Many of us that live in Florence know how to move in this city. We have learned to take advantage of free visits to the museums and appreciate wonderful local restaurants that serve delicious food and spend less than average tourists. Here is what you should visit in Florence even if you are just passing by!
Food to feel good!
There is nothing better than to treat yourself as a king with one of the delicacies you can find in the local Osteria or Tratoria. These are all restaurants that serve local produce and regional Italian food. Here you can enjoy in full your food and vine and there is no place that serves less than divine food. The main characteristic is that this food is always fresh, they buy from local producers and farmers.
You can buy something on the local market as well. There are few old markets that have places inside where you can eat freshly bought fish or meat. Such is San Lorenzo, a central market.
Get ready to taste some local delicacies as tripe or lampredotto, ribollita soup or even fried brain! It is all delicious and you should be adventurous and try it before judging. For those that feel feeble at the very thought of fried brain or tripe there is exquisite Bistecca alla Fiorentina, the Florentine T-bone. It is a grilled steak like no other. You must be a master to prepare it. This steak comes from the semi wild bovines called Chianina and they are the largest and one of the oldest cattle breeds in the world. This steak is always over 1,4 kg weight, so you will need someone to help you eat it all.
I and my friends usually begin the night out with a traditional “aperitivo“. Some compare it to a happy hour but it is much more than an hour. Traditionally aperitivo drink is a bitter-based cocktail like a prosecco spritz made with campari or aperol, negroni and other vermouth/bitter liqueur based spirits.
You can get aperitivo almost in every bar and many bars serve more than just snacks and finger food with it. Some serve real diner dishes that you eat in the restaurants. Few of them are favorite student’s spots (Le Murate) where they can get drinks and dinner together in combination with some cultural events, concerts or theatre representations. Usually the Florentine happy hour goes from 6pm to 10pm.
The night continues with a dinner at the local restaurants and a walk to digest all the food eaten in the past few hours. It is the Florentine night out, so try to follow and join the locals!
The night continues in the bars that continue their work up to 2 am on the weekends or you can go to places that have live music or if you like wild dancing nights some of clubs are made for you.
What is free and what is not?
I have already mentioned that museums are free every first Sunday of the month, but you can check it on line as well. There are places like Officina Profumo Farmaceutica near the Santa Maria Novella and it is one of the oldest apothecaries in the world that is active from the 13 century till now. You can visit the place and if you like perfumes and liquors you can buy them. The quality is excellent and they have all the information about the place and their products written in more than 10 languages. Your olfactory senses will get overwhelmed with sweet smells from herbs and perfumes.
The churches and basilicas that are free are: San Miniato in Monte, Santo Stefano, San Lorenzo and many other churches with exception of Santa Croce, Duomo (Cathedral) and Santa Maria Novella.
Private gardens are open to the public and you don`t need the ticket to enter, but to be sure when they open their doors visit the official Florentine sites dedicated to gardens and parks.
If you want to see how Florence artists influence the city pay attention to the unusual installations that can adorn some palaces or sideway streets. Modern and contemporary pieces of art will surprise you suddenly and without explanation you can find yourself in the street that has one.
Traffic signs by Clet is the example of how artists take everyday objects and transform them. Have you ever paid attention to the traffic signs in Florence? A local artist called Clet decided one day to spice up the city. He adds stickers to traffic signs ever since the summer of 2010.
Local urban legends and facts
There are a lot of legends that Florentines believe in and like to narrate to the tourists. You are lucky if some benevolent Florentine that speaks English is in a mood to tell you about his Florence.
In the mean time you can visit here and find out about some of the most curious stories that make part of the oral history of Florence. True or not, verified facts or just legends, it doesn’t matter, you will get involved in the charming incantation that is the very soul of Florence that was and Florence of today.
Enjoy your visit!