Campo di marte
Strategically located near the city centre, the Campo di Marte neighbourhood spreads out around the train station of the same name, the city’s second major terminus. Welcoming and neatly laid out, this neighbourhood dates back to the early 19th century, when the foundations were laid for its use as a training area for the Tuscan army, which led to its subsequent development as the city’s sporting core. Characterised by elegant leafy streets and charming residential buildings, this neighbourhood has lots of lively shops and businesses and is very well connected to the historic city centre by several bus routes.
It is the ideal neighbourhood for travellers keen to avoid the hustle and bustle of the busier parts in the centre but who still want to have all the city’s major tourist attractions within easy reach.
For those with a car, Campo di Marte is ideal: parking is easy and it is close to the beautiful hills around the city.
Duomo / Piazza della Signoria
The neighborhood that surrounds the Duomo constitutes the very heart of the historical city center and the area has probably one of the highest concentrations of art per square meter on the whole planet: churches, statues, museums, towers, and historical buildings fill every corner of every street. You can't miss Brunelleschi's magnificent dome atop the rosy marble Cathedral.
If you stay here, you're in the vicinity of practically everything: the Uffizi Museums, Palazzo della Signoria, Palazzo Davanzati, Galleria dell’Accademia, Ponte Vecchio. If you are in need of a break after wondering around this architectural and artistic marvels, you can recharge your batteries at one of the cafés on nearby Piazza della Repubblica.
The streets surrounding the Duomo cater to visitors, with fine dining and exclusive shopping. The top Italian fashion houses are located along Via Tornabuoni , with several others on Via Calzaiuoli and Via del Corso. Souvenir shops abound, as do street performers and caricature artists.
This area is, understandably, the central meeting point and the tourist hub of the city. Probably at night, when the tourist groups disappear, you can better appreciate the magical atmosphere of the most romantic heart of pre-Renaissance Florence.
The Gavinana district has a great location on the left bank of the River Arno in southeast Florence, very close to the city centre and well connected with the Autostrada del Sole and the nearby Tuscan countryside. Warm and welcoming, Gavinana is popular with Florentines and tourists alike as a haven from the hustle and bustle of the city, with gems such as the churches of Santa Margherita and Santa Maria a Ricorboli. Full of small shops and business of all kinds, this residential neighbourhood boasts elegant stately buildings and lovely villas with gardens. It is well connected to the centre by several bus routes, meaning you can reach any place of interest in just a few minutes. If you have a car, you’ll find it easy to park and you can visit Lucca, Siena, San Gimignano and many other places nearby in the Tuscan countryside. If you’d rather spend your time shopping, the most exclusive brands can be found in the outlet stores in the area (The Mall and Valdichiana and Barberino Outlet Villages).
The San Frediano neighbourhood is in the Oltrarno quarter on the left bank of the River Arno, home to the Palazzo Pitti, Cappella Brancacci, Ponte Vecchio and the monumental Boboli Gardens, amongst others, all examples of the city’ glorious historical and artistic achievements. The neighbourhood’s narrow streets boast a wide variety of different workshops where traditional manufacturing techniques are still used, as well as bars, restaurants and shops that give off an atmosphere of years gone by. In this neighbourhood of small shops and businesses, you can find stately mansions alongside modest houses, and small family restaurants next to refined temples to international cuisine. At night the streets are thronged by tourists and locals, creating a lively atmosphere. Don’t miss the magical Ponte Vecchio with its lovely jewelleries or the stunning sunsets from the Ponte Santa Trinita!
This lively, busy neighbourhood in Florence is characterised by small local restaurants serving traditional food and good wine, which make it one of the most popular meeting places for young locals.
Located on the left bank of the River Arno, it is famous for the Porta San Niccolò, an old tower built to defend the city, and the panoramic views over some of the city’s major historical and artistic sights.
The narrow, winding streets that follow the river lead to the Piazzale Michelangelo and Forte Belvedere up the historical Le Rampe flight of steps.
Forte Belvedere is a fort on the top of Boboli hill and Piazzale Michelangelo is a square and viewpoint with spectacular views over the whole city and its romantic hills.
Two minutes away from Piazzale Michelangelo, a magnificent flight of steps leads to the spectacular church of San Miniato. Be sure not to miss the famous Giardino delle Rose [Rose Gardens], open all year round, and the Giardino dell’Iris [Iris Gardens], open only in May.
All this and much more, only a few metres from the Ponte Vecchio and a few minutes’ walk from the top attractions in the historic city centre.
A few blocks from the train station and the Duomo lies the San Lorenzo district, the city’s main market area, with scores of stalls encircling a vast food hall. One of the most conveniently located neighborhoods in town, it will envelope you with its lively, vibrant and multicultural atmosphere. Ten minutes towards the Arno and you are right in the middle of town where there is the Duomo, the best shops, bars and clubs. Ten minutes walking towards the hills and you are in quiet area with local shops, the Fortezza del Basso, splendid example of Renaissance architecture, and the Giardino dei Semplici, Florence’s botanical garden.
The centerpiece of this Florence neighborhood is the Basilica di San Lorenzo, one of the largest churches in the city which contains works of Brunelleschi and Michelangelo. Attached to the church is another key sight: the Cappelle Medicee (Medici Chapels) where some members of the Medici family are buried. The Medici also accounts for the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi with its exquisite fresco-covered chapel.
In this area you can also find a wide choice of inexpensive cafes and restaurants thanks to the presence of the San Lorenzo market which provides a focus for cheap trattorias and bars aimed at shoppers and market traders.
Once open countryside beyond the city walls, today the San Marco is a lively and colorful quarter, full of good bars, restaurants. The Mercato Centrale (covered food market) and the huge San Lorenzo market (street market selling clothes, leather and other goods) are just few minutes away.
North of the Duomo, the area is home to Florence’s most celebrated resident – Michelangelo’s David – the original of which resides in the Academia Gallery, certainly a not-to-be missed sight. Other interesting places to visit in the neighborhood are the San Marco church (some of Giotto's works are here) and the Botanical Garden in Via Micheli which provides a tranquil and beautiful green space. The districts offers also other less known but worth-to-visit marvels such as the exquisite mosaics in the Museo dell’Opificio delle Pietre Dure or Italy ‘s most important Etruscan collection in the Museo Archeologico.
The university is also located nearby, which explains the few hipster-inspired bars, shops, and inexpensive restaurants . In the district you can also find excellent bookshops, and fine food and wine outlets. As you head to the northern part of San marco, you will find more peace, quite and a residential feel to the area.
Santa Croce is the eastern edge of the historical center along the Arno river and takes the name from the Florence’s pantheon and one of its most remarkable churches. This neighborhood provide a rare glimpse of workaday Florence – an area few tourist penetrate, with lively markets and tiny workshops .
In addition to the great Santa Croce church and its museum, the other main cultural attractions in this part of the city are the Bargello Palace, which house one of Italy’s most important museum , the Museo Horne, a pleasing collection of art treasures and the Casa Buonarroti, the former home of Michelangelo.
Piazza dei Ciompi is the venue of Mercato delle Pulci, the flea market where you can buy interesting items at modest cost. A short distance to the east, is the Mercato St. Ambrogio, the city centre’s main food market after San Lorenzo. Be aware that the stallholders bring their prices down in the last hour of trading!
You will also find the largest selection of shops, bars and restaurants here. These include the city’s three finest and most expensive restaurants – Cibreo, Pinchiorri and Alle Murate, but also a variety of good mid-price options. By night, this is the liveliest part of town and, with most of its streets pedestrianised and many of the buildings illuminated, the perfect venue for an after-dinner stroll.
Santa Maria Novella
Across the street from the train station, the area around Piazza Santa Maria Novella is perhaps the most varied neighborhood in the city. The urban streets leading to the station are pretty busy (both cars and people) while the other side of the grassy Piazza is formed by narrow, serpentine little streets, beautiful buildings, and top-notch shopping.
The area stretches from the mail railway station, a rare example of the city’s modern architecture to Via Tornabuoni, the city’s prime shopping center. Between these two extremes you will find a mixed bag of attractions. Santa Maria Novella, for example is one of the city’s largest and most prestigious churches, crammed with sacred art; The Santa Trinità church is home to the outstanding fresco cycle by Domenico Ghirlandaio; and the shopping street of Via della Vigna Nuova boasts the lion’s share of Florence’s designers. In other streets such as Borgo Ognissanti you can find an overspill of smarter stores and designer’s ateliers. Artisans’ furniture and other workshops can also be found around Via della Porcellana.
Best of all: you are close to the station but, at the same time, you are in the heart of the city, only a 5-10 minute walk from all the main city monuments, churches and museums.