Florence, Off the Beaten Path
Let me begin by explaining that I use the term “non-tourist” loosely. “Less touristy” would be more apt considering what a huge travel destination Florence has always been. The main attractions of the city are awe inspiring and should be seen but sometimes a little peace and quite is needed to truly appreciate what you are viewing. There is no shortage of things to do in Florence but I will be sharing my top 3 attractions where you won’t have to fight the crowds who are trying to get the perfect selfie.
Fiesole is one of the 5 most ancient sites in Tuscany. It dates back to the 8th century BC, where it was an Etruscian settlement. Entrance to the main site cost as low as 7 euro and includes the a well preserved Roman theater, an Etruscian-Roman temple, and Roman baths. You can even sit on the hill where Leonardo da Vinci once conducted his flight experiments. If you face the church “Chiesa di Santa Maria Primerana” in Piazza Mino da Fiesole, walk uphill on Via Giuseppe Verdi and you will come across a spectacular view of Florence in its entirety.
San Miniato Al Monte
This Basilica built in 1013 houses the bones of St. Minias, who is thought to have been a Persian prince who was the first Christian martyr in Florence. The structure is one of the highest points in the city and is surrounded by old defensive walls built by Michelangelo during the siege of 1529. It is adjoined to an Olivetani monastery where at 17:30 you can hear the Gregorain chants performed by the monks. Just a three-minute walk from Piazzale Michelangelo, this location has nowhere near the amount of people and has the same view of the city but from a higher vantage point. If you find yourself looking for a view of Florence, do yourself a favor and avoid the crowds.
Forte di Belvedere
Commisioned by the Grand Duke Ferinando l de’ Medici in 1590 in an area that was previously considering a military weak point. The strategic placement of the fort makes for one of the best views of the entire city of Florence to this day. The grounds are sometimes home to art exhibitions, most recently by Gino de Dominicis and the giant sculture “Calamita Cosmica”. You can walk through the same grounds that were used by Galileo Galilei for his astronomical observations. A small walk down the road from the fort is Villa Arcetri, where Galileo lived after he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
There are so many gems you can find walking the streets of Florence. We have many more places to discover and write about but the three I’ve mentioned have amazing views and are generally pretty empty. Take the path less traveled and enjoy yourself in beautiful Firenze.