Florence is overflowing with stunning history and culture; the allure is never-ending. If you are after something slightly unusual and off the tourist map, we have selected some genuinely unique sites to see. From stunning grottos to delightful old businesses, there is something for everyone to love in our list of hidden gems. Make the most of our fantastic list on your next break while staying in one of our stunning luxury holiday villas in Tuscany.
This breathtaking grotto is a stunning little gem, situated in the charming Boboli Gardens. Its appeal comes from the beautiful sculptures that line the inside, making it a truly extraordinary sight to behold.
The interior of the grotto is divided into three sections. Upon arrival, you will notice the beautiful carvings by Pietro Mati, which were designed to create the illusion of a natural grotto with ornate structures growing from within such as stones and shells. The final room is truly memorable, as a striking green marble fountain acts as a centrepiece. If you look up, you will notice the delicately painted ceiling taking form as the sky.
The Vasari Corridor is a rather unusual attraction, with an exciting history. Acting as an overground passage, it was created in 1564 for two reasons by order of Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici. Ultimately it was a practical way for the Duke to move safely between offices and home, but it was built in the honour of the Duke’s son. You may notice the row of panoramic windows, which were implemented by Benito Mussolini in honour of a visit by Adolf Hitler during the 40s. They were introduced so both dictators could admire the scenery of the river Arno together. In more recent years, it now connects the Uffizi Gallery with the Palazzo Vecchio.
Medici Hall of Maps (Sala delle Carte Geografiche)
The original idea for this was envisioned by Giorgio Vasari when he began refurbishing the grand old Palazzo della Signoria, which is also referred to as the Palazzo Vecchio. Vasari was responsible for designing grand rooms of the palace in line with the expectations of ornate, Renaissance Italy. He desired two large globes to descend from the ceiling in the ‘new storage room,’ a recent interior concept at that time. You can see his idea in the Hall of Maps, situated on the second floor. Here you will find a total of 53 maps on cabinets, amongst other stunning geographical works of art. One globe created by Danto resides in the centre of the room, and the second did not reach production. It does not hover below the ceiling but instead rests on a specially made base.
Sacred Doors Cemetery
This cemetery resides in one of the most peaceful and atmospheric locations. Nestled just behind the distinctive church of San Miniato al Monte, this cemetery was introduced during the 19th-century for all citizens of the city. It offers the most idyllic views of the city and must be visited in order to understand its captivation. An open-air museum also features on the site and is delightfully decorated with charming architecture and statues. The beautiful, private tombs should be viewed, as each varies in classic styles throughout the centuries. A notable grave is that of the author of Pinocchio, Carlo Collodi amongst other famous Italians.
Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy
Estimated as the oldest, functioning pharmacy across the globe, this charming pharmacy will be a unique and insightful addition to your break in Florence. The building itself is beautiful, decorated with marble floor, intricate gilding, stained-glass windows and frescoes. It originated from the early 13th-century when Dominican monks began creating balms and medicines from locally grown herbs. Their creations were so well regarded that by the 1600s, the pharmacy was used by the public. Some of the ingredients and methods of production are still carried out today. An intriguing remedy to look out for is the ‘Seven Thieves Vinegar’, labelled ‘Aceto dei Sette Ladri’. These strong smelling salts are named after seven men who stole corpses during the plague epidemic. The potent vinegar odorant was used as protection against the plague. The soaps are another highlight, be sure to purchase a violet soap which smells divine.
Hopefully, we have inspired you to delve even deeper amongst the charming streets of beautiful Florence. If you require some more unique spots for the evening, our blog, 5 Unmissable Sunset Spots in Florence can provide you with some unforgettable and romantic locations.
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