Myths, Legends, Unique Stays & Places to Visit in Florence

Explore our¬†nineteen favorite exciting, unique stays & places to visit in Florence Italy. From museums through restaurants & shops to hotels. Discover Florence’s lesser-known side,¬†its myths & legends and go beyond Uffizi & the Duomo to have a truly unique vacation on a traditional destination.

Looking for the undiscovered places in Florence? Don’t have to look further, this city is full of quaint things to do for lovers of the unusual and lesser-known. The Tuscan capital is much more than a breathtaking historic city, it’s also a culinary destination, a buzzing city for the ones desiring nightlife filled with rare treasures.

Read on and make your quirky heart beat faster by these, one of a kind creations! 

19| Have your Breakfast¬†at S.Forno One of Florence’s oldest Bakery

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This bakery may not seem much from the outside but the moment you step in the door you will be welcomed by the heart-warming scent of freshly baked goods, vintage design, and of course a big smile.  All the pastry and bread is freshly baked in the bakery behind the store where you can also get a peek inside if you wish.

You can have anything from cakes and panini to salads if you want to have a full meal. They don’t yet have much gluten and lactose-free options so keep that in mind if you plan to have more than a few bites here. However, the bakery’s history and traditional bites make this place a must visit in town for foodies.

Here you can enjoy your traditional and delicious bites without tourists in a stylish but warm atmosphere with locals. The owners also opened a restaurant and a bar not far from the bakery. Visit their fun site to make sure you have a table during your visit. 

18| Todo Modo Book & Cafe 

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This art cafe in Florence is actually in a bookstore. Isn’t there a better vibe than in a bookstore? I love the quiet, the smell of books and the lights in a library or bookstore, hence it is one of the most ideal spots for me to sip a cup of coffee, a¬†snack from the daily changing healthy Italian menu or have a nice spritz before exploring the bookshelves.

Besides the vast collection of books and delicious bites, you can visit or book practices in the small theater and study photography in the Galleria Fotografica. They also have many programs (Unfortunately, most of them are only in Italian) but they also have musical guests from time to time. 

While you discover your new favorite Italian writer’s book have a nice cup of something under the beautiful greenery in the middle of this magical bookstore.¬†

You can visit Todo Modo’s site to discover what’s on during your visit.

17 | Take a quick tour in Biblioteca Riccardiana & Moreniana (Library)

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You have to plan ahead¬†if you want to visit these libraries but it’s worth all the planning. Riccardiana was founded in 1600 but was only moved to this location in 1670 while the Moreniana library was¬†assembled¬†by¬†Pietro Bigazzi in 1870. Both have breathtaking Baroque style and while Riccardiana mostly has manuscripts in their collections Moreniana specializes¬†in books about the history and culture of Tuscany.

Riccardiana opened to the public 1715 while Moreniana in 1942 it’s still considerably hard to get in. Unless you’re a scholar or work for some sort of publication you may find it hard to get in. These libraries are not only architectural masterpieces but they’re also packed with rare treasures which makes it understandable why they’re so strict¬†when it comes to visitors.¬†

You can visit their website and plead your case to the right person and you might just get admission into these library heavens. 

16| Gelateria La Carraia РGelato by the Arno

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There is no life without Gelato in Florence. La Carraia is a lovely little gelato shop offering gluten-free options as well, while the flavors are on an artistic display. Sit down near the river Arno’s bank to enjoy the beautiful view of Florence.

The gelato here is creamy, sweet, and they give you a spoonful too.

15| Alessandro Dari Alchemist & Goldsmith’s Museum

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I already wrote about the charming museum of the talented Signor Dari when I wrote about my favorite things to do in Florence post. This magical store is open to the public with no charge (small donation accepted) every day. Stepping into his shop/museum/apartment/workshop truly feels like stepping into another world. A world where jewelry turns not only into art but where it actually comes alive. 

It’s only ten minutes walk from Ponte Vecchio and most days you can enjoy these incredible artworks without any tourists. His jewels all have a tale to share and all of them will leave you mesmerized.¬†

You can also peek into the master’s workshop to see where the magic happens. If you’re lucky you may even find the master at work.

14| enjoy one of Florence’s best views at Forte di Belvedere

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Also known as the Fortezza offers one of the best views of Florence. It is already a great feature, however, the historic fort hosts exhibitions changing every once in a while throughout the year. 

Despite this one is a fairly well-known place in Florence many tourists still miss it. The view is amazing and the cafe is well priced. You can enjoy one of Florence’s best sunsets here without much disturbance and with a classic Aperol Spritz in your hand.¬†

13-12| Dine Like a dandy at La leggenda Dei Frati & Bardini Garden

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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to dine like a Dandy? The Michelin awarded team of La Leggenda Dei Frati and their proud, talented Chefs/Owners Filippo Saporito & Ombretta Giovannini will make sure to have one of the most special fine dining experiences of your life. Filippo and his team poured all their love, knowledge, and creativity into this place and earned their first Michelin Star in a considerably short time in 2016.¬†

The restaurant is part of the mesmerizing Bardini Villa that has one of the most amazing views of Florence not to mention the beautiful Italian Renaissance garden. The restaurant itself is modern, elegant but welcoming just like the polite and professional staff. 

The dishes are traditional Tuscan at heart but all have a unique modern twist to them. They also have an amazing wine selection to match their food offerings. Every bite is a delight and you will find their passionate touch in every detail from their organic herbs and veggies picked from their own garden to their artistic fine dining presentation.

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Did I mention you can also visit the Bardini Museum free of charge if you dine here? The Chefs have an extra set of keys just in case you want to make this experience a truly multisensory one. Don’t miss the garden either! We had the pleasure to walk around in this Renaissance haven with Ilaria Legato, the restaurant’s communication designer who told us about this unique place’s fascinating history while admiring all of Florence from above the garden’s central, Baroque staircase.¬†

The Bardini Villa & Garden belonged to various aristocratic families¬†since it was built in the¬†1600s. In 1913 Stefano Bardini, Florence’s most famous Dandy, avid art lover,¬†and collector purchased it. He famously invited his dates to have secret dinners in the garden. Now it’s part of the Boboli museum network and its exhibition center opened to the public.

Menu tasting prices start at $65 which I think is a fair price if you consider everything you will get in exchange. Make sure to book a table here if you’re planning a special lunch or dinner during your stay in Florence.¬†

11| Explore the miniature Wine windows of Florence

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Most visitors pass by them every day without even noticing these tiny doors on some of the oldest palazzos’ walls. You will find these curious little windows as you walk along the streets of old Florence. They’re usually miniature copies of their full-size counterparts, the main entrances to each palazzo.¬†

What purpose do they serve? They’re little doors for elves and fairies. Just kidding! Unfortunately, there is a much realistic but still pretty appealing story behind it. Especially so if you’re a wine lover yourself.

This architectural style which is wholly unique to Florence dates back to the 17th century when noble Florentine families decided to sell their wine through these little wine doors to the public without having to let them into the property. These ‘buchette del vino’¬†or ‘wine holes’ if you like, were connected to the palazzo’s storeroom. This way making it easier to cut the middlemen¬†and selling their¬†wine to the public.¬†

While these windows merely serve¬†as aesthetics these days, it’s still pretty fun to hunt for them all around town. I found my favorites in¬†Via Maggio and¬†Via del Giglio. You can check out this site to see the whole collection or follow this interactive map to make sure you find them all. While these are handy features I’d recommend not to overuse them because they suck the fun out of this special treasure hunt.¬†¬†

10| Visit AquaFlor & create your Own unique Scent

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The moment you step in, dreamy aromas and dim lights will welcome you to the world of perfume. This place is especially fun to visit on a rainy day in Florence. You can do a tour of the shop, the laboratory where these unique creations are made and visit the charming guest area where customers can learn and design their own unique perfume. 

Tour starts at $40 and you can create your own 100ml perfume for $180. Which sounds pricey at first but if we consider that a higher quality 100ml generic perfume (Dior, Chanel etc…) costs somewhere between $100-$150 then this price for your own, one of a kind perfume doesn’t sound that high anymore.

The shop itself is worth a visit even without a tour and there are other cheaper but handmade and unique perfumes, soaps can be found there. This can be also a beautiful romantic surprise for your partner during a getaway, anniversary or honeymoon.

9| Stop by Gilda’s for lunch

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Gilda Bistrot is adored by locals and there is nothing better than taking a short break in your art scavenger hunt at this homey and charming little diner. The colors,¬†aromas,¬†and tastes are going to give you a boost to continue exploring Florence’s vast collection of artistic sights.¬†

Entering this charming bistrot truly feels like a travel back in time. The design, menu and even the dishes match the style. Prices are low to mid range so you won’t even have to break the bank to have a nice breakfast, lunch or dinner here.

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The Bistrot is still run by the same person since its opening day; Gilda and now her son as well. You will surely see them during your visit since they’re always around. They’re still involved¬†in everything from serving guests to have a nice chat with them about Florence and Gilda of course. If you have time make sure to check out their buffet breakfast because it’s on the budget but you will find freshly baked goods with good Italian coffee.

Not to mention how lovely it is to have your morning coffee on Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti next to the¬†Sant’Ambrogio Market that’s bustling with local poducers and customers.

8| The Legend of Santa maria maggiore

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A short walk from the majestic¬†Duomo you will find the less impressive church of Santa Maria Maggiore. It was built in the 8th century and while it’s smaller and less attractive than most churches in Florence this one has a rather odd and definitely unique legend attached to its name.

As you walk past the northern walls of the church you will find a random stone head up high that emerges from the bricks. The legend says that the strange bust belongs to a cursed woman. During the witch trials many accused were executed on¬†Piazza Santa Croce just next to the church. A thirsty sorcerer’s last wish was to get a cup of water before his death. However, this woman leaned out a window and yelled to the crowd to deny his request.¬†

As a punishment, the sorcerer cursed the woman and turned her into the stone head you can see today.

Most visitors never look up and miss this piece of mysterious Florentine history. So, next time you visit this magnificent¬†city don’t forget to look up while walking past the northern walls of Santa Maria Maggiore.

7| Hunt for Florence’s last ghost

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On one of the most visited squares in town, Piazza Santissima Annunziata you can find Florence’s last ghost. According to the centuries-old tale, there is a heartbroken ghost living in Palazzo Budini. If you pass by the majestic building you will find that the far right window on the second floor of the building is always open.

Why? Because centuries ago two lovers were separated by war and this determined ghost lady is still waiting for her husband to return. 

6| Get lost in the world of Bardini’s treasures

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If you enjoy quiet museums but want to see quality artworks tastefully displayed, visit the Bardini museum. While this museum’s fine collection was originally assembled by Stefano Bardini, it’s not to be mistaken with the Bardini Villa & Garden. This museum can be found a stone throw away from the river Arno and Ponte Vecchio. While it’s fairly well known, many travelers decide to just skip it. Well, they miss out on a beautiful museum.

I would suggest getting museum & events recommendations from Mus.E because they always have fantastic tours and options for a good price. In case you have a little more time I would also check out their Inferno tour in Palazzo Vecchio. 

5| Don’t miss Michelangelo’s legendary graffiti

When you walk around in the majestic¬†Piazza della Signoria and enjoy the views of Palazzo Vecchio and the beautiful replica of the David statue (You can find the original David statue in¬†Accademia.) take a quick look at Michelangelo’s lesser-known artwork as well.¬†

While there is no real proof that the master himself made the carvings on the Vecchio wall, the legend says it happened in 1504 during Michelangelo was working on his David statue on Piazza della¬†Signoria. Michelangelo was always in a hurry to get back to his work but one chatty man wouldn’t let him and would always keep him from his works.¬†

Michelangelo got so bored after a while that he¬†turned his back to the wall and engraved a profile of the “l‚Äôimportuno di Michelangelo” or “The impatient Michelangelo” with his knife.¬†

While it can’t be proved that this mysterious artwork belongs to Michelangelo, it says a lot that it’s still on Palazzo Vecchio’s wall. So, this legend may be more than an everyday hear-say.¬†

4| Indulge in art deco and smooth piano music at Gilo (gilò)

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Looking for a unique nightlife program in Florence? After a long day, nothing is more rewarding than sitting back in one of the stylish-comfy armchairs of Gilo, the last pillar of the Florentine piano bar-community. As it seems to be a success, the long-extinct ’70s chic nightlife maybe making a comeback thanks to the music and art enthusiast Lotti family.

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Try their signature cocktails and if there is some room left, or got hungry again, food is served until 1am-do not miss the freshly homemade pasta. This tasteful art deco designed bar is an artwork as it is but once the lights come on, it turns into a real piece of gem. After 8 pm visitors can enjoy live piano music by various Florentine artists. 

On some nights you can even meet Gilo’s owner the lovely Federica Lotti and learn more about the family’s fascinating history.

3,2,1| Unique Places to stay in Florence – when¬†It’s time to call it a day

 

Thankfully Florence is not only filled with unique places to visit but unique hotels to stay at as well. Why stay in an ordinary hotel when you can stay in somewhere special for the same price, right?

Here are my top three unique accommodations in Florence from High-end to budget stay.

Hotel Brunelleschi – This breathtaking historic hotel does not only have an exciting history but has its own private museum on-site, its own byzantine tower that was once used as a prison¬†for witches, and two magnificent restaurants as well. Their rooms and suites are a dream come true and the service is always spot on. Perfect for special occasions or travelers who want to enjoy some luxury. You can read more about this beautiful historic Hotel and why it is called the ‘heart of Florence’.

We always use Hotels Combined to find the best prices. This handy site collects all the best offers online from Booking.com, Agoda and all the other booking sites and shows the best prices available. 

Book your room at the Historic Hotel Brunelleschi.

Casa Rovai¬†stands out because of its 16th-18th-century frescoes in most of the rooms accompanied by the furnishings taking you back to the old times. Art and history. Isn’t it the best retreat when in the beautiful Florence?¬† Their prices are more budget friendly but you’ll still get a beautiful room, homemade cake and freshly baked croissant in the morning.¬†

Book your room at Casa Rovai

Tasso Hostel¬†quickly became Florence’s most special hostel. It’s a perfect choice for those who enjoy art and vintage vibe but prefer to stay on a budget. The hostel often has its own art shows and the owner has a special guide to Florence with her favorite finds in the city.¬†

Book your room at Tasso Hostel.

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