Artviva organises walking tours in Florence, Tuscany, Rome and Venice that cover many of the main sites of these historical cities. However, with histories dating back well before Christ, there are obviously more things to see than can be covered in even our fantastically extensive range of guided walking tours.
Some places in Florence, and the surrounding Tuscan countryside which are not covered in our public walking tours (although we can arrange a private guide upon request) which are well-worth a visit include:
? Santa Croce
Piazza Santa Croce, and the Santa Croce church are well worth a visit. The cathedral houses tombs of a veritable who’s-who of Florence’s past. The piazza itself is lined with shops, restaurants and coffee shops. Above the Boccadama restaurant, you can see the oldest fresco in town on the front of the building that holds within some of the town’s most sought-after apartments. Taking a seat in one of the restaurants or coffee shops in the late afternoon is a fantastic way to pass an hour, have a glass of wine and some nibbles to tide you over until the late Tuscan dinner time. As the sun sets over the façade of the cathedral, it is one of the most stunning sights. Frequently the piazza holds markets, and once a year it is where the Calcio Storico (‘historical football/soccer) is held ? an ancient match that combines football and all-out brawling played by the toughest of the tough of the locals wearing nothing but brightly coloured pantaloons. The restaurants in the piazza are all of a great quality.
? Piazzale Michelangelo
Perched above the city centre, this is the piazza that offers the best view of the historical city centre (and the gelato isn’t bad either!). Crossing over the Ponte Vecchio (‘old bridge’ ? lined with gold jewellery stores!), take a left and follow along before you come to a large look-out tower, behind which you’ll find a winding path that leads up to the piazza. The view is even more breath-taking than the steep up-hill walk needed to get there. The piazza was built during the ten years in which Florence was the capital of the newly-formed united country of Italy in the 1860s, before it was handed over to Rome.
? Pitti Palace & the Boboli Gardens
Built by the Pitti family before being purchased by the Medici family to become their family residence, you can explore the historical palace before (or after) strolling through the palace’s backyard, Boboli Gardens. One unusual aspect is the way in which the grounds utilise the stunning views in the surrounds as a feature of the garden, as opposed to the traditional construction of surrounding the gardens with large walls as a privacy measure. There are fountains, rose gardens, statues, and other lovely aspects to explore.
Tuscany’s seaside village, featuring an Art Deco-feel boulevard and some great seafood restaurants. The gelato along the boulevard is also fantastic, and if you’re visiting during the colder months, the chocolate-filled crepes are to die-for!
? Lago Bilancino
Built initially as an additional water reserve for Tuscany, the local wildlife (and the locals) soon flocked to this area and instead it is used now as a place to swim, and as a nature reserve. By day, you can sunbathe, go windsurfing or partake in other water-activities, and by night you can disco!
? The Mall
Tuscany’s most well-known outlet, you can catch a bus direct from the Sita bus station just across the road from the Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station for some of the best shopping at the best prices!