You asked, and I am answering. I wrote an article about Florence a few months back, and it has been of the most popular (so far) on Artsy Travels. Many people came at me asking for further information and tips, so I decided to put together a proper itinerary for all of you contemporary art lovers visiting Florence.
From morning to night, I will guide you through my city and make you discover all the best places to enjoy contemporary art. Are you ready to explore?
And if you want personalized itineraries and tips, just drop me a message and I will be happy to help you out!
9 a.m. – Breakfast & museums
When it comes to breakfast, I proudly choose the Italian option: cappuccino and cornetto (or croissant), preferably warm. There is nothing better than starting your day with a delicious breakfast, and with all the walking ahead of you, you will surely burn out the calories from all those sugars.
I recommend starting your day in Piazza della Repubblica: choose one of the historic cafes, sit down at one of the outside tables and enjoy the square before it is packed with tourists.
Your first stop for the day is a museum. You have different options and they are all close by, so if you are eager to squeeze in more than one, you can easily do so before lunchtime. Head over to Palazzo Strozzi for great temporary exhibitions (piazza Strozzi – opens at 10 a.m.) and spend some time enjoying the architecture of the palace as well as the exhibits on show.
You can also try Museo Novecento (Piazza Santa Maria Novella – opens at 11 a.m.). Dedicated to the art of the XX century, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions as well as a permanent collection. They usually have interesting displays and you can easily pair it with a visit to the Santa Maria Novella church and complex right on the other side of the square, for a more traditional artsy experience.
If you are visiting over the weekend, you can also include Marino Marini Museum in your itinerary. Dedicated entirely to the artist’s production, the museum is hosted in a former church and exhibits sculptures, studies, and various other smaller pieces by the artist. It is a small museum, so pair the visit with one of the above-mentioned ones. Don’t forget to visit the astounding Cappella Rucellai, inside the museum, designed by Leon Battista Alberti in 1457.
1 p.m. – Lunch time and gallery hopping
Cross the Arno river at the end of Via Tornabuoni (just steps away from Palazzo Strozzi or the Marino Marini Museum) and head over to Piazza della Passera. One of the hottest spots in Florence, it is the right place to meet with locals and tourists alike.
The small square has grown in popularity over the last few years, and now has a bunch of different options for you to enjoy a meal, from breakfast to dinner. If you happen to be here over lunch, the options are many and all delicious. You can opt for a more traditional lunch at Trattoria 4 Leoni, or opt for the vegetarian and vegan options of 5ecinque restaurant. If you are looking for a lighter lunch, you can opt for the delicious ice cream of Gelateria Della Passera, or head to Ditta Artigianale (via dello Sprone). This cafe is one of my favorites in Florence and has different options, from bowls and smoothies to sandwiches and salads. Don’t forget to try their coffees, they have an impressive selection of different blends!
Once you are all restored and ready to go, head over to Via Maggio. The first stop for you is gonna be Cartavetra (Via Maggio 64R), a small gallery, and workshop working with both local and international artists. Walk down Via Maggio towards the river, and pop inside the many design, vintage, and antique stores, as well as local galleries. When you reach the end of Via Maggio, across the river again, and head to Aria Art Gallery (Borgo Santi Apostoli, 40r), a small gallery in a secluded garden, offering exhibitions by interesting young artists.
The next stop is Eduardo Secci Contemporary Art (Piazza Goldoni, 2), one of my favorite galleries in Florence. Just walk along the river soaking in the beauty of the city, and once you reach Piazza Goldoni, the gallery is located on your right, on the ground floor of a stunning ancient building. Take some time to visit their exhibitions and feel free to ask the staff for further information, they are always super friendly and very welcoming.
6 p.m. – Wrapping up in style
Now that you have visited all the contemporary art the center of Florence has to offer, you have two options.
If you prefer narrow streets and little, old squares, you can head over to the San Niccolò area. Otherwise, get on a taxi, or rent a bike (or a scooter) and head over to Manifattura Tabacchi.
In any way, congratulations! You just unlocked Florence’s best-kept secrets.
Far from the overly touristic destinations, San Niccolò is a quaint and relaxed area. Visit Base / Progetti per l’arte and just end your day with an aperitivo. The options are endless: you can choose one of the many small bars, most of them with nice little tables outside, or head to the riverside bar right by the Arno. Enjoy the sunset over Florence and choose a restaurant in the area to end your day, before climbing up to Piazzale Michelangelo and marveling at Florence by night.
The other option is Manifattura Tabacchi (Via delle Cascine, 35). A little away from the city center, here you are guaranteed to meet with local people. Manifattura Tabacchi is such an interesting project: still in development, the whole is currently being renovated and turned into an avant-garde neighborhood. What once used to be a tobacco industry, now is a hub for arts and creativity, with bars, artists’ studios, galleries, and fashion schools, as well as a museum, public art, an open-air movie theater in summer, and a lot more.
You can reach Manifattura Tabacchi in 10 to 15 mins by taxi from the center, and you can also get there by bus or by bike (the Mobike free-flow bikes can be rented with an app). Start your visit with the Spazio VEDA gallery, then head to NAM – Not a Museum, and peek inside Toast Project Space. Then relax at the bar inside the Giardino della Ciminiera, sipping a drink over the beautiful artwork by Italian street artist Andreco, painted on the ground. You can also visit local designers and their studios and boutiques, to find the perfect artsy gifts and souvenirs, and if you are here in summer, there are a couple of street food trucks where you can grab dinner.
And if I have more than one day?
Well, in that case, your options are endless. You can visit other spaces around town or head outside of Florence for some more contemporary art. If you are visiting Florence as part of a longer trip to Tuscany, we also have an itinerary for you.
And if you want a more personalized itinerary, feel free to shoot me a message. I will be happy to help you create the perfect itinerary, check opening hours, check and reserve the tours, and give you all my tips and favorite spots to visit. You can reach me via message here.
Cover image by Giuseppe Mondì on Unsplash
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