Florence was one of my favorite stops on back when I was backpacking Western Europe! Here are some secrets you won’t want to miss.
Florence, Italy is visited by over 16 million tourists each year, and it is easy to see why. In my year living and working in this city straight out of the Renaissance, I completely fell for the charm, history, and culture in Firenze. It can be hard to find the best-kept secrets in Florence, so we’re going to help you out.
In a city so filled with tourists, it can be easy to get caught up in Florence’s main attractions. While San Lorenzo, the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, and Uffizi truly are amazing, if you are planning a visit to the city, you’ll want to make time to see some of Florence’s hidden gems. To help you discover the city’s lesser-known treasures, I’m sharing the top 10 best-kept secrets in Florence! Shh…don’t tell…or do! ;)
Best-Kept Secrets In Florence
1. The view from San Miniato
If you are looking to take an amazing photo of Florence or watch the sunset over the city, most people will direct you to the famous Piazzale Michelangelo. While the view from the Piazzale is excellent, just a short walk away you’ll find San Miniato. This 12th-century church is one of the oldest in Florence, and the view is simply incredible. You’ll also find that it isn’t packed with tourists, as the Piazzale often is.
2. Artisans in Florence
In Florence, you are sure to encounter plenty of “artisans” selling their wares on the streets. While you may find genuine art on the streets of Florence, keep an eye out for mass-produced souvenirs, and try visiting an artisan instead. My personal favorite is the “secret” jewelry workshop of Giuliano Ricchi. There is no sign to find the building where the workshop is located, and you must know which buzzer to press when entering. Despite the lack of signage, inside the shop, there is an abundance of handmade jewelry at fair prices. Giuliano himself may actually give you a tour of his workspace! You can read more about where to find this artisan here.
3. Shh…it’s a Secret…Bakery
The secret bakeries of Florence are quite popular among night owls and study abroad students, but these late-night bakeries often go unnoticed by visitors to Florence. The reason why? The secret bakeries of Florence often don’t open until 2 AM or later. If you find yourself awake and looking for a late night snack, be sure to stop by one of these bakeries. You won’t find a sign, you’ll just have to trust your nose and follow the scent of freshly baked croissants (or the sound of college students heading home from the clubs). For 1 euro, you’ll end up with a delicious freshly baked good long before the local cafes are open.
4. The Vasari Corridor
The Vasari corridor is a hidden passageway in Florence that connects the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palazzo Pitti. The corridor was originally built by the Medici family to connect the Uffizi to the palace where the family resided. Today, you’ll have to make reservations in advance to visit, as much of the corridor is closed to the public.
5. The Apennine Colossus
Just a bus ride away from Florence lies the amazing Colosso dell’Appennino or Appenine Colossus. While I wouldn’t recommend a visit if you are only in Florence for a short time, if you have some time to play with and really love art, then you won’t want to miss this gigantic 16th-century statue. If you don’t have time to visit the park, the famous Boboli gardens in Florence now house many works that were relocated from the Villa Demidoff. You can learn more about the park and how to get there here.
6. Street Art Everywhere
Okay, so if you are pretty observant this one won’t be a secret for you, but for those of you struggling to take your eyes off the beautiful architecture of the city, you may overlook the street art scene in Florence. Throughout the city, you’ll find plenty of street art done by local artists. I especially recommend trying to find Blub’s underwater scenes. You’ll also see many street signs that have been cleverly re-designed by Clet. He is so popular there is even a retail location in Florence where you can purchase your own print or sticker!
7. Rooftop Bars
The rooftop bars in Florence are some of my favorite places to spend an afternoon, sipping cocktails with friends enjoying amazing views of the city. While these bars aren’t exactly hidden, they aren’t easy to detect from the ground! You’ll find many of them above hotels, or even above the popular shopping center La Rinascente. Be sure to treat yourself to evening relaxing at one of my 5 favorite rooftop bars in Florence!
8. The city’s smaller museums
Florence is famous for its museums, particularly the incredible Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia. These museums are certainly worth a visit, but I’m also so in love with Florence’s many smaller museums. The Bargello and Museo di San Marco are two of my favorites, and they usually don’t have lines!
9. Florence’s best restaurants
There are so many places to eat in Florence, which can be really overwhelming to a first time visitor. To help you sift through the tourist traps and get to the best food in town, I’ve compiled a list of the top 30 places to eat and drink in Florence. From the best fancy restaurants to the most delicious pizza and gelato, your taste buds will thank you for taking the time to seek out the yummiest food in town!
10. The side streets of Florence
Many times when walking around Florence it can feel like there are tourists (and selfie stick salesmen) everywhere. So go ahead and get lost-often times the best-hidden gems I’ve discovered when walking outside the beaten path and main tourist locations. One of the best places to escape the crowds is Oltrarno or the “other side” of the Arno river. This neighborhood is far less crowded and has a more low-key and local vibe.
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and get lost in my favorite city, and discover Florence’s best kept secrets for yourself!
For More Italy Journey Guides
- Journey tips for Venice
- Reasons to Visit the Amalfi Coast Off Season
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