Florence is one of the most charming and visited cities in the world (you wanna know why? read here), but there are some hidden gems not many people know about. Here are five unusual things to do in Florence if you want to get off the beaten path.
1| Follow your nose to the Rose Garden
Everyone knows Boboli Gardens, but if you’re looking for a calmer, less-crowded park to relax in the sun, head to the Rose Garden. It’s a beautiful little corner that offers a great view over the city, and luckily not many people know about it.
The Rose Garden is located in the Oltrarno neighborhood, and it’s open every day till sunset. On a windy day, you’ll easily find the garden by following the delicious smell that lingers in the air.
2| Find some treasures at Piazza del Ciompi flea market
Piazza del Ciompi and its market stalls selling second-hand items and antiques are definitely not a secret, and many visitors make their way to the market each day.
Not many people seem to know, though, that every last Sunday of the month the market expands in the surrounding neighborhood: vintage lovers, but not only them, will love to go treasure hunting among over 100 stalls selling pretty much anything you can imagine. If you are traveling with your family, kids will love it too!
3| Get lost in the Oltrarno neighborhood
The Oltrarno neighborhood is called “the other Florence,” and it’s always been the working-class and most traditional part of town.
Just head to the other side of Arno River by passing through the Vasari Corridor, and you’ll find yourself in a much quieter part of the city. Not many tourists come here, but the labyrinth of streets hide some hidden gems.
The Oltrarno is in fact the neighborhood where the Florentine artisan labs were located, and you can still find tiny shops where potters, shoemakers, goldsmiths, and tanners retain the old traditions.
4| Be brave and eat some tripe
Once a traditional street food for working class people, tripe is now considered a real delicacy and a Florentine specialty.
Tripe is made of the intestines or stomach of a cow, but don’t let this put you off.
If the idea of the tripe doesn’t really attract you, the best way to try it is to order a “Lampredotto,” a sandwich in which the tripe, cooked with herbs and tomatoes, is served with sauces in a bun that has been soaked with broth. Super yummy!
There are a few “trippai” (tripe stands) in Florence, especially in the Oltrarno neighborhood: the most famous is probably “I’ Trippaio San Frediano,” located in Piazza de’ Nerli.
5| Head to San Miniato al Monte at sunset for a terrific view over the city
Any tourist visiting Florence must visit the most popular landmarks, such as the Duomo, but in Florence there are equally beautiful and lesser-known churches that are worth a visit.
One of these is San Miniato al Monte, which is considered one of the most beautiful Romanesque churches in the country. You can even squeeze this in if you have just one day in Florence!
Its lucky position, right on top of a hill overlooking the city, is another reason not to miss this spot. It’s one of the best viewpoints in Florence!
Piazzale Michelangelo, a piazza located right under the church, hosts a variety of cafés and bars where the view is included in the price.
Take bus number 12 or 13, or get ready for a healthy jog up the hill (a somewhat popular activity among the locals).
Are you backpacking through Europe? Check out this awesome guide on visiting Florence on a budget.