Activities & Events
Bucket list-worthy sights, houses of fashion worship and the world’s most aromatic officina: Florence is the well-rounded culture seeker’s playground.
Heaven Scent History
Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella | +39 055 216276
Just a stone’s throw from the church of the same name, you borrow a bit of the neighbor’s reverence to cross the hallowed threshold into the world’s oldest operating pharmacy. The Officina is a shining Florentine marriage of commerce and craft, its tiled eaves a richly frescoed homage to the ancient practice of perfume and apothecary. Because SMN is part museum, part beauty lover’s dream, this is so much more than a shopping stop, with every conceivable product in classic Italian scents (melograno, almond, menthe). It’s the story that you’ll want to take some time with as you weave through artfully alternating exhibits and retail displays, the transition from 13th century friars and their herbal remedies to the cosmetic cathedral of today. There is something poetic in the seamless dovetailing of customer service and sensory sampling, all the while knowing that the signature elixirs of French queens and Medicis can also be yours. So sniff, wander and admire the architecture, and remember to save room for tea with one of the city’s true treasures.
Galleria dell’Accademia, Via Ricasoli 58/60 | +39 055 238 8609
Visiting a city as steeped in historic significance as Florence can be an overwhelming endeavor. On the one hand, you want to see it all, but on the other, you’re careful to avoid sightseeing burnout. It can be tempting to wonder whether the Galleria dell’Accademia and its crown jewel, Michelangelo’s David, is really worth that special trip, so let us weigh-in and say, in a word: absolutely. Not only is it enchanting to wend through the legendary sculptor’s masterworks in a crescendo lead-up to the headliner, but seeing David live and in person is something you just can’t skip. Your first glimpse of him down the Galleria’s corridor is awesome in depth and scale, and it’s incredible the nuances that shift as you approach. We embraced the throng of fellow shutterbugs and made a slow appreciative arc around the mammoth warrior, capturing every angle, feature and expression. Book your advance tickets and see the art icon in all his glory.
A Brief History of Fashion
In recent years, much has been made of Florence as the next fashion capital of the world. The dominance of menswear extravaganza Pitti Uomo and Luisa Via Roma’s Firenze4Ever events biannually highlight the city’s inherent nurturing of innovation and creativity, and the streets pulse with chic style. But you need only reference Ferragamo, Gucci or Pucci to know that Florentine fashion finesse isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. The three destinations dedicated to their stories are scenic explorations of a perennially hot topic.
Ferragamo Museo, Palazzo Spini Feroni, Piazza di Santa Trinita 5R | +39 055 356 2846
The story of Salvatore Ferragamo is an inspiring one, and the museum dedicated to his contributions is appropriately theatrical, contemplative and artistic. Hollywood icons, technicolor displays and educational timelines coexist in surprisingly easy measure, the mentions of Ferragamo fans like Audrey or Katharine Hepburn as fascinating as the trajectory of Salvatore’s diligent and intentional career. In regular collaboration with other museums, Ferragamo Museo utilizes exhibits to ask “is fashion art?” or “what makes an icon?”, and the resulting displays are substantive sights.
Gucci Museo, Piazza della Signoria, 10 | +39 055 7592 7010
Since 2011, this formidable building in the city center has paid homage to Guccio Gucci’s Florentine roots and the enduring legacy of the luxury leather line. How fun to learn that the iconic Horsebit detail and red-and-green web stripe actually owe their existence to Gucci’s equestrian-minded early patrons, or that their first-ever runway show actually took place in the old city. You can ease into your afternoon with a lunch break at the delightful museum restaurant, a stylish bookend after a fashionable feast for the eyes.
Palazzo Pucci, Via de’Pucci 6 | No Phone
The Palazzo Pucci is a decadent architectural symbol that has served as the fashion house’s headquarters since Emilio Pucci first crafted his signature prints. The family still owns and operates the landmark.
Mercato Centrale, Piazza del Mercato Centrale dell’Ariento | +39 055 239 9798
Mercato Sant’Ambrogio, Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti | No Phone
Chatting about Florence favorites is a rapturous topic of conversation that typically includes at least one exclamation about “the markets!”. We, like most travelers, love the general resurgence of farmstands and artisanal marketplaces, but there is a special energy in visiting these Florentine nerve centers. Perhaps the best known is the descriptively named Mercato Centrale in the city center. Though controversial in some circles (much of the former outdoor market by the same name was disbanded to make way for the new development), the busy, buzzing collective offers every opportunity for talking, tasting and taking it all in. Across town, the Sant’Ambrogio Market is a little less manicured and a lot more local (to delicious effect). The language barrier matters not at all as you weave past spirited vendors, sampling and savoring as you go. Whether for a picnic, minibar upgrade or a simple pick-me-up, you’ll find what you’re looking for at the mercatos.
Piazza del Duomo | +39 055 230 2885
You never forget the first time you spot Brunelleschi’s splendid, vibrant masterpiece, its rich red top seeming to soak up the most golden of the sun’s rays. It becomes a sort of beacon as you work your way through and around the city, so by the time you get to climb up into its lofty heights, it’s as though you’re getting to know a new friend better. It can be warm and a little butterfly-inducing as you ascend step by step, but there is nothing better than the view from the top.