Going “Off the Grid” in Florence, Italy
With just a little bit of research, you can experience cities in entirely new ways. Of course, in a city like Florence, you want to see all of the world-famous monuments, paintings, and sculptures. After your done with the on-the-beaten-path tour, go “off the grid” and follow these tips to get the most out of this Italian gem on the Arno River.
1. Lose yourself.
Stroll along the streets and discover the local gems. Florence is a walking city and a perfect place to find your wanderlust. If you love photography as I do, Florence is one photogenic city! There is no lack of photo ops, so bring an extra memory card and make sure the battery is charged!
2. Stay across the Arno River.
Oltrarno (meaning across the Arno), gives you the neighbourly feel and just lovely to walk out and enjoy the local scene. In October, I stayed at Il Palagetto, a comfortable, welcoming guest house just 10 minutes from the river and 20 minutes to Florence’s historical centre.
Another little gem worth checking out is a wonderful B&B called Fiorenza B&B.
3. Book an organized walking tour.
Is it history you love or are you a foodie? Either way, you will find a tour to suit your tastes. I recommend these two companies for a great experience!
For Art & History, I cannot think of a more informative, fun and animated tour than Freya’s Florence. Even if you are not a history lover (like me…I admit it), I am always engaged and captivated especially in a city like Florence, birthplace of the Renaissance and some of the greatest works of art ever created. When booking, request Sashia as your private guide. You will be dazzled!
Foodies – a must do is a culinary walk through the city streets. Get to know where some of the best hidden gems are located with tastings along the way…you just can’t go wrong with Taste Florence!
4. Get restaurant recommendations from people who know (like me!)
Zeb – Spaghetti with truffles recommended or ravioli stuffed with ricotta and topped with pears…delicious! Mother and son run the show, making fresh dishes daily.
Enoteca Alessi – This wine shop and bar is the perfect spot to enjoy Tuscan delicacies and lovely wines. It’s one of the few shops in the city still owned by the original owners and who buy directly from the vineyards. Take some extra time before or after your aperativo, there are plenty of goods to discover in the gourmet shop.
Vestri – Here you can find handmade chocolates and freshly-made gelato. This is where I always find my perfect gelato and I am sure you will too! I go so often when I am visiting the city, they know me by name now :-).
Santarpia – If you are serious pizza lover, then venture off the usual tourist path and head to Pizzeria Santarpia in the neighbourhood of Sant’ Ambrogio. A warm welcome by a legendary pizzaiolo – Giovanni Santarpia. Wood Fired Delicious Pizza! The pumpkin and pancetta pizza was delicious!
5. Indulge your senses in an outdoor market
Sant’ Ambrogio – Maybe it’s just watching all the locals purchase their goods for the day, maybe it’s the fresh produce and the farmers or maybe it’s the wonderful little neighbourhood but put it all together and this is my fave in the city! I can spend everyday there and never tire of the atmosphere. Bring an extra bag to shop for fresh pecorino, local organic wine, focaccia with tomatoes and zucchini and olive oil. Take it back to your B&B and have a feast!
Porcellino Market – There is certainly no lack of shopping in Florence and let me assure you, it is world-class. Not far from the Ponte Vecchio, the Porcellino Market in Piazza Nuovo is where you can find affordable scarves, leather goods and take a selfie with the most popular boar in town- don’t forget to rub his nose for good fortune!
6. Learn to cook, Tuscan-style
If you have one full day and want to do something very special, I would suggest a chef-guided market tour and cooking day. Imagine picking fresh produce with a private chef, head into the hills of the Chianti region to cook up delicious Tuscan dishes in a private home, with sublime views and some Chianti wine in hand! This full day experience can be booked through Delectable Destinations.
7. Getting out of the city with Wine & Food Tours
About 30 minutes out of the city, there is a company called KM Zero Tours, run by a lovely young couple. They will personally guide you to small, local and passionate producers and artisans (cheese, wine and more) and immerse you in Tuscan culture. I can guarantee you will be inspired by their authentic lifestyle.
Trust me, this list can go on and on. Florence is city that will capture your heart the first time, and give you more and more each and every time you go. This list is just to get you started… so go “Off the Grid” in Florence, Italy
Carol Ketelson is the owner and operator of Delectable Destinations LLC. Dedicated to planning, co-ordinating and curating customized group tours to hand-picked destinations. As an experienced travel planner, Carol’s customized itineraries, specialized tours and off-the-beaten-path experiences create memorable journeys for her small groups of singles, couples, divorced, widowed and solo travelers seeking exceptional trips into the culture and cuisine of destinations around the world. Spring and Fall bookings invite travelers to taste delectable local cuisine, culturally rich traditions and mesmerizing sights. For over 10 years, Carol’s tours have captured the true essence of Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, Puglia, Spain and India.
Delectable Destinations…Delivering your dream trip. For more information & 2017 trips log onto: www.delectabledestinations.com