The historic and happening Oltrarno, which sits on the opposite side of the Arno River from the Duomo, the Uffizi, and the Accademia, is one of Florence’s most dynamic neighborhoods. Home to the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, the quarter is also known for its artisan workshops, restaurants and wine bars, and nightlife.
In addition to the Medici’s magnificent Palazzo Pitti, there are a number of other important sights in the Oltrarno, including Brunelleschi’s Santo Spirito Basilica and the church of Santa Maria del Carmine (home to the Brancacci Chapel, frescoed by Filippino Lippi). One of the most memorable views in Florence is from Piazzale Michelangelo, a scenic square set in the hills above this bustling neighborhood, where crowds gather each evening to watch the sunset.
The best way to enjoy both the culture and cuisine of the Oltrarno is by joining a walking tour that explores its attractions and culinary scene. Many tours of the Oltrarno include highlights paired with food or wine tastings, often scheduled for sunset to enjoy the view over Florence. Another interesting option is a private tour that visits the neighborhood’s artisans and workshops, where you can learn about the local handicrafts firsthand.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Walking tours of the Oltrarno are mostly outdoors, so be sure to wear sunscreen and a hat in summer.
- You will be doing a considerable amount of walking to explore the neighborhood, so choose comfortable footwear.
- Churches require modest attire that covers knees and shoulders.
- Some churches and monuments in the Oltrarno are not accessible to wheelchairs, and much of the historic center is paved with cobblestones.
How to Get There
The Oltrarno is located just across the Arno River from the Uffizi Gallery; to reach this historic neighborhood, simply walk across the famous Ponte Vecchio.
When to Get There
Florence is one of the most visited cities in Italy, and even the quiet Oltrarno can be crowded in the high-season summer months. Plan your tour for the spring or fall, when the weather is mild but the streets are less overrun.
Piazzale Michelangelo: The Best View in Florence
Piazzale Michelangelo, set on a hillside in the Oltrarno, is the most famous scenic overlook in Florence, offering sweeping views over the city’s rooftops. From this 19th-century square, the panorama stretches from the Ponte Vecchio to the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, across the Duomo and bell tower, and to the Tuscan hills beyond.