The Golden Hour (thanks to Sanctuare Press for bringing that term to my attention): the time just after dawn or before sunset when the light is at its best. When you visit Florence, you will probably have many sunsets but how many dawns will you see? I know, I know, you are on holiday and getting up early is the last thing you probably want to do but it will be worth it. Firstly, the place is practically deserted. If you want Florence to yourself, this will be your best chance. You can get great photos around all of the landmarks with just you in them. This simply doesn’t happen any other time. Plus, you will really appreciate your cup of coffee after your dawn stroll. So, set your alarm clock just for one day and see Florence as it once was; you won’t regret it!
This restaurant is just off Piazzale Michelangelo on Via Galileo in Florence and has lovely views of the hills and large houses on the Southern outskirts of the city. It’s slightly more expensive than restaurants in town for the food (a standard pizza is €3 or €4 more than in town) but it’s worth it for the view and location. I’d avoid the soft drinks at €6 each though as that’s a bit steep even for Florence tourist-central.
You can exit the restaurant, turn left and then walk down the steps almost immediately on your left and they will take you down to the heart of San Niccolo. Keep going towards the gate and just before you reach it, there is the Bar “Fuori Porta” or Outside the Gate; perfect for an after lunch/dinner drink!
Eskimo Bar is new this year and it is definitely one for the Undiscovered Florence category. This cool bar is set beside a small man-made beach in the very centre of Florence, just down from the Ponte Vecchio. We got there by bicycle which is a cool way to see the city, especially when the weather is good!
It is a great place to hang out or tan; you usually have to pay for the sun longers (approx 3 Euros) but as it was late in the afternoon, the lady let us have them for free. OK, so we bought two Cokes for 6 Euros but still, this little beach in the center of Florence gets my vote! Some of you will notice that I have put this video in the nightlife category. That’s because, although the video wasn’t taken at night, Eskimo Bar also plays live music in the evenings. At other times there are DJs. The musical focus is South American/Latino mostly.
The Giardino Bardini was only recently opened to the public and the gardens and statues have been beautifully restored. The main entrance is on Via de’ Bardi, just over the road from the Museo Bardini (see Google StreetView below) although the shop and another exit can be found on Costa di San Giorgio. From there, you can walk to Forte di Belevedere* and the Giardino di Boboli for which your ticket is valid. Entrance at the time of writing (August 2009) is 10 Euros.
The Garden is marvellous, especially in the early morning. If you are lucky, you can have the place to yourself (as I did) by going when it opens at 8:15. Be aware that the shop opens at 9 and the cafe doesn’t open until 10. The early morning start is worth it though as the sun hits the terraces and it’s also not too hot for the climb to the top. Once you are up there, if you exit on Costa di San Giorgio (turn left and follow the signs) you can walk a short distance to the Giardino di Boboli and you enter at the top; it’s all downhill after that!
*Unfortunately, a young woman lost her life at the Fort and it is now closed until it the investigation has completed
Florence Attractions, Florence Videos, Nightlife, Piazze, Things to do in Florence, Undiscovered Florence
Las Palmas Bar is open in the summer and has been running in Piazza Ghiberti in the east of Florence since 2001. There’s music most evenings and unlike a lot of more touristy places the aperitivo is free if you buy a drink; hold on to your receipt though because they’ll ask for it before you get a plate!
On Tuesday night there was Jazz, which was an ideal soundtrack as the place started to fill up with locals. Like the other places in my “Undiscovered Florence” category, I only heard Italian spoken and that’s a good sign! You can find a full listing of what’s happening at the official site (in Italian)
A beautiful old villa with two outside bars and a swimming pool is something you would assume that you have to drive out to Chianti to see. But on Thursday night, I met up with some locals at Pavoniere in Florence. It’s just a 10 minute taxi ride or 30 minute walk along the Arno in the setting sun of the evening. Amongst trees and opposite the Hippodrome (or horse track) you could be in the countryside. In fact it is so well hidden that you could drive on by without realising that a drink, food and a free swim is just the other side of the fence.
This has to be one of the Top Undiscovered Things in Florence; the only language I heard all night was Italian. The locals know it’s a great place for an evening out and now you do too!