You’re studying in one of the best cities in the world, it’s time to ditch the Rick Steves and explore on your own! There’s not much better than finding a hidden spot that’s off the beaten track. A place that tourists don’t know about and somewhere you can share with all of your friends and seem like a true local. For the adventurous type- here’s a start to your list of secret spots in Florence…
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Now, let's get to it! These are some of my absolute favorite spots in all of Florence...let's see if you've heard of them before.
If you feel like being a baller one night definitely try one of Florence’s rooftop bars to get the best views of the city at night. Some of the best are La Terrazza at La Continentale Hotel, The Westin Excelsior, Grand Hotel Baglioni, and Plaza Hotel Lucchesi.
For the ballers on a budget, there’s a reasonably priced café on the top of the department store La Rinascente in Piazza Della Reppublica.
Whether you’re trying to see how your soccer skills compare to that of Italians or just get a sweat going there are a few awesome spots to play in Florence. There’s an awesome little turf field located at Via Giuseppe Giusti, 23. If your school doesn’t have a team sometimes you can just sneak on and shoot around. Another small turf field where locals are always playing is located in Piazza Massimo D’Azeglio. Free to play, but that ankle surgery is gonna cost ya!
Escape the city center and go exploring! There’s a little stand right out in the front of Santa Maria Novella station that rents bikes for super cheap! One hour = 2 euros | Five hours = 5 euros | One Day = 10 euros. If you happen to have an ATAF bus pass prices are basically half the non-resident prices. You can find an awesome open path along the Arno going west that is nice and open without cars.
Sometimes you just gotta be basic…and go somewhere for the insta. Florence’s Rose Garden has tons of cool statues like this empty suitcase. Located just below Piazzale Michelangelo in Viale Giuseppe Poggi.
If you’ve walked only a few blocks in Florence you’ve most likely seen Clet’s work. Clet creatively alters street signs in some pretty cool ways. His studio across the Arno is pretty amazing. You can buy one of these street signs or just a small sticker replica for just €1. Via dell'Olmo, 8
Late night munchies? Follow the sweet smell of fresh pastries to a secret bakery. Order in Italian. Most of these places are in residential neighborhoods so you need to keep quiet otherwise you may not get served. Some of our favorites are brioches or cornettas con crema or nutella. Be respectful!! This is technically illegal so be careful.
2. Laboratoria di Pasticceria Arrighi (Pizza dell'Indipendenza/SMN Train Station)-On the corner of via delle Ruote and via San Gallo.
3. The (Truly Secret) Bakery (Santa Croce)-Facing Santa Croce, take the street directly to the left of the church and make the first left onto Via delle Pinzochere. The bakery will be on your right.
4. The (Truly Secret) Family Bakery (Santa Croce)- Facing Santa Croce, take the street directly to the left of the church and make the third left onto Via de' Macci. The bakery will be on your left and the door is covered by caged bars. You can see into the back where they bake and after a wave or two they'll come open the door.
Forget Piazzale Michelangelo, ditch the crowded steps and head just down the street to Florence’s oldest church. Home of dozens of monks who you can hear chanting if you go at the right time. Also there are actual benches to sit, enjoy the view and a bottle of vino!
Just outside Florence’s city center you will stumble upon some incredible villas. Take an ATAF bus to explore some of these amazing properties. Villa Corsini a Castello, Villa della Petraia, and Poggio a Caiano are some of the best that allow regular visitors.
Article and photos by Matt Nelson.
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