11 Completely Free Things to do in Florence
The economic downturn in Italy and in many countries in Europe should not make us forget that we live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, capable to offer many sight seeing, cultural and natural opportunities even at no cost. Although we are in a time when even low-cost services can seem too expensive, we don’t have to lose heart but to align ourselves with the new no-cost trend. At first, it seemed an impossible task to find ‘something’ in Florence that was completely free of charge; ‘something’ that could give more appeal to your stay without affecting your budget too much. However, thanks to some tips and to some phone calls we have sought out some bits that will make your stay chic & cheap.
Save your euros and stay at our Florence hostels
1) LOCAL MARKETS IN FLORENCE
A stroll through the local markets does not really cost anything but always gives a wave of joy to your day. Here is a wide selection of typical Florentine markets.
• SAN LORENZO MARKET: it extends from Piazza S. Lorenzo to Ariento Street, all around the Basilica of San Lorenzo (in the historic center of Florence). It is the most important market of the city where you will find clothing, leather goods, souvenirs, local food products and much more. It is open every day except on Sundays and Mondays.
• SANT’AMBROGIO MARKET: it is set up in Piazza Ghiberti and Piazza Sant’Ambrogio. It has an indoor and an outdoor space where you will find fresh fruit, vegetables, clothes, flowers, shoes and appliance stalls. Are you looking for food? Enter then, and you will find meat or fresh fish, pasta, general groceries and good cheese. And if you get hungry try the restaurant inside the market, very good and cheap. The market is open every weekend (except Sunday) from 7 to 14.
• MERCATO DELLE CASCINE (Farmstead market): it is located in the beautiful Parco delle Cascine (the largest park in Florence) and it is open every Tuesday morning from 7 to 14. It’s probably the biggest and cheapest market in town! And after shopping do not forget to take a walk through the park.
• MERCATO DELLE PULCI (Flea market): the famous ‘flea market’ is located in Piazza dei Ciompi and it is open daily from 9 to 19.30. Last Sunday of each month the stalls are also extended in the surrounding streets and you will find whatever you can imagine. Here you can find any furniture, paintings, antique coins and jewelry. You can also find real treasures and many antiques at affordable price. It is well worth it for a spin … you will feel like going back in time.
• THE FIERUCOLINA “The Fierucolina” is an organic market that promotes organic farming and biodynamic agriculture, with food, wine and handmade bio-manufactured products. It takes place every third Sunday of the month (except August) in Santo Spirito Square (Oltrarno). And if you have time (and we recommend that you find it) do not miss also:
• THE CURE MARKET, Piazza delle Cure, every morning except Sunday and bank holidays;
• THE PIGGY MARKET, Florentine straw objects, handmade embroideries, leather goods, wooden objects, flowers. Address: Piazza del Mercato Nuovo, from 8.00 to 19.00 every day except Sunday and Monday morning;
• THE STRAW MARKET, Piazza del Mercato Nuovo, from 9.00 to 18.30 every day except Sunday and holidays;
• THE MARKET OF RARE BOOKS, Loggia del Grano, from Thursday to Saturday, from 10 to 18;
• THE FLOWER MARKET, under the porch of Piazza della Repubblica, every Thursday morning from 10 to 19.
For further information please get in touch with Florence tourist office (all details at the end of this article).
2) PIAZZALE MICHELANGELO FOR PANORAMIC VIEWS
Looking for the perfect Florentine photo opportunity? Hike up to this large plaza located at the top of a hill above Piazza Poggi to the south of the river Arno. In the centre of the piazzale is a terrace – an ideal spot to spend time soaking up the incredible vistas of the city, a dreamy skyline of duomos and spires worthy of any postcard. Of course, you have all the prerequisite vendors selling tourist items, and you can also reach this lookout by bus if you’re feeling a bit lazy, but that removes the free element.
3) FLORENCE FREE WALKING TOUR
This tour is the original walking tour of Florence. It is FREE, no fee is applied.
It is arranged by local professional guides working on a tips-only basis (and your generosity will allow them to continue this beautiful service).
They offer 2 daily tours starting from the Central Railway Station (Santa Maria Novella): you will be able to choose between the Renaissance Tour and Medici Family Tour (or both, of course).
See the map and find more details on www.florencefreetour.com
4) THURSDAY EVENING: INVITATION TO THE PALACE
Strozzi Palace is the perfect example of Renaissance mansion and appears like a small fortress in the heart of the city. Every Thursday evening from 18 to 22 free entry is allowed to the Exhibition of Contemporary Art fitted out in the Palace rooms.
More details on www.palazzostrozzi.org
5) THE OBLATE CAFETERIA (the place you hoped to find!)
On the second floor of the famous Oblate Library, the Cafeteria has been open to the public since May 2009 and has already become an important place of the city’s social and cultural life. The interior decoration is just as modern and fresh; every little detail is chosen with care and therefore allows spending your time at the library in a relaxed, safe and pleasing surrounding, unique in its atmosphere.
Almost every evening there will be a ‘theme wise’ musical event with free admission and optional drink (unless you sit at the table).
For more details please CLICK HERE
6) SANTA MARIA NOVELLA AND ITS PHARMACY
Florence is very rich in churches and in most of them free access is provided. These include the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, one of the most beautiful churches in the city which houses works by Giotto, Masaccio and Ghirlandaio. Inside the basilica there is a real pharmaceutical shop founded by Dominican friars in 1221: in their gardens they cultivated medicinal herbs that were used to prepare medications, balms and ointments for the small infirmary of their monastery. Today they go on following the same procedures for the preparation of spices, liquor, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals drugs.
All details about the church on: www.chiesasantamarianovella.it
All details abouth the pharmacy on: www.smnovella.it
7) THE CATHEDRAL OF FLORENCE
Admission is free to Santa Maria del Fiore (the Cathedral), one of Italy’s largest churches and a beautiful, UNESCO World Heritage building.
For details and opening hours CLICK HERE
8) ST BENEDICT CHURCH
Entrance is free also in the beautiful church of St. Benedict, which dates back to 1002. St. Benedict is the only church in Florence dedicated to the Holy Founder of Monasticism – now also the patron of Europe – Benedict from Norcia (480-547).
For more details and opening hours CLICK HERE
9) SQUARES OF FLORENCE
Do you have little time and want to choose a theme-wise-tour? Make the round of the squares of Florence.
10) GREEN FLORENCE
Do you prefer to relax in the greenery?
Choose among the many parks and gardens of the city the ones with free entrance as the Garden of Cascine, the Iris Garden, the Etruscan tomb of Montagnola, Torrigiani Garden, the Rose Garden or Villa Favard.
For more details please CLICK HERE
11) BUDGET LUXURY AT HOSTELS IN FLORENCE
OK, this isn’t free, but you can stay at our hostels in Florence from just €12 a night – a bargain when you consider that Villa Camerata hostel is an opulent 15th century villa, and Ostello del Chianti sits on the edge of the area’s beautiful, unspoiled wine region (free tastings available!) where you can hike or horse ride; and beauty doesn’t cost a thing.