This tops the list because you can find locals here any night of the week to grab an aperitivo or coffee and catch up with friends. Just close enough to the heart of the city, but still on the fringe between where the locals live and the fun of the centre, Sant’Ambrosio is definitely one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Florence. This area is also home to the Sant’Ambrosio Market, a daily outdoor/indoor morning market selling everything from fresh local produce and clothes to household items, which is always packed with locals. Pick a bar, trendy new restaurant, or classic Italian trattoria and enjoy a bit of the lifestyle.
This little neighbourhood is in Oltrarno (the other side of the river), and just a stone’s throw away from where most tourists stop venturing. With plenty of new restaurants and bars, and a couple of music venues, this neighbourhood has been improving and attracting more and more Italians for a night out. The atmosphere is more casual, with an artsy twist. The main square also hosts a few markets per month and the church, which is a staple of the Florentine skyline, is also worth peeking into.
As part of the historical city centre, this area is easily accessible and near anything else on the agenda for the day. From lunch at a good restaurant to dessert, drinks, or even live music, this neighbourhood has it all. Enjoy the church and the square, and sit and people watch for awhile. Although it is filled with many of the main sights in Florence (read: full of tourists), you can enjoy a relaxing time and even explore the edges of the area where you will find more locals and the coolest spots. This neighbourhood shares a boarder with the Sant’Ambrosio area, so if you keep walking, you’ll end up in the real locals’ hangouts.
Originally considered the artist neighbourhood, San Niccolò is full of funky art galleries, low key bars and restaurants, and a concentrated amount of pretty cool street art. Identifiable by the medieval tower that still stands, this is one of the neighbourhoods in the Oltrarno area, also popular with the locals, with a relaxed vibe and a slightly hipster touch. Take your time in this quirky hangout and experience a less crowded area of the city. Most of the foot traffic here is from the tourists descending from Piazzale Michelangelo and walking through this area to get back to the other side of the Arno river. Take your time and get to know it before following the crowd.
Historically, this hasn’t been the greatest neighbourhood, but in recent years, with the opening of new bars and restaurants, it’s turned into the cool up-and-coming spot for young creatives in the Oltrarno area. The square also hosts a few markets per month, including a flea market, a farmers’ market, and a creative market, where artists sell their handmade goods. More and more people are reading about it, and therefore it is increasingly popular with students and travellers, but not yet saturated with oblivious tourists (let’s keep it that way). During the summer nights, the square is packed with locals enjoying a night out, drinks in hand, conversations flowing, and music playing from all the different establishments in the square. It’s a great time, but remember, let’s keep it our little secret.