“How beautiful is youth, Which nevertheless flees! Chi vuol essere lieto, sia: di doman non v’è certezza’ Lorenzo de Medici.
Florence may seem a city of history, art and culture alone to those who do not know it well. We certainly do not deny the beauties of this city. There are so many that the city has earned the names ‘Athens of the Middle Ages’ and ‘Capital of the Renaissance’. Anyone who has visited Florence at least once in their life has been amazed by the beauty of its architecture, the richness of its museums and the magnificence of its palaces. How could one not?
What many do not even suspect, however, is that the city of Lorenzo de Medici is also one of the most avant-garde places in the entire ‘Bel Paese’. If art rules the roost, today Florence has been given a new lease of life thanks to street art, which to call crazy is an understatement. If music has always pulsated in the veins of Florence, today the city hosts some of the most famous electronic music events in Europe with international DJs and bass that will invade your soul and make you dance the night away. The culinary art remains at its roots with traditional dishes that are reinvented in chic, low-cost venues and streetfood that wouldn’t make even Gordon Ramsey’s best dishes envious!
Florence is all this and much more. And to discover the true soul of the city, you just have to leave with us!
Visit the city by day, live it by night
Photos by Lola
Let’s start with what makes this city world famous. To discover the wonders of Florence, we recommend you join one of the city’s free tours. Among the many available, there are at least two that are worth taking: they are in English, free of charge and do not require a reservation. The first, the ‘Renaissance tour’, departs at 11 a.m. from Santa Maria Novella and lasts about two hours: on a walk through the historical centre of Florence, you will pass in front of the Duomo, in Piazza della Signoria and end in front of the church of Santa Croce.
The second, the ‘Medici tour’, also leaves from Santa Maria Novella at 5pm and will take you through Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti. Just turn up, easy no?
Photo by Frontiertraveller93
There are also two other ways to admire the majesty of the Duomo and Brunelleschi’s dome: the more touristy one is certainly to go to Piazzale Michelangelo where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the whole city (but also take the opportunity to visit the ‘Rose Garden’… your followers on Instagram will come knocking on your door to thank you in person!); however, we recommend you go at night when the view is really ‘WOW’! On the way down, take a walk along the Lungarno to Ponte Vecchio and the Cestello Church.
The other, which not everyone knows, is to go to the Oblate Library where for a few cents you can sip a good coffee under a historic portico with a view of Florence Cathedral!
How do the people of Florence start the evening?
Photo by Lola
Those who live in Florence know: evenings begin in the Oltrarno (the lesser-known half of the city). In particular, go to Piazza Santo Spirito for a drink, an aperitif or dinner proper. This area is full of shops, stalls and the city’s most famous market: the San Lorenzo market, which stretches from Via dell’Ariento to Piazza San Lorenzo, from which it takes its name. Here you can find everything from clothes, to souvenirs, to great things to eat.
So, if you have time, pop in there even during the day! Take advantage of it also to buy some wine in bulk to ‘take home’: cheap and delicious, every Florentine and Erasmus student knows that!
In case you find yourself in the actual historical centre of Florence, Francesca, a tireless traveller (find her travel stories on FrontierTraveller93) recommended ‘Kitsch 2’ in Via San Gallo 22 for some mouth-watering apericena! Open until late of course….
The Nextech Festival
Today, Nextech Festival is one of the longest-running electronic music festivals in Italy: an event that in 10 years of life has made young people from all over Italy and Europe dance in more than 30 exclusive events in Florence!
The Nextech Festival bears witness to the ferment of the present and imagines the vision of the future, it brings the fascination of age-old art closer to the physical immediacy of electronic music, it unites the vibrant European music art scene with the history that can be breathed in unique and exclusive locations.
Today, the Nextech Festival is one of the most eagerly awaited and exclusive events of Florentine nightlife. On 8, 9 and 10 September, take the opportunity to visit the city and discover its newest and most transgressive face! Ticket prices range from €10 for the first night on Thursday at the Sala Vanni to €32 on Saturday 10 at the Fortezza da Basso… why choose just one night when you can buy a 3-day pass for just €40 (instead of €57)?
Visit the Duomo by day and indulge in music by night!
The morning after… is always the best!
Photos from Lola‘s PLUS
Back from the first night of the Nextech Festival you probably feel like relaxing and recovering from all that dancing the night before. If you chose the Florence PLUS, head up to the beautiful panoramic terrace with a view of the Duomo to sip a coffee in the sun or head to one of the two pools to cool off before heading out again.
Photos of Lola‘s PLUS
If you’re a lover of greenery, head to the Boboli Gardens: the greenery of this park is a real treat for your tiredness and that extra glass you’ve been drinking. Stroll through the endless gardens of this wonderful park behind the Pitti Palace and enjoy the moment. Can you already feel the calm of this enchanted place dropping on your eyelids?
To discover a younger, more avant-garde Florence, wander around the city and discover all the works of Blub and his #Lartesanuotare where he transforms poets, musicians, celebrities and works of art into… underwater works! So summery!
Other works we are in love with are those from the Exit/Enter ‘collection’ that decorate the streets of Florence in great numbers. Who among you wouldn’t want to fly away with that red balloon?
Last but not least, we cannot fail to mention the urban masterpieces by Clet Abraham who transforms street signs into real works of art with the stop sign being carried away by a little man, or a ‘try and catch me’ on the ‘Exit’ sign, or even a crucified ‘Christ’.
Art has never stopped being a protagonist in Florence!
Eating in Florence Spending Little
Photo by Lola
We don’t know for sure, but we certainly wouldn’t be surprised if there were more tourists than ‘Florentines’ in the city centre at certain times of the year. This is synonymous with tourist traps for the more experienced traveller. Just like in the hostel, here at Hostelworld, we help with the most valuable tips and suggestions to discover the hidden gems of the city. Especially when it comes to eating!
“Il Cernacchino” in Via della Condotta 38, if you are looking for real low-cost Florentine street food, is the place to start! Also drop in at ‘Antico Vinaio’ in Via Dei Neri 74 (it is very popular with tourists because of its central location and because… the word is out!) for a glass of Tuscan wine and some ‘real’ sandwiches.
If, on the other hand, you want to sit just a stone’s throw from Santa Maria Novella station, you will find the ‘trattoria da Giorgio’ in Via Palazzuolo 100: here you can eat typical Tuscan cuisine at very affordable prices (first course, second course and side dish starting from 15€), unfortunately it only seats 20/30 so it is best to book!
We asked some of our favourite travel bloggers about their experiences in Florence! What was yours? What impressed you most about the non-touristy?
Photo by Frontiertraveller93
“Florence is beauty in its purest state; it’s the intense, pungent smell of broom in bloom; it’s the longing for a placid stroll along the banks of the Arno; it’s the vibrant, positive energy that envelops you and lulls you through the streets of the centre; it’s the surprise of always being moved by the pinkish hues of the marble at sunset time” Follow Francesca from FrontierTraveller93 on her Instagram profile!
Photo by Lola
“Florence is surrounded by some of the most beautiful Italian landscapes. My advice is to also explore the nearby Chianti region. How can you turn down a day of wine and cheese in such wonderful places!” Follow Lola on her Instagram and Facebook profiles!