Though the city may be easily conquered on foot in a day, Florence hides thousands of secrets.
Some of these mysteries and secrets have been lost to the merciless sands of time, but others are still there, waiting to be discovered. The obvious tourist attractions—the Duomo , the academia and the David, and the Uffizi—are great and necessary locations for first-timers, but more experienced Florentines may want to dig a little deeper…
1. The Vasari Corridor
The corridor that the Medicis’ built to walk between the Uffizi gallery, over the Ponte Vecchio, and into the Pitti Palace still exists and can be seen via an exclusive Vasari corridor tour. The view over the Ponte Vecchio alone is enough to justify this exclusive visit, but the secrets to be learned make this tour a must-see. The trick is to book the tour well in advance, as it’s only open to small groups sporadically over the year. Check out Tickitaly.com for booking your tour.
2. Drinks on the top of the Westin Hotel
So…this one is not necessarily a historical secret but it’s a well-guarded Florentine gem that’s not to be missed. Aperativo, or drinks and appetizers, is a huge social custom in Florence but the aperativo at the Westin is by far the best one in the city. Wheels of fresh parmesan and pasta salad that’s just been dressed, tomatoes and fresh bread, a pre-dinner drink, or a light supper are just some of the offerings. Eighteen euro for a drink, unlimited delicious food, and an unparalleled view of the city makes for one of best deals you can get if you’re looking for a nice night out.
3. Piazzale Michelangelo
After climbing 500 steps to the top of the Duomo, why not climb a little higher for the best view of the city? Always picture perfect, the Piazzale Michelangelo holds the second imitation David statue and is the most romantic spot with a beautiful view. Any time of day or night, it’s worth the hike (or the taxi ride).
4. La Giostra
A tiny restaurant mostly known to locals, La Giostra is hidden past the Duomo and available mostly by reservation only. For one of the best meals you will eat in Italy, book your dinner in advance (may I recommend the Bronzino as well?).
5. Visit a villa
Usually no more than a half hour drive outside of the main city, the Tuscan villa secrets await. The grounds are sprawling, the view is peaceful, and the quiet change of scenery is generally welcomed after days of tourist attractions.