Where to stay in Florence: a neighbourhood guide
Florence is an incredibly beautiful city nestled between the Tuscany hills, and each corner has its own personality. We’re here to help you find the best area to stay in Florence to suit your travelling tastes.
Florence is smaller than other Italian cities like Rome or Milan, and can often be overlooked in favour of more famous places. But don’t be fooled! Florence is by far my favourite city in Italy and most of my Italian friends would agree. Its laid-back vibe, stunning Renaissance art-filled streets and creative culture makes it a mandatory stop for everyone who decides to explore the Italian boot.
Florence is administratively divided into five Quarters, but there’s not really a reason to leave what is considered the First Quarter – or Historic Centre – if you’re visiting. There is where all the attractions and the best hostels are, and it’s really the beating heart of Florence.
That being said, Florence is also divided into rioni, which comes from regionem, Latin for regions. The rioni are a medieval concept, and they tend to overlap and not have clear borders. The First Quarter alone includes more than thirty of them! There are general areas Florentines tend to refer to, but don’t take this guide too strictly, it’s more of a general division!
The main landmark you have to keep in mind is the Arno, Florence’s own river. It splits the city into two and many believe there is a strict difference between what’s North of the Arno, i.e the main attractions, and what’s South, or – as the locals say – over the river. This part is, in my opinion, the most fun, as it’s where you can find pretty cafès, artisan boutiques and way less tourists.
If you stick to the First Quarter you won’t need any form of transportation to get around the city, bar your legs and a comfy pair of shoes. I’ve walked across the city many times, so I promise it’s doable even for the laziest of humans. You could always rent a bike, but it’s not really necessary and it’ll make reaching lookout points way harder than it needs to be, or you could just go by bus. For a one-stop solution you could buy the FirenzeCard+, that for €90 includes priority access to a bunch of museums and public transportation tickets for 72 hours. As always with these kinds of cards, you should evaluate if it turns out cheaper for you, taking into consideration how many of those attractions you’re actually planning on visiting. Also note that on the first Sunday of the month, every museum in Italy is free! You may have to queue a little bit longer, but if you’re not visiting during peak tourist season (May to September) it won’t be that bad and you can save a lot of money.
There are many ways to get to Florence. You can reach it by plane at the Amerigo Vespucci Airport, which is 20 minutes from the centre, or by train at the Santa Maria Novella station. If you’re going by train, I recommend you look into Italo first, rather than Trenitalia. Most travellers don’t know about this train company, but it’s usually cheaper and faster.
Without further ado, here is is the low-down on where to stay in Florence. Warning: you may just fall in love!
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Santa Maria Novella – the best area to start exploring Florence
Chances are Santa Maria Novella will be the first area of Florence you’ll encounter, as it’s where the principal train station of the city is. Because of the convenient size of Florence, it’s still very close to all the main attractions and home to some of the best hostels around.
What to do in Santa Maria Novella
First of all, you can’t miss the cathedral that gives the neighbourhood its name. Santa Maria Novella is a gothic-Romanic wonder and you’ll be impressed by its lively façade, with different coloured marble tiles making up geometric designs. Inside the cathedral you’ll find incredible works of art, like Giotto’s crucifix and the stunning Strozzi chapel.
From there, you won’t have to walk long before stumbling into the Fortezza Da Basso, a fortress more than 500 years old. You can’t talk of Florence without thinking of the Medici, the noble family that ran the city and Tuscany for over 300 years, which is who this building belongs to. This family made Florence what it is today, especially when it comes to the incredible amount of art there is to discover. Cosimo de Medici, in fact, decided to use his money to finance artists and literary men of the time, turning Florence into the cradle of the Renaissance it is known as today.
The Santa Maria Novella neighbourhood is also characterised by amazing gardens, like the secret Orti Oricellari Gardens. Even more impressive though, are the Santa Maria Novella Gardens, that used to be used by monks to cultivate medicinal herbs. Today, they are home to a unique rose called ‘Rosa Novella’, a gallic rose hybrid created by Roberto Cavina.
The gardens are open to the public, but the flowers and plants are used to create perfumes for the Officina Profumo Farmaceutico di Santa Maria Novella. This magical boutique is considered the oldest pharmacy in all of Europe and is more than 400 years old! You can get perfumes, soaps or other beauty products, or even ask the artisan to come up with a personalised scent for you or someone you love.
Address: Via della Scala 16, 50123, Florence Italy
Places to eat in Santa Maria Novella
La Nicchia Winebar Enoteca Bistrot. Locals love this bistrot and call it a hidden gem in the neighbourhood. The place is cosy and cheap, and you’ll be able to taste all the traditional Florentine food without breaking the bank. In case you want to pass on the typical steak, they also offer vegan and vegetarian options. It’s excellent value for money, so there’s no reason not to try it out!
Address: Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci 34R, 50123, Florence, Italy
Best hostels in Santa Maria Novella
PLUS is one of those hostels that makes you wonder how they can be so affordable. With two pools – one outdoor and one indoor – and an incredible deck with chairs and benches, your friends will wonder if you’re in Florence or Bali. PLUS also boasts an in-house restaurant and bar, but the best is yet to come. Climb to the rooftop terrace and gaze in awe at the view of Florence at your feet. Truly breathtaking.
According to Hostelworld users, this hostel is so pretty it could be confused for a luxury hotel. It’s been praised for its delicious and cheap dinners, it features a buffet breakfast and organises hikes and tours around Florence and the Tuscany hills. The walls are covered in art, the rooms are big and bright and there’s both a patio and a garden you can chill in. What more could you ask for?
This is one of those old school hostels where you just have to sit down, relax, and make new friends. The breakfast is included, the rooms are cosy, and the staff are warm and friendly. Are you ready to become a part of the My Friends family?
With just five rooms in this guesthouse, you already know the atmosphere will be cosy and friendly. Il Ghiro’s mission is to make you feel at home and build long-lasting friendships, as you cook a bowl of spaghetti for dinner in the shared kitchen or watch a football game in the common room. Remember that you’re in Florence though, so you have to cheer for Fiorentina!
Centro Storico – the best area to see the main attractions
This area is the heart of Florence, and where you’ll find all the main attractions. It’s probably where you’ll end up spending most of your time, just because of the incredible amount of art you’ll be able to spot in such a small perimeter. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s encircled by the ancient walls of the city.
What to do in Centro Storico
Get ready because this is a long one. The amount of art and culture you can discover in less than 10,000 kilometres square is insane.
If you start your visit with your back to the Arno, the Uffizi Gallery will be right in front of you. This is Florence’s biggest museum and one of the most important in the world. If you’re a fan of Renaissance art you can’t miss out on the biggest collection of Raffaello and Botticelli in the world, featuring world-renowned paintings like the Birth of Venus or the Primavera. It will take you the whole day to visit it, but it’s definitely worth it, even if just to experience the architecture of the building itself.
In front of the museum, you’ll find a lot of artists ready to capture the beauty of Florence in a painting. These people are professional artists and give the square an unmissable atmosphere. I still think about the old man with an eye patch and his hands covered in paint. He painted beautiful pictures of corners of the city and I really wish I got one of his pieces, I just didn’t know how to pack it to take it home.
Walking straight from the Uffizi Gallery you’ll end up in my personal favourite place in all of Florence: Piazza della Signoria. This L-shaped plaza is simply something you’ll have never experienced before, especially if you manage to get there very early when it isn’t crowded with people. Most striking are the dozens of Renaissance statutes scattered around the square. The view of these marble inhabitants as you first enter is almost shocking: why are such masterpieces just laying around in the open? Shouldn’t they be in a museum? But that’s the beauty of Italy, where most cities are open-air museums and you could just stumble upon Michelangelo’s David (although that’s actually a copy, the original is in Accademia Gallery) on your way to work.
My favourite part of the square is the Loggia della Signoria, a covered lodge filled with (you guessed it) sculptures, with Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabine Women and Cellini’s Perseus with the Head of Medusa among them. This place holds very dear memories for me as it’s where my friend and I spent hours drawing passers-by and statues, just waiting for the sun to set on the city. I was also wearing a beret, so yeah, it was very artsy.
The real star of Centro Storico is the Piazza del Duomo, one of the symbols of Florence. My favourite thing about this place is the way all the different buildings are crammed together, as if there wasn’t enough space for all of them to stand tall on their own. It reminds me just how much art and architecture there is in Italy, we literally don’t have enough space for it all!
The main buildings on the square are Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, the Giotto’s Bell Tower, and the Baptistery of Saint John. The buildings are a mixture of gothic and Renaissance architecture and stand out for their pastel-coloured marbles that go from green to pink. These constructions are so stunning that even my really-not-into-churches friend was impressed and had to stop to admire them.
The cathedral’s most famous asset is its dome, which is Florence’s symbol and the most recognisable part of its skyline. The dome is a testament to Brunelleschi’s genius, because its circumference meant it wasn’t expected to stay up. The architect thought of a double self-supporting shell, and the rest is history!
Finally, make your way to Piazza della Repubblica, Florence’s Roman centre. This huge square is where a lot of the hustle and bustle is in Florence, with lodges filled with some of the best shops in the city. My friend and I sat on the stairs painting, while a guy played the saxophone in front of the vintage carousel in the centre of the square. Just an example of the magical moments you can experience in Florence!
Places to eat in Centro Storico
JJ Cathedral. Ok, I hear you: why would you go to an Irish bar when you’re in Florence? But this is where I got properly drunk for the first time in my life, with my two best friends, so it holds a pretty special place in my heart. I understand this green-lit tiny room may not look like much, and the amazing location – right in front of the Duomo! – makes it look like a tourist trap, but the cheap cocktails and endless list of delicious shots make it worth a visit. Also, if you’re in the city during the summer, you should totally check out the balcony upstairs… who can say they downed a shot on a terrace overlooking the Duomo in Florence?
P.S: try the chocolate cake shot: it tastes just like cake because of the chocolate liquor, which makes it deliciously dangerous.
Address: Piazza di San Giovanni 4R, 50123, Florence, Italy
Rooster Café. I know my international friends tend to get a little grumpy after a week of eating pastry for breakfast, so if you’re craving eggs and waffles, this place is for you. Rooster Café is an institution among young students in Florence, so much so that there’s often a long line to enter, especially if you’re there for Sunday brunch. The industrial design, international atmosphere, and delicious dishes make it a place that’s worth the queue, and an Instagram post!
Address: Via Sant’Egidio 37R, 50122, Florence, Italy
Brac. Am I the only one that has a soft spot for restaurants in old libraries that also function as cultural spaces? If you share this very niche passion with me, Brac will be right up your street. It’s a landmark for anyone who’s into contemporary art or delicious vegan and vegetarian food. Most of the ingredients are organic and locally sourced, and you may find yourself in the middle of a book presentation when you just wanted something to eat.
Address: Via dei Vagellai 18R, 50122, Florence, Italy
Nu Ovo. The name of this place is a play on the words egg and new in Italian, and although it may seem a bit out of a backpacker’s budget, I believe that an all-you-can-eat buffet is something you should never miss out on. You can go for Sunday brunch and for only €27 have bottomless everything. They specialise in eggs so expect to find everything from marbled to scrambled, and even egg sushi. There’s also bacon, burgers, salad, and a whole separate table of carbs like bread and pizza, cheese, and cured meats. Plus coffee, juices, and tea. Oh, and a dessert table. I still dream about their lemon meringue. My advice is to go hungry, stay for a couple of hours, and leave so full you swear you’re never going to eat anything again.
Address: Via del Proconsolo 3, 50122, Florence, Italy
Caffetteria Delle Oblate. I’m including this because I’m sure you’ve seen this photo all over Instagram a thousand times, and the place is actually pretty nice. It’s a coffee shop on the rooftop of a library, which already makes it pretty romantic. Once there you can drink your coffee while looking over the dome and curl up on the lodge.
Address: Via dell’Oriuolo 26, 50122, Florence, Italy
Best hostels in Centro Storico
The incredible location of this hostel is complimented by amazing staff who want you to have the best stay ever – so they’re ready to help you book visits for the main attractions or to add beds in your room. They don’t have bunk beds, so you’ll sleep as comfy as in a hotel, for a hostel price!
This cosy home is located in a 15th-century building, and it’s the perfect place to stay for a romantic getaway, offering private rooms with queen-sized beds. The terrace makes the place, as the idea of having breakfast overlooking Florence’s rooftops is on many traveller’s bucket lists. The owner also makes a homemade cake for breakfast, so really what more could you ask for?
Oltrarno – the best area to discover Florentine craftmanship
Still technically part of Centro Storico, Oltrarno literally means over the Arno and feels like a whole different neighbourhood. A little less touristy than the north side of the river, it’s where you can still find a lot of small artisanal stores that keep alive the traditional soul of Florence.
What to do in Oltrarno
Connecting the north side of Florence to Oltrarno is one of the most picturesque bridges in Italy: Ponte Vecchio. This famous triple-arched bridge is incredibly beautiful, lined with goldsmiths’ boutiques and colourful, irregular houses. Although walking across Ponte Vecchio is a bucket list experience, you should brace yourself for so many tourists it’ll be hard to walk. Don’t worry though, Ponte Vecchio is best enjoyed from the outside, so by all means cross on the parallel bridges and stop for a cheeky picture.
Something that I love about Florence is the amount of small artisanal shops scattered around the city. You can find door makers, shoe makers and even bookbinders, all with their heads down working with their hands in these small boutiques overlooking the river. These handmade items are not exactly backpacker budget-friendly, but the sight of a man sanding down a piece of wood by hand in 2019 is quite special.
My favourite artisanal shop in Florence is a little jewellery boutique that I stumbled upon by chance four or five years ago. I remember entering and feeling like I’d been catapulted into Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley because of the different mechanisms ticking and the potions bubbling. There are jars everywhere with labels like ‘Summer Night, 1987” or “That day I kissed you in the rain” – I concluded that they must hold air and feelings of those special days! The boutique is actually a jewellery store selling some of the most intricate pieces I have ever seen, and it’s owned by Alessandro Dari, a master goldsmith and alchemist. A real must-visit if you want to experience some Florentine magic!
Address: Via di San Niccolò 115R, 50125, Florence, Italy
Palazzo Pitti is another incredible museum you can’t miss in Florence. It’s technically still part of the Uffizi collection – confusing, I know – but focuses more on Baroque art and the 500. If you’re all art-ed out, you should go just for the Boboli Gardens, a perfect example of Italian-style gardens. They are huge and home to many museums, like the Porcelain Museum and the Costume Gallery.
Did you know that Florence has its own Banksy? Blub is an anonymous Florentine artist, who’s signature is reimagining famous paintings underwater, with the subject wearing a scuba mask. You’ll find their artwork scattered all around the city, especially on this side of the river. I dare you to find them all! They’re not the only street artists in Florence though: look for the work of Clet Abraham, who modifies stop signs around the city, the wooden sculptures of Moradi Il Sedicente, or tiny little men holding heart balloons. What’s really interesting is that this practice is centuries old: back in the day, people used to paint religious scenes all over Florence.
After wandering around looking for street art and artisanal workshops, what better way to complete your hipster-fest than getting a strip of photos from an old Photobooth? Fotoautomatica booths can be found all around the city, but this one, with its burgundy curtains and light-up sign, has an even more vintage feel to it.
Address: Via Santa Monaca 1, 50124, Florence, Italy
Places to eat in Oltrarno
Amici di Ponte Vecchio. As you can tell by now, I have memories attached to every part of Florence, and this little street-side food place is no exception. It makes me think of a very rainy day when I sat outside under the shelter watching people cross the street carrying umbrellas, while I was nibbling on a €3 Margherita focaccia. Amici di Ponte Vecchio is the perfect place to grab something quick to eat while walking through the streets of Florence, with the added bonus of eating lunch for a couple of euros.
Address: Via de’ Bardi 49R, 50125, Florence, Italy
San Tea House. Florence may not strike you as a place to get bubble tea, but this little family owned business is ready to change your mind. Imagine finding shelter in a cosy little café as it’s raining outside, listening to relaxing music while you’re sipping on a delicious salted caramel milk tea. Just typing about it makes me want to go back!
Address: Via de’ Barbadori, 21R-23R, 50125, Florence, Italy
Osteria Santo Spirito. In case focaccia and bubble tea are not enough for you, check out this traditional restaurant, where you can fill your stomach without emptying your wallet. Get ready for truffle everything and amazing cheeseboards to enjoy with a glass of wine. Don’t miss out on the cured meats: that’s what Tuscany is famous for!
Address: Piazza Santo Spirito 16R, 50125, Florence, Italy
La Cité – Libreria Café. You may not be familiar with the term radical chic, which in Italian describes leftist people who talk about social politics while sipping expensive wine in élite circles. Now, this is actually a snarky term, but it’s the first thing that comes to my mind when trying to describe this cultural hub. A bar set in an old bookshop is already intellectual, but if you add homemade beet hummus and life drawing lessons on Tuesdays you may get a feel of what I’m trying to say. It’s the perfect place for people who enjoy being pretentious while rolling their eyes at how pretentious people are – and let me tell you, I’m guilty as charged.
Address: Borgo San Frediano 20, 50124, Florence, Italy
Best hostels in Oltrarno
At Tasso hostel, they believe in promoting local and international musicians, poets, filmmakers and artists – not hard to do when the hostel features multiple lounge areas, a garden, a bar and a theatre stage. Even if you decide not to stay at Tasso, you should definitely check out its famous parties. If you want to meet new people and consider yourself a creative person, you shouldn’t miss out. Between daily events and a vintage aesthetic, you might want to move in!
Santa Monaca is one of the oldest hostels in Florence, and it’s located in an ex-convent. The creative vibe of Oltrarno is evident in the multiple musical shows they organise during the week. They even have their own grand piano! Look no further for a friendly home in the heart of Florence.
Santa Croce – the best area to learn about Florence’s history
Cathedrals, writers and ancient football – you’ll find it all in this small neighbourhood very close to the historic centre. Santa Croce may be the best place to stay if you enjoy being close the main attractions but want to dodge the super touristy sites.
Basilica di Santa Croce at sunrise
What to do in Santa Croce
Like basically every neighbourhood in Florence, the name Santa Croce comes from the Santa Croce Cathedral, characterised by a very pretty pastel-coloured façade. The cathedral is the burial place of some of the greatest artists and intellectuals in Italian history. Machiavelli, Michelangelo and Galileo Galilei are all resting there.
Right in front of the cathedral, there’s a statue dedicated to one of the most important figures in Florence’s history: Dante Alighieri. He’s the author of the Divina Commedia, the father of the Italian language and the Dante of Dante’s Inferno.
Santa Croce is also home to one of the most famous gardens in Florence, Palazzo Caccini Garden. If you’re into botany, you’ll freak out over the different species of plants you can find there. Otherwise, you can chill on the green grass and bask in the sun.
If you feel like you still didn’t get enough art in you, check out Giorgio Vasari’s home. He was a great painter, architect and art historian, and used to live in this incredible house decorated with frescos from the 500 and his own personal operas. A true goldmine for art aficionados!
By now you should know that Italians love football, but did you know that there’s a particular version of it called historic football that is only played in Florence? This sport is inspired by a Latin game called harpastum, and it’s actually more similar to rugby than football. Although the thought a bunch of grown men in togas running after a ball may seem ridiculous, this is actually a pretty dangerous sport, and many get injured while playing it. If you happen to be in Florence in June, you should definitely get tickets for one of the games that take place in Santa Croce square.
Places to eat in Santa Croce
The Book Pub. Yes, I’m still obsessing over book & food combos. The Book Pub looks a lot like a typical pub where you can relax with a cold pint, but it also offers board games and you can write on the walls. Between that and cheap craft beers, it’s easy to see why the Book Pub is a locals’ favourite.
Address: Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti 11-12R, 50121, Florence, Italy
Le Murate Caffé Letterario offers happy hours and live music in a renewed jailhouse. It’s open from 3pm to 1am, so you could spend your whole day there, as many students do. This café is a cultural hub where dozens of events take place, from book presentations to film screenings. The food goes from pizza to espresso, but Le Murate is particularly known for its apertivo, the delicious Italian habit of drinking wine and nibbling on small tapas-like food before dinner.
Address: Piazza delle Murate, 50122, Florence, Italy
Johnny Bruschetta. Pronounced brusketta with a strong c, this very simple dish is the main focus of this little restaurant in Santa Croce. With a tagline like ‘Everyone can be Johnny’, communal tables and bruschetta boards to share, it’s the perfect place to spend a night with friends or make new ones!
Address: Via dei Macci 77R, 50122, Florence, Italy
Gelateria Vivoli. The owners claim to make the best gelato in the world, so it makes sense for you to go and try it out for yourself and see if they live up to it. I mean, it’s been running since 1929, so they must be doing something right!
Address: Via dell’Isola delle Stinche 7R, 50122, Florence, Italy
Odeon Bistro. Aperitivo is an art form in Italy, and if you play your cards right you may end up snatching up a dinner for the price of a cocktail. Odeon Bistro is great for that because it offers a yummy buffet that you can go for seconds (and thirds) at! If you want to act like a local, order a Negroni – aka gin, bitter and vermouth – as legend says it has Florentine origins!
Address: Piazza degli Strozzi, 50123, Florence, Italy
Best hostels in Santa Croce
Good vibes, comfy beds and friendly staff – Tourist House Santa Croce has it all. This hostel is known for its great value for money and for how easy it is to meet new people, thanks to the cosy common rooms and shared areas.
San Marco – the best area to experience Florence’s nightlife
Santa Marco is a small neighbourhood filled with art and architecture, but more importantly it’s where you’ll find Florence University. This obviously means exchange students, cheap prices and crazy nightlife. Get ready to experience Florence by night!
What to do in San Marco
Another neighbourhood, another cathedral! San Marco is considered one of the most beautiful churches in Florence, but it’s mainly known for the museum, located in the ex-convent. This is notorious for the works of Beato Angelico, like the world-famous Annunciation.
The Accademia Gallery is one of the most visited museums in Italy and it’s where you’ll find the biggest number of Michelangelo sculptures in the world. This is where the famous David is, and not the copy you’ll see in Piazza della Signoria! A part of this museum is also dedicated to historic musical instruments, a must-visit for every music lover.
If you’re into secret attractions, you can’t miss the Chiostro dello Scalzo. This translates to Cloister of the Barefoot, as this is what the person who would carry the cross during religious processions was called. This beautiful hidden gem is completely free, and it’s known for its one of a kind sepia-coloured fresco.
San Marco is where you’ll find the biggest park in Florence, the Gherardesca Gardens. This is a national artistic heritage because of its beautiful English-style lawns.
A little north of San Marco you’ll find Le Cure, which is a mainly residential neighbourhood. This area is known for its street art, especially in the Sottopassaggio Le Cure, a subway that is covered in graffiti from top to bottom.
Places to eat in San Marco
La Ménagère. This place has my complete heart and soul. In a renovated factory style building you can find this bistrot / café / plant store that looks like a Pinterest board come to life. I mean, there’s a lodge inside, and in the lodge there’s a grand piano. The possibilities are endless here, from breakfast to coffee, to aperitivo, to dinner, to happy hour. It’s open till 3 am and often there are jazz shows to accompany the delicious cocktails. Their chai lattes are also to die for. If I could live somewhere for the rest of my life, this would be the place.
Address: Via de’ Ginori 8, 50123, Florence, Italy
Il Vegetariano. If a Canadian girl tells you she would move to Florence for this restaurant alone, you know it’s a good one. This cosy vegetarian spot offers delicious tasting menus and main dishes for very affordable prices. I spent an amazing evening trying out different versions of lasagne (I dream about the fennel one to this day), and vegan cheesecakes on a covered patio in the back. I left feeling wholesome, happy, and ready to come back.
Address: Via delle Ruote 30R, 50129, Florence, Italy
1950 American Diner Firenze. I know what you’re thinking: why would I go to Florence and eat at an American diner? But trust me on this one. I admit I’m biased as I’m a sucker for neon lights and servers on roller skates, but imagine all of this accompanied by delicious Chianina meat burgers with truffle and blue cheese sauce. It’s like if actual good food met the Riverdale aesthetic. Don’t miss out and share a milkshake.
Address: Via Guelfa 43, 50123, Florence, Italy
UnCaffe – Da i’ Sardo. This place is a students’ favourite thanks to its very cheap prices. When you pay €4 for a glass of Prosecco and a truffle filled focaccia, you know you need to come back. The place is small and super laid-back, with different kinds of music playing at all times and mismatched chairs. The walls are covered in paintings and writing, and the entrance is just a small door, so try not to miss it!
Address: Via Cesare Battisti 2, 50121, Florence, Italy
Best hostels in San Marco
This colourful, superhero-themed hostel will make you feel right at home. WoW Florence hostel is the perfect place to relax after a day of exploring and a night of dancing. Book now and get ready to go ‘Wow!’.
Gallo d’Oro is a clean and colourful hostel, but above all, it has free breakfast… and what a breakfast! Freshly squeezed orange juice, fruit salad, sandwiches, homemade cakes made daily and so much more. Wear stretchy pants!
Gavinana – the best area to enjoy Florence’s skyline
Gavinana is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Florence, and it’s actually not part of the First Quarter, but of the Third. It’s located further South-East and includes the suburbs where many people live.
View from Piazzale Michelangelo
What to do in Gavinana
The star of the show in this neighbourhood is Piazzale Michelangelo, the best lookout point in all of Florence. The square is dedicated to Florence’s own Michelangelo, one of the best artists in the history of the Renaissance, and it’s decorated with some reproductions of his best work. At the centre of the square is a bronzed David standing tall, completely identical to the original in marble. The view from the square is truly breathtaking, and you’ll be able to see the famous dome and the Arno running underneath it.
A little fun fact about Piazzale Michelangelo is that the first time I was there I had a very special encounter with… some llamas! My friends and I started laughing hysterically because we were so surprised to turn around and see those furry faces. Apparently there’s a llama breeder in Florence, and he was just taking them for a walk. You truly don’t know what could happen in this city.
As if this incredible lookout point needed to be even more romantic, you can stop at the Rose Garden on your way down. This beautiful garden has Florence at its feet and features hundreds of different blooming roses during May and April. The scent is dreamy and it makes for a pretty good proposal spot, just saying!
As you’re walking uphill towards Piazzale Michelangelo, you’ll find yourself in front of the Rampe dei Poggi, some very impressive fountains that have been recently restored. What’s so special about these fountains is that they’re carved in the side of the hill, and the waterfall-like streams look so natural you may start thinking they are. The Rampe dei Poggi were created by the Florentine architect Giuseppe Poggi and are an example of materism, an artistic movement that tried to steer away from the craziness of Baroque, taking inspiration from nature and matter.
Places to eat in Gavinana
Crepapelle. This fun little place specialises in crepes, from sweet to savoury, and with every kind of filling you may think of, including sweet kebab! It also offers more traditional food like salads and pizzas. Every month they have different themes or challenges that change the menu and always make coming back fun. Do you know what’s really crazy? The whole menu is vegan, but it’s so delicious you won’t even notice.
Address: Via Giampaolo Orsini 55, 50126, Florence, Italy
From vegan to highly meat-based, Vecchia Osteria Del Nacchero is a very traditional restaurant where you’ll be able to taste the classic recipes of Florentine cuisine. From ribollita and pappa al pomodoro, which are soups you’ll only be able to taste in Tuscany, to bean-based dishes and boar meat, this place is everything Florence tastes like. Don’t miss out on the famous Fiorentina, a huge steak that needs to be enjoyed raw, and accompany everything with a nice glass of Chianti wine.
Address: Piazza Gavinana 3R, 50126, Florence, Italy
Best hostels in Gavinana
This small cosy place prides itself on not having many rooms, allowing for a relaxing and personal stay. Particularly good for couples, Villa Alle Rampe will help you live out all of your most romantic Italian dreams.
In between a bed and breakfast and a hostel, Mòsì is one of a kind. Located in an art-nouveau villa and boasting clean and colourful interiors, this place looks like something straight out of Pinterest. Enjoy the modern facilities, the yummy breakfast and the bright common rooms, and fall in love with the very passionate staff and the attention to the details that makes Mòsì stand out from the crowd.
And that’s all ladies and gentlemen. I hope this guide will help you plan your trip to Florence! Let us know in the comments which one of these neighbourhoods you loved the most, and remember to tag us in your Instagram snaps using @hostelworld in the caption! We’d love to see your content and you might have a chance to be featured on our profile too!