How to Get Off the Beaten Path in Florence
While Florence’s medieval center offers a welcome break from the modern world, the city's museums and Renaissance palaces draw 21st-century crowds. Spend less time waiting in line at these under-the-radar attractions, and discover some unexpected surprises along the way.
Museo del Bargello
Instead of jockeying for prime viewing positions at the Accademia or Uffizi with everyone else, get your sculpture fix at this lesser-known Palazzo del Podesta, a treasure trove of Renaissance art. You won't feel rushed while browsing galleries that exhibit works by the likes of Michelangelo and Donatello.
See what's on at this reimagined Medici palace, which hosts exhibitions that range from classical music, live theater, Renaissance retrospectives, and contemporary art shows. The building itself is a work of art, and there’s rarely a line to get in.
The gardens of this medieval villa provide green space to relax in a mostly stone city. Views from here rival those of the popular Piazzale Michelangelo, but you're likely to share the space with only a few other visitors. Plus, the same admission ticket grants you access to the neighboring Boboli Gardens behind Palazzo Pitti.
Basilica di Santo Spirito
Don't be fooled by the unassuming exterior of this church, which was built by Brunelleschi of Duomo fame. Basilica di Santo Spirito is adorned with priceless frescoes and altarpieces, including an early crucifix by Michelangelo. It's a short walk from the Ponte Vecchio but nestled in the quieter Oltrarno district, home to fewer crowds.
Escape the city altogether on a day trip to the Tuscan countryside, which typically stop at the UNESCO World Heritage-listed hill town of San Gimignano. Get lost in a maze of medieval streets or climb more than 200 steps for view of Tuscany’s Elsa Valley.