Vacation in Florence: Things to see and do

Vacation in Florence: Things to see and do
While most residents in Florence leave the city for summer break, the city is still lively and there is a plethora of things to do and see. My last trip to the famed Italian city of culture gave me some ideas for you to make the most of summer in Florence.

Summer in Florence, Italy: 7 things to do and see

1. Boboli Gardens and Giardino Bardini

Start the day early by visiting the Boboli Gardens that sit behind the Pitti Palace, and served as an inspiration for many gardens in Europe. Commissioned by the Medici family in the 16th century, this sprawling 11-acre park featuring fountains, grottos, and statues is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Boboli Gardens, Florence | By Paolo Villa (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Paolo Villa (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

While here don’t miss the Porcelain Museum (included in the ticket to Boboli Gardens) housed in the 18th century Palazzina del Cavaliere on top of the Boboli hill and until October 29, 2017, you’ll also find sculptures from the Helidon Xhixha exhibition on display throughout the grounds.

The ticket to the Boboli Gardens also includes access to Giardino Bardini, a gorgeous gem that is lesser known. The lush and tranquil setting with a fabulous view of Florence from the Belvedere terrace makes the climb up well worth it.

2. Urban beach on the Arno

Urban beach on the Arno is brilliant initiative allowing residents and visitors to make the most of summer in Florence. There’s everything for just about everyone: free beach deckchairs and umbrellas if you prefer to sit back and unwind and for those looking for more action, there are beach sports as well yoga at sunset.

The beach is open from 10.00am and at night, it plays hosts to concerts. One event to keep in mind is the sand castle competition on August 15.

3. Gelato

With the sweltering summer heat, there is no better excuse for gelato! One of our favorite gelateria is Gelateria della Passera in the Oltrarno neighborhood. A tiny space situated at the corner of Piazza della Passera, it would be a mistake to dismiss this award-winning gelateria that won the Florence Gelato Award in 2015.

Gelateria della Passera | | Florence Food Tour | BrowsingItaly.com

While you can find classic flavors, those looking for more creative concoction won’t be disappointed. The owner is known as the ice alchemist and have come up with interesting combinations such as the Monna Lisa, a mix of crema, apple sauce, orange blossom, cognac, soaked raisins and walnuts.

Here is a link to more gelato places in Florence.

4. Operas and concerts

The summer season of the Opera of Florence held in the courtyard of Palazzo Pitti features operas, concerts, and dance performances. The season ends this week with the opera Barber of Seville.

For a more intimate setting, head to St. Mark’s Church for the “Love Duets”, where two opera singers will perform duets and arias from “La Traviata”, “La Boheme”, “The Marriage of Figaro” to name a few. Visit this website for more details as well as ticket prices and programme.

If you are willing to head out of town to Fiesole, the Estate Fiesolana celebrates its 70th anniversary with about 30 performances taking place in the striking Roman Theater, with the last performance on July 28, 2017.

5. Boat ride on the Arno

Take in Florence from a different perspective with a boat ride on the Arno river at sunset. From May until the end of September, the “I Rinaioli” association offers rides on traditional boats that were once used to transport sand dugged from the riverbed by the rinaioli (the origin of their name comes from “rena” meaning sand).

Summer in Florence | Boat ride on the Arno at sunset

The boat ride lasts about 45 minutes and starts at Piazza Mentana taking you past renowned sites such as the Uffizi Gallery, Vassari Corridor, Ponte Vecchio, and Ponte Santa Trinita.

Contact them directly to request an English guide on board and the price. You will need to provide them with the number of people in your group as well as the preferred time for the boat ride, and we would recommend at sunset.

6. Tuesday evenings at the Uffizi

Every Tuesdays through to September 26, 2017 the Uffizi has extended opening hours until 9.50pm. During these extended hours, the #UffiziLive Festival of Performing Arts offers concerts, theater and dance performances held in the rooms starting at 7pm. It’s a unique experience that allows you to enjoy the masterpieces in the museum along with the various performances.

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7. Aperitivo time

Boasting one of the most splendid views of Florence, head to La Terrazza Bar at Hotel Continentale for aperitivo. This elegant and chic roof top bar, situated on the top of the medieval Torre dei Consorti, is open daily from 4pm to midnight.

Enjoy a refreshing drink from their extensive menu ranging from signature cocktails such as Americano Patrizio (Campari, Martini Rubino, chinotto, and citrus bitter) to alcohol free drinks like Exotic Passion (mango, passion fruit, cranberry), while taking in the view of Brunelleschi’s dome, Ponte Vecchio and the Arno River. It doesn’t get more magical than this.

La Terrazza Bar, Hotel Continentale | Summer in Florence

Bonus

On August 10, the Feast of San Lorenzo, make your way to Piazza San Lorenzo to enjoy an evening celebration outdoors with live music and free food. The event starts at 7pm and food is served at around 9pm.

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