7. Piazza Perfection
It might not seem like an alternative thing to do in Florence, but it can be. Go to any piazza in Florence for a snack, glass of wine, or a cafe, and people watch to your heart’s content. The dizzying array of people set against a beautiful, historic background never gets old. My favorites are Piazza della Signoria and Piazza della Repubblica. Piazza della Signoria offers beautiful views of Florence’s civic center. Gaze at the incredible outdoor sculpture gallery, Neptune’s fountain, a reproduction of the David, and the Gucci Museo as you enjoy a glass of wine at Caffe Rivoire. The buzz of Florence continues in Piazza della Repubblica. Have a cafe at the Piazza’s institution, Gilli. It’s pricey, but worth the atmosphere.
6. Love is in the Air
Yes, this is a spot all tourists visit in Florence–Piazzale Michelangelo. It really does offer the best views of all of Florence. But as with anything, I say walk around and away from the crowds for another alternative thing to do in Florence. During my last visit, I walked down some steps off to the side of the more popular position, and came across what I think are better views. At the start of the banister that protects people from falling down the side of the steep hill sits a portion devoted locks similar to that of Paris’s famous Pont des Arts. These Love Locks are clearly not as popular as those in Paris, but they could be. And with their backdrop, you can look at them all day.
5. The Birth of the Renaissance
The Orsanmichele Church in Central Florence is another famous site, although not as busy or explored as the Duomo. After exploring the interior, turn to your left as you exit the main doors and take a look up at the statues that adorn the side of the exterior. You’ll notice a pattern of the statues, all reflecting the medieval philosophy. As you finally make it to the last statue, you notice a marked difference. This one is said to be to be the first Renaissance statue.
4. Knock, Knock–The Wine is Here
All around the historical center of Florence, people easily walk by what seems like small, meaningless little doors. Many people probably think they are just markers for different homes and palazzos. In a way they are, but they served a purpose. In their time, the staff of the palazzo would pour wine through them to citizens holding pitchers or buckets. This was how the lower classes gathered their wine. Walk around and see how many you can find as part of your discovery of tops alternative things to do in Florence..
3. A Hole in One
Aperitivo is a must in Florence, and aperitivo in the small, standing-only establishments around the city center is a local favorite top alternative thing to do in Florence. I Fratellini is one of the best. It’s a hole in the wall, stand outside place, but has the freshest and most delicious paninis and wine — and good conversation with strangers. There’s even a hanging cabinet on which to set down your glasses of vino while you eat and talk to you new friends.
2. Dining with the Duomo
Almost anywhere you eat in Florence has an exciting atmosphere for one reason or another. But what really makes for a great atmosphere is a place with a view–just as E.M. Forster said. And nothing beats an establishment with a view like one of Florence’s famous landmarks–the Duomo. Go to the popular Italian department store, La Rinascente. It doesn’t really matter what you order and how it tastes. Just look around and you’ll see everyone else with the same smile that will be on your face as you gaze at the stunning Duomo.
1. When in Rome…Speak Italian
I really have never had a problem with the language barrier in any city or town I have visited in Italy. Most people speak English. But why do that. I say match the beauty of Italy with the beauty of the Italian language. Take an Italian language beginner’s course — at least for ordering your coffee and croissant the right way. It’s a great morning activity, then you have the rest of the day to practice what you’ve learned. I studied at Scuola Leonardo da Vinci. It’s literally right around the corner from the Duomo, and the classes consist of people of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities. And when all’s said and done, you have a new group of friends with whom to share your top alternative things to do, and experience, in Florence.