Located on the left bank of the Arno River, Santo Spirito is the liveliest neighbourhood of Florence, with plenty of things to see and do. Despite it being less touristic and less crowded than the city centre, it is the coolest area of town that everyone should include in their Florentine trip. Here’s a list of top things to see and do in Santo Spirito.
Just a few steps from the majestic church of Santo Spirito, designed by the great Filippo Brunelleschi, the author of the spectacular Dome of Florence, there is a nice pizzeria called Gusta Pizza. Known for its lively atmosphere and good pizza, which is some of the cheapest in town, it is the perfect place to start your night out in Florence. Gusta Pizza is very famous and sometimes it can be very hard to find a place to sit, so remember to come here early to get a table.
Santo Spirito is one of the best places to hang out and meet locals. It is an area with plenty of pubs and cafés, so it’s the perfect place to enjoy a beautiful night out. One of the most famous pubs of Florence, Volume, is located in the large square, a popular spot frequented mostly by young people and students.
Santo Spirito is historically known as the artisans district, so here you’ll find plenty of cool stores to buy authentic leather goods made by Florentine artisans. But the area is also full of beautiful vintage boutiques, such as Celeste Vintage, just a few steps from the stunning Palazzo Pitti. It is like a heaven for those who are looking for unique items for a more-than-fair price.
Behind the majestic Pitti Palace is hidden the most famous Italian garden: Boboli. It is a true gem, a kind of open-air museum with fountains, statues and caves, made by some of the most famous Italian architects of all time, such as Buontalenti, who created the fairytale-like Grotta del Buontalenti, a large cave located at the end of the park. The perfect time to visit Boboli is spring, when flowers bloom and the sun shines all day long. So keep it in mind for your next trip to Florence, and don’t forget to bring your camera with you to take pictures of the town panoramas from the viewpoints located in the park.
With plenty of authentic restaurants, Santo Spirito is undoubtely the best place to dine in Florence. Prices are lower than on the other side of the river and the food is better. While Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina offers beautiful views of the Pitti Palace, the nearby Il Magazzino, in the lovely and small Piazza della Passera, is the best choice to enjoy a great dinner out from the crowd. Book ahead if you can, just to guarantee your non-touristic dinner.
Piazza Santo Spirito is one of the most beautiful and authentic squares of Florence, home to a street market perfect for spending some time chatting with locals and improving your Italian. It will not be easy to have a conversation with old Florentines, because almost none of them speak a word of English, but you can always use gestures and say just a few words in Italian, and they will be happy to help you with suggestions.
If you are attracted to ancient history (and if you are not, avoid visiting Florence!), don’t forget to book a ticket to visit the hidden passageway built by Duke Cosimo I de Medici in the 16th century to avoid walking through the streets and meeting the crowds. Today the corridor, which links Palazzo Vecchio with Palazzo Pitti, houses a spectacular collection of artists’ self-portraits and offers stunning views of the Arno River.