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20 Hidden Gems in Florence to see off the beaten path

20 Things to See in Florence Off the Beaten Path

Indice Contenuti

What comes to your mind when you think of Florence, Italy? Is it the stunning Florence Cathedral and the famous Uffizi Gallery? Or is it the nearby Palazzo Vecchio? Whatever it is, Florence is internationally recognized for its art, history, beauty (and incredible restaurants). But as a local, let me tell you the truth: there is much more to Florence than what meets the eye. Beyond everything lies Florence off the beaten path – with the many attractions that are often overlooked.
In this blog post, we will explore all the things to do in Florence off the beaten path and discover its hidden gems that wait for the curious traveler.

Perseus With Head of Medusa

Perseus With Head of Medusa Florence

‘Perseus with the Head of Medusa' is what comes as the top among Florence's off the beaten path attractions. It is located in Piazza della Signoria, along with Michelangelo's David and Bandinelli's Hercules. However, it receives very little attention in Florence. But once you set your eyes on it, it's enticing! ‘Perseus with the Head of Medusa' was created by sculptor Benvenuto Cellini under the commission of Duke Cosimo I de Medici. In truth, it represents Duke Cosimo I's power, as he severed the “Head of the Republic” making it one of the most significant bronze sculptures in existence.

The Nuisance by Michelangelo

nuisance michelangelo florence

Michelangelo's works can be found in Florence at the Uffizi Gallery, the Academia Gallery, the Dumo Museum, and the Palazzo Vecchio. However, there is one more hidden gem in Florence – Michelangelo's Nuisance! Many people overlook it because it is nearly buried away in the Palazzo Vecchio. As a local, I have heard the backstory many times. So, a certain man bothered Michelangelo every day, so he decided to carve that man's face into the wall as graffiti! There may be a truth to it because a painting by Michelangelo that looks like the same carved face can be found at the Louvre Museum.

The Boboli Gardens

Boboli gardens florence

The Boboli Gardens, located just behind the Pitti Palace, are another one of the hidden gems in Florence. It was established in the 16th century BC by the Medici family. The Boboli Gardens are one of the earliest and most significant examples of an Italian garden, which later provided a model for many European courts. The Gardens also feature grottos, the most notable being the one created by Bernardo Buontalenti, as well as phenomenal fountains like the Fountain of Neptune.

Pitti Palace

Palazzo Pitti Florence 1

Pitti Palace, often known as the Palazzo Pitti by Florentines, is a Renaissance palace in Florence. The Pitti Palace is historically significant because the Medici family purchased it in the 16th century BC to use as their main residence palace. Today, the Pitti Palace is divided into five museums: the Museum of Russian Icons, The Treasury of the Grand Dukes, the Imperial & Royal Apartments, the Palatine Gallery, the Museum of Costume & Fashion, and the Gallery of Modern Art.

Church of Santa Margherita dei Cerchi

santa margherita dei cerchi church in florence

The small Church of Santa Margherita dei Cerchi is not as ornate as the other churches in Florence, yet it is worth noting for its history. Records show that this is where the poet Dante first met both his wife, Gemma Di Manetto Donati, and his lover, Beatrice. That is why locals refer to it as Dante's Church! Dante fell in love with Beatrice after seeing her a couple of times as a child in this church. She was, however, already married to Simone dei Bardi. Beatrice is also credited with inspiring Dante's masterpieces such as Vita Nuova and the Divine Comedy. Dante later married Gemma Di Manetto Donati in this same church when he was only 20 years old.

Clet Street Art

clet art street florence

Discovering Clet Street Art is another one of the off the beaten path things to do in Florence. For those who are unfamiliar with Clet, he is a French street artist residing in Florence. He has been exhibiting his work since 1996. Clet is well-known for his one-of-a-kind street art, which he places on road signs! So, you may have seen (but missed) his work in places all across the world, from Florence to New York City. What makes Clet's art so unique is how he manages to merge effortlessly into the urban scene. That is why if you don’t look closely enough, you might even miss these amazing pieces!

Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy

florence santa maria novella pharmacy

The Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy, the world's oldest pharmacy, is located near the Church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. The history of this pharmacy is quite interesting, as it was originally constructed as a Dominican Convent! The monks in this convent used medical herbs and other natural ingredients to treat those within its walls, but word quickly traveled to other parts of Italy and beyond the world. Santa Maria Novella's products, particularly perfumes, date back to the early 13th century BC! It is also where Caterina de' Medici got her “Acqua della Regina” perfume, which translates as “The Queen's Water.” Even now, you can buy it under the same name, along with over 800+ products.

Il Porcellino

porcellino florence

Another popular Florence off the beaten path attraction is Il Porcellino, also known as the “Little Pig” by locals. It's actually a bronze boar in Piazza del Mercato Nuovo, not a pig. It was created by Pietro Tacca by duplicating a Hellenistic-era marble boar. This adorable pig was initially created to be added to a fountain in the Boboli Gardens, but it was eventually moved to its current location! Many travelers would slip a coin into the boar's mouth to let it fall through the underlying grating for good luck, and then massage the boar's snout hoping for a return to Florence. This practice has kept Il Porcellino's snout shiny while the rest of its body has faded to a dull-brown green.

Medici’s Silver Works Museum

florence santa maria novella pharmacy

The Silver Works Museum (Museo degli Argenti) is also known as the “Medici Treasury” because of the various valuables on display, including jewelry, gems, cameos, semi-precious stones, and ivory, that show the lavish lifestyles of the Medici and Lorraine families. So, while you are at the Pitti Palace (left wing), make sure to visit this museum.

Sacred Doors Cemetery

sacred doors cemetery florence

Visiting Sacred Doors Cemetery is another one of the best things to do in Florence off the beaten path. You can enjoy one of Florence's most magnificent views here. The cemetery also functions as an open-air museum, featuring sculptures and incredible medieval architecture. Carlo Lorenzini, better known as Carlo Collodi, the writer of Pinocchio, is perhaps the most famous of the people buried here.

Hospital of the Innocents

Hospital of the Innocents Florence

The Hospital of the Innocents was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, the father of Renaissance architecture. Children who had been abandoned by their parents were admitted to the hospital and taught writing and reading by well-educated teachers. Today, several artworks by famous artists such as Domenico Ghirlandaio, Piero di Cosimo, Sandro Botticelli, and Beato Angelio can be found here. The finest of these is Domenico Ghirlandaio's beautiful painting “The Adoration of the Magi” created for the Hospital church.

La Berta

la berta florence

A petrified head can be seen on the wall of Santa Maria Maggiore Church. It is said to belong to a Florentine lady named Berta. Although we do not know the origins of this Florence hidden gem, people have come up with the strangest stories. It revolves around Cecco d'Ascoli, an astrologer on his way to being burned at the stake for heresy. Breta apparently instructed everyone to refuse Cecco d'Ascoli a drink because she felt Cecco d'Ascoli could connect with the devil using water, and then ask for immunity. Angered by this, Cecco d'Ascoli cursed Berta, trapping her on those walls!

Piazza dei Ciompi Flea Market

Florence piazza ciompi market

The oldest flea market in Florence is the Piazza dei Ciompi. So, if you enjoy antiques, this is one of the best things to do in Florence off the beaten path. You never know what you will find here, including books, furniture, art, handmade items, vintage clothing, ornaments, and much more. Although it is a local activity, it is becoming increasingly popular among travelers to Florence as well, thanks to its lively atmosphere.

The Gucci Museum

gucci museum florence 1

The Gucci Museum in Florence (currently Gucci Garden) opened in 2011 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the famous clothing brand. It records the story of Gucci, from its humble beginnings in the city of Florence to its current status as the world's best-selling Italian brand. The museum is housed in the historic Palazzo della Mercanzia (Merchandise Palace) at Piazza della Signoria.

Rose Garden

rose garden in florence

Another one of the hidden gems in Florence is the Rose Garden. It is located beneath Piazzale Michelangelo, overlooking the city, and offers a wonderful vantage point accompanied by more than 300 rose species! In addition to roses, it is well-known for its Japanese Garden and the 12 exquisite sculptures by Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon.

Galileo Galilei's finger

Galileo Galilei finger Florence

Galileo Galilei's finger that is on display at the Museo di Storia del Scienza is another one of the most popular Florence off the beaten path attractions! While it may appear to be the most unusual thing to see, don't pass up this opportunity. According to records, Anton Francesco Gori removed Galileo's finger from his body on March 12, 1737. It was moved to the Museo di Storia del Scienza in 1927 after being displayed in many places. Experts claim Galileo Galilei's finger “exemplifies the celebration of Galileo as a hero and martyr of science.”

Brancacci Chapel

brancacci chapel florence

The Brancacci Chapel includes some of the greatest art from the Renaissance, painted in collaboration by Masaccio and Masolino between 1425 and 1427. The most prominent are Masolino's Adam and Eve in the Earthly Paradise, Original Sin, and the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Earthly Paradise. Although it is sometimes overlooked and not easily found because it is located in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, I believe it is a true hidden gem in Florence because of its artistic merit!

Palazzo Davanzati

palazzo davanzati florence

Make a stop at the Palazzo Davanzati if you wish to explore a typical Florentine home and travel back in time to the 14th century BC. The Davanzati family purchased Palazzo Davanzati in 1578 and held it until 1838. It was purchased and refurbished in 1904 by antique dealer Elia Volpi, and he presented it to the public in 1910 as the Museum of the Old Florentine House. Today, the soothing ambiance of a typical Florentine home can be seen in its furniture, ceramics, and household items like cabinets, spinning wheels, paintings, and artwork.

The Jewish Synagogue

sinagogue florence

The Jewish Synagogue and Museum, with its famous green dome that draws people in like no other dome, is another must-see Florence off the beaten path attraction! The Jewish Synagogue was opened in 1882, and today it is an essential part of the Jewish community in Florence. You can also visit the Jewish Museum, which houses exquisite Jewish ceremonial objects, jewelry, textiles, and furniture from the 16th century BC.

Laurentian Library

laurentian library florence

The Laurentian Library is the Medici family's library and was designed by Michelangelo. It houses one of the world's most valuable collections of ancient manuscripts (11,000 manuscripts) as well as 4,500 early printed books. Although there isn't much to see here, the main attraction is Michelangelo's exquisite Renaissance-style reading room. The stairway leading up to the reading room is also a work of art, and is regarded as one of the most unique designs in the world!

So, what are your thoughts on the Florence off the beaten path activities? Well, I believe it's all worthwhile. They provide a different picture of Florence away from crowds and usual routines. So, the next time you are in Florence, choose the path with hidden gems because that is where you can appreciate the little things in Florence!


Ciao a tutti! Sono un travel blogger appassionato di viaggi, informatica, marketing e design. Amo esplorare il mondo, condividere consigli e racconti coinvolgenti sul mio blog per ispirare le persone a viaggiare e creare ricordi indimenticabili. Seguitemi in questa avventura piena di scoperte!