No matters the temperature nor what the weather forecast says: the regional capital of the Tuscany always deserves a tour, but maybe during winter, it acquires more charm. Here are some advices about where to go and what to see in Florence when the cold season arrives.
by Lucia Mancini
Some Italian destinations gained their fame among tourists from all over the world thanks to their indisputable beauty and their historical charm: Rome, Venice, Naples, Perugia, for example, are cities that attract a great mass of visitors every season. Florence has always been one of the Italian destinations preferred by our fellow countryman but even by those who come from abroad.
Not always this has a positive repercussion. If we think about the squares and the crowded roads, the places full of people and the interminable lines outside the most important museums, we notice how sometimes it may be difficult to visit Florence. There would actually be a solution: enjoy Florence in the winter. Winter, in fact, does not detract from the beauty of this wonderful place, nor does it diminish the pleasure that can be gained from admiring its squares and buildings: the Duomo with the dome by Brunelleschi and the bell tower by Giotto, the church of Santa Maria Novella, Piazza della Signoria with Palazzo Vecchio, the Basilica of Santa Croce, the Giardino di Boboli and Ponte Vecchio, just to mention some of them, don’t lose value only for the harsh temperatures and the north wind which lashes the legs. The winter light contributes to enriching its Renaissance charm. In fact, winter, the low tourist season, allows you to enjoy a city like Florence with more tranquility; visitors are always present, of course, but not in the quantities that make spring and summer days almost unlivable. Indeed, early in the morning it will almost seem like being alone wandering around the squares and streets.
If you are lucky enough to visit Florence in the winter, you cannot fail to take advantage of the few people who will flock to its museums. Entering the Uffizi will be a matter of minutes and being able to admire Botticelli’s Venus, Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation, Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo or Caravaggio’s Bacchus, a mission which normally results almost impossible. The same applies even to Donatello’s sculptures at the museum of Bagello. But Florence is full of places which may offer cultural days and, at the same time, it may be a shelter where to spend the coldest wintry hours. A few people, for example, are acquainted with the Horne museum which, even though is set in the heart of the old town, inside the Renaissance residence of Palazzo Corsi, remains one of the secret places of the city. Its collection counts beyond 6 miles Medieval and Renaissance works of art, gathered by the eclectic and educated art historian Herbert Percy Horne, with works of art by Giotto, Masaccio, Filippino Lippi and Giambologna.
If you love good food you can taste typical dishes of the Tuscan tradition. Street food has reached very high quality levels. You can walk around the San Lorenzo market; between one stall and another, on the outside, you can admire pottery, clothes, stationery items, souvenirs and various leather items. Obligatory passage also to the Central Market: two floors entirely dedicated to food; with butchers, fishmongers, fruit and vegetable stalls and small shops, or workshops, which sell local specialties, giving you the opportunity to sit and enjoy them on the spot. Another stop for Florentine food enthusiasts is the Antico Vinaio, a stone’s throw from Piazza della Signoria, managed by the Mazzanti family since the 1990s. This reality, now present in three different versions (take away, seated street food and tavern), is known above all for its stuffed schiacciate and for the passion with which it has always offered its customers the best of the Florentine tradition. And if after all this eating you need something that will help you digest better.
And if after all this eating you need something that will help you digest better, why not go to the Perfume-Pharmaceutical Workshop of Santa Maria Novella? A real Florentine gem, one of the oldest and longest-running shops in the world (4 centuries of activity) in a shop/museum where you can admire decorations and furnishings from various eras and buy cosmetic items, perfumes, ancient preparations and herbal products. In short, whether in summer or in winter, Florence is a destination that is always worth the trip.