How to travel the city like a local and avoid tourist traps.
Florence is one of my favorite cities in the world. I had the opportunity to live there for a semester while in college, and it was the best experience of my life. I learned a lot while living there, and I was able to discover hidden sections of the city that tourists don’t normally get to experience. So, ditch the heels and pack your comfiest pair of sneakers: check out these hidden not-to-miss treasures of the city that started the Renaissance.
Piazza Santo Spirito
Florentine piazza’s are spectacular and rich in architectural history. This piazza is nestled across the river from the Duomo and is home to more locals than most areas. There are many areas of Florence, but I believe this is the most beautiful. The piazza is home to the church Santo Spirito, a beautiful building in the center of the piazza. Locals like to enjoy a slice of pizza and a bottle of wine on the steps as they people watch. There are numerous outdoor restaurants that cover the walls of the piazza and a giant fountain resides in the middle where children play and people enjoy delicious gelato. What makes this place a hidden gem is the fact that it’s not on a normal tourist’s schedule. If you’re staying near the grand Duomo (aka Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, is arguably the most popular tourist attraction), it’s about a 20 minute walk, but completely worth it!
Viale Giuseppe Poggi
This road is the best way to make the climb to the most amazing panoramic view of Florence. It was designed by Giuseppe Poggi, who was the designer of Piazzale Michelangelo (the name of the beautiful piazza with Florence’s panoramic view. What most tourists don’t know about Piazzale Michelangelo, is that this famous pedestrian road was built for people to walk straight up to the panoramic view. It’s a winding road surrounded by beautiful architecture and garden pathways. It’s also about a 70 degree angle–so make sure you’re ready to hike! This road is convenient for people who have decided to view Florence on foot and provides breathtaking views in the process.
Florence’s most famous beach (probably). This unchartered territory is nestled right in the middle of the Arno River–and yes, it’s a beach! On a nice day, people can lay out their towels and enjoy some sun and stunning views of the river (but don’t think about going swimming!) This hidden territory is first visible to walking pedestrians above the river. It lies in front of Viale Giuseppe Poggi, and takes a bit of walking and weaving to get to beach level, but once you’re there, it’s a stunning little beach! Right above the beach is a beach bar that opens in May. What better way to enjoy a beach in Florence than with a cold Bellini?
This beautiful garden can be found 15 minutes west of the grand Duomo, and lies on the grounds of the Corsini Palace. The design is spectacular and it features an avenue of wonderful Florentine statues, elegantly trimmed bushes, and gorgeous flower beds. They also regularly host small food markets throughout the garden where people from all over the world can appreciate fresh Italian fruits and vegetables.