The Best Hidden Gems in Florence Even Locals Don’t Know About

Palazzo Vecchio in Florence is a must-see
Palazzo Vecchio in Florence is a must-see | © Sorin Colac / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Francesca Masotti
13 September 2021

It’s no secret Florence is home to renowned pieces of art and architecture. The town is famous for its majestic cathedral, Giotto’s Bell Tower, Uffizi Gallery and Ponte Vecchio, but it also has plenty of hidden gems that are worth a look.

Appennine Colossus at Villa Demidoff

Historical Landmark
16 C. statue known as the Apennine Colossus by Giambologna in garden of the Villa Demidoff di Pratolino
© David Lyons / Alamy Stock Photo

Just 30 minutes from the historical city centre of Florence, Villa Demidoff is a must-see spot: an elegant villa with a beautiful garden, where a majestic 16th-century statue, the Colosso dell’Appennino realised by Giambologna, lies hidden. If you have extra time while you are in Florence, it is totally worth a visit.

San Marco Museum

Museo Nazionale di San Marco
© JOHN KELLERMAN / Alamy Stock Photo

If you’ve already visited Florence or know it well, avoid the famous and crowded museums, such as Uffizi Gallery and Accademia, and head to San Marco Museum. It is located inside a Dominican monastery and hosts beautiful pieces of art from the 16th-century, including works painted by the great Beato Angelico. A plus here is that you’ll not find lines or hordes of people!

Todo Modo

Bookstore, Store
Just a few steps from the beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, Todo Modo is the coolest bookstore in Florence to find a great selection of English and Italian books. Todo Modo is not just an ordinary bookshop but also the perfect place for brunch or a quick lunch.

Borgo San Jacopo

Architectural Landmark
View towards the facades of Borgo San Jacopo
© Novarc Images / Miguel Caibarien / mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

If you’ve had enough of tourists and selfie sticks, head to Oltrarno on the other side of the Arno River, the less-crowded and coolest neighbourhood of Florence. Here, on Borgo San Jacopo, a secret street near Ponte Vecchio, you can admire beautiful palaces including towers and take in spectacular views over the old bridge and river.

Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy

Health Spa
Internal room of the Santa Maria Novella pharmacy in Florence Italy Established 600 years ago
© Ranking_ZoomedSold / Alamy Stock Photo
Founded by Dominican friars in 1221, Officina Profumo Farmaceutica is a true hidden Florentine gem, close to Santa Maria Novella train station. Here, you’ll not only find medicines but also delicious scents and perfumes. Did you know that the first perfume (considered in the modern way) was made in Florence, when Catherine de Medici asked for a scent for her wedding?

Street art in Via Toscanella

Architectural Landmark
Street art, Uffizi, Florence, Italy
© mark saunders / Alamy Stock Photo

Near the majestic Piazza Pitti, with its stunning Pitti Palace, there is a narrow, hidden street with beautiful murals. The name is Via Toscanella, and, for street art enthusiasts, it is a must-see in Florence.

Flea market on Piazza dei Ciompi

Summer market of old vintage objects
© iryna1/Shutterstock
There is nothing better than going to the flea markets to live the authentic spirit of a town. The most famous flea market in Florence is the one located on Piazza dei Ciompi: here, you can buy good second-hand stuff or antiques to decorate your home.

Michelangelo’s Secret Carving

Building, Museum, Historical Landmark
Face of man carved on the wall of Palazzo Vecchio. Florence, Italy
© Inna Zabotnova / Alamy Stock Photo
On the façade of Palazzo Vecchio, the administrative city centre of Florence, you can spot a hidden face carved by Michelangelo. The artist used to spend most of his time in the square, and, by legend, he carved the face of a man who used to bore him with stories behind the man’s back while Michelangelo was pretending to listen.

Traffic signs by Clet

Art Gallery
Florence, road sign, street art by Clet Abraham
© mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

When in Florence, pay attention to the traffic signs! Why? A local artist called Clet has been adding stickers to them since the summer of 2010. Now, they are part of the art scene of Florence, even if many people, including the administrators of the town, don’t really appreciate them.

Perseus with the Head of Medusa

Perseus with the head of Medusa
© Michael Interisano/Travel RM / Design Pics Inc / Alamy Stock Photo

One of the most beautiful places to visit in Florence is Loggia dei Lanzi, a coveted pavilion near Palazzo Vecchio with several statues made by Italian artists. One of the most famous is the Perseus with the Head of Medusa, sculpted by the great Benvenuto Cellini. The cool thing here is not only the spectacular front of the statue but also the back, where there is a face carved into the back of Perseus’s head. This is the self-portrait of Cellini himself.

Torrigiani Garden

Botanical Garden
The flower garden at the Villa Torrigiani
© Brian Hartshorn / Alamy Stock Photo
Besides the famous Boboli and Bardini gardens, Florence is also home to a secret, private garden, the Torrigiani Garden. It is the largest private garden situated within city boundaries in Europe. Torrigiani Garden was transformed by the owner Marquis Pietro Torrigiani into a romantic park in an English style and now is a green oasis in the middle of the town.
These recommendations were updated on September 13, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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