Away from the must-sees is the lust-to-see side of Florence,
the true heart of the city for locals
Away from the must-sees is the lust-to-see side of Florence, the true heart of the city for locals.
The Oltrarno area has long been the artisan district of Florence, where craftsman have plied their trade for centuries.
Across the river from the historical city center, the area is comprised of medieval alleyways brimming with boutiques, studios and workshops, contrasted with noble streets lined with historic palaces and opulent antiques stores. These are connected by some of the most picturesque piazzas where locals flock for a pre-dinner drink before heading to one of the small restaurants in the area, many of which are kept secret from even the best guidebooks.
Intermingled amongst these streets, our expert tour guide will reveal the scandalous Medici family secrets hidden behind the austere façades of the Oltrarno palaces.
Depending on guests’ interests, the guide may also point out places to dine amongst the locals, the best piazzas to have a glass of wine before or after dinner and, of course, some great places to purchase traditional artisan crafts and opulent antiques. Guests may also choose if they wish to include a visit to one of the artisan studios of have a wine tasting as the perfect conclusion to this private exploration of the other side of Florence.
Literally translating to “beyond the Arno”, this is the lesser-known historical area of Florence. Noted sites to see in the Oltrarno include the Pitti Palace with its Boboli Gardens, and the Santo Spirito Basilica and Piazza.
The Oltrarno was first inhabited in the late Roman times, albeit only minimally. With an increase in population beginning from the Medieval period, the Florentine community spread out, eventually requiring the expansion of the city walls to also include this newer quarter. Although mostly residential, the area grew to include local artisans, along with accommodation for the many pilgrims passing through.
It was not until the Pitti family built their Palace in the mid-1400s that the more well-to-do began to see the Oltrarno as a potential real estate area. When the Medici family took over the Pitti Palace in the following century, their presence altered the Oltrarno forever.
However, the area has never lost its thriving artisan and arts feel, where traditional handicraft shoemakers, tailors, jewelers, picture framers, book binders, carpenters, watchmakers and more are still in operation.
Being an area where locals like to hang out, there are also many bars and restaurants as well as produce markets and other activities that allow visitors to get a real feel for the real life of locals.
WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO EXPERIENCE
- Visit the true Florence beyond the postcards.
- See medieval cobbled streets contrasted with grand palaces.
- Discover the artistic quarters of Florence, where artisans still ply their traditional trades to this day.
- Hear stories of the scandals that took place in this area.
- Have the guide meet either at the accommodation in Florence or other convenient location at 9.30 am or 3.00 pm upon request.
Signature Italy will select the specific location based on availability. To enter churches, shoulders need to be covered and clothing must cover the tops of knees. For groups of 4 guests or more, audio headsets are included in the cost.