You’ve seen the world-class museums, tasted Bistecca alla Fiorentina, and visited Florence’s impressive cathedrals. After all, a trip to Florence wouldn’t be the same without spending time visiting the must-see sites and experiencing the Renaissance city’s cultural treasures.
Even in a city as popular with tourists as Florence, however, there are still plenty of off the beaten path adventures to be had. Here are eight of our favorite lesser-known things to see and do in Firenze, the heart of Tuscany.
L’importuno di Michelangelo
You’ve probably already seen the glorious Palazzo Vecchio, but it’s likely that this little carving slipped under your radar. Located to the right of the entrance, near the corner of the building, is the outline of a face of a man purportedly carved by Michelangelo. Legend has it that this man bored Michelangelo with his idle chatter enough that the artist chiseled the importuno (nuisance) into the wall simply to pass the time.
Caffetteria delle Oblate
The Oblate, a library located in a former convent built in the late 1200s, is a wonderful place to visit for any book or history lover. But even if reading isn’t your thing, the terrace of the caffetteria located in the second floor of this architectural gem is the perfect place to escape for a morning cappuccino or an afternoon spritz alongside a beautiful view of the Duomo.
Who doesn’t love a good secret? This adults-only tour offers a glimpse of the Renaissance city as you’ve never seen her before. From the shocking lifestyles of the rich and famous to the seedy underbelly of the city’s past, you can learn about the scandals that rocked the Renaissance right here in Florence.
Clet Abraham Studio
Located in the vibrant neighborhood of San Niccolò is the studio of famed French street artist Clet Abraham, better known as CLET. He’s achieved cult popularity by modifying street signs to create whimsical and humorous art pieces that are sprinkled throughout the city. Stop by his studio to learn about his process and take home some stickers, t-shirts, or signs of your own.
This Museum of Zoology and Natural History, better known as La Specola, houses an impressive collection of weird and captivating objects. If taxidermied animals (such as a stuffed hippopotamus that was once allowed to roam through Boboli Gardens) and medical wax figures are your thing, then this is the place for you!
Speaking of Boboli Gardens, there is another gorgeous garden tucked away nearby on the grounds of a 17th-century villa – Giardino Bardini. Here you’ll find less tourists and stunning views from the top. Make sure you visit during the spring, when the purple wisteria is in full bloom!
Murder, Mystery & Wine: The Dark Side of Florence
The charming medieval Oltrarno quarter hides a dark and mysterious past. On this tour you will be lead through its intriguing history on this unique twilight adventure (before taking the edge off with a glass of Italian wine). Delve into its mysterious and murky past on this relaxing evening stroll.
Getting a carefully crafted shot at Eby’s is a right of passage for both Florentines and visitors alike. The bartender, a doppelganger for Albert Einstein, will make you one of the most elaborate (and tasty!) shots you’ve ever had the pleasure of trying. Just be prepared to be egged on with shouts of “Vai! Vai! Vai!” from the bartender, which of course is half of the fun.
Italy is our home. Get to know it the way we do! We’re experts at making history come alive on our entertaining Italy tours. Contact us anytime via email or phone, or stop by our Florence office during opening hours for more information on what we offer.