for my beau, David, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, and the Duomo Cathedral. Though, what I’ve discovered over these past few days is a whole different kind of beauty and fun Florence can offer.
No, I am not saying you should avoid visiting the Uffizi or the Academia Gallery; but what I am saying is you should maybe throw in an extra day or two as “free-for-all-days” to enjoy some/all of these 6 off the beaten path places.
1) Stroll the Markets
Walking around, you’ll find Florence has many kiosks that sell tiny Pinocchio’s, aprons/underwear of David, and so forth. Though, if you walk to the Mercato Nuovo, you can find about 10,000 stands that fit in a small (and old) covered platform. I personally never bought anything from there, but It was nice to browse and people watch.
If you find you’re missing your beloved fruit and vegetables (or in general tired of pasta and pizza as I was), make your way to Mercato Centrale! It’s a huge indoor fresh market that sells everything you need. As mentioned before you can get your fruit and veggies here, as well as fresh seafood, meats, flowers etc.
2) Buy take-out, sit on the steps of a random church, and people watch. Simple as that.
It sounds creepy, buy I have actually grown a love of people watching. I find it entertaining seeing locals/tourists do hilarious, stupid, and romantic things in public. Inside my head would be the phrases: “why are you doing that!?”, “stop before something awful happens!” or “awe, why can’t I be them.”
Also, if you’re travelling on a budget, asking for take out saves you from paying a cover charge.
3) Stroll (well…rather climb a few steps) to Piazzale Michaelangelo
If you ever google images of the entire city of Florence, I bet you 50 bucks the person who took that picture was looking out from the Piazzale Michaelangelo. It’s a magical spot that usually doesn’t attract a whole lot of tourists. Yes, there are the odd few but nothing like in the Piazza Della Signoria (oh my goodness, they are like mosquitoes on a summers day). With the stellar view, you will probably spot a bride or two while you’re up there on a sunny day!
If you’re up for some even more amazing pictures, then make it up to the piazzale for sunset. Not only is it absolutely stunning, but it’s more chill and a little less crowded. People sit on the steps drinking vino and birra to the sound of lazy music in the background. I don’t know about you, but that sound super appealing.
If you happen to be in Florence during tourist season (as I am beginning to), then it is also a nice place to have some quiet time and AC. It didn’t cost much at all (10 Euros or so) and you can spend up to an hour and a half there!
The building itself sits parallel to the Arno River, snug and cozy to the Uffizi and a hop-skip and a jump away from
4) Pay a visit to Leonardos Leather Factory.
I was fortunate enough to be able to sit and watch a leather making demonstration on my tour. Seeing the process and hearing how much time and effort it takes absolutely blew my mind. The demonstration man was only talking about making a tiny jewellery box!
I also suggest you pay a visit to their store next door and try on a few things such as bags, jackets, belts, vests, etc. You will walk out of there either with a purchase, or empty handed with the wish you did buy something (I was that person…) oh well.
5) Bring out your inner nerd at the Galileo Museum
This sounds lame, but I would be lying if I didn’t say this was probably my favourite museum I explored in Florence. This multiple-floor exhibit is situated right beside the Uffizi Gallery and commonly gets “walked by.”
A big portion of my excitement came from all the physics I took in school — and the fact I would be seeing the real deal!! The museum is organized by years and categories. Exhibits include original globes, the first telescopes, human anatomy models and even alchemy!
Last but not least….
6) The Bardini Garden
If you are looking for a place (or a sanctuary) to spend some time strolling around with amazing views– then visit this garden! I accessed it through the Pitti Palace (which I also recommend visiting).
Imbedded within hedges and trees are a range of statues, fountains, roses and benches. Their sister garden (the bobini garden) is beautiful too, though I felt they held double the tourists.
It was mid morning when I experienced the bardini garden. I absolutely loved moseying through the pathways, knowing there could be a risk of you getting lost – to which I did at one point. Fear not…an Italian man dressed in a parka sitting in the hot sun helped me. Going on a tangent — I’ve come to realization Italians get really cold. I could have been wearing shorts that day, but didn’t want to be the odd one out. When I was in Sora, I swear to god it was a good 16 degrees outside. Peering outside the car window I saw this man wearing a toque, ski jacket and pants – wait for it – RUNNING! Da f*ck?
Alright, tangent over.
I hope when you decide to visit this absolutely beautiful city, you plan some time to see two or three of these places!
Enjoy your day you lovely people.