Ah, Florence… The capital of Italy's Tuscany region. The epicentre of art, food, and culture. The birthplace of the Renaissance and home to the world's most renowned thought leaders and artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, to name a few.
The cultural metropolis of Florence draws in millions of visitors each year thanks to its jaw-dropping architecture, impressive museums, and irresistible gelato shops. But suppose you really want to immerse yourself in authentic Italian living. In that case, you'll want to venture away from the tourist hubs and dive into the soul of the city. Thankfully, Bob's got the connections you need and has therefore erected a set of apartments in the coolest neighbourhood just south of the Arno River.
Welcome to Santo Spirito.
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When in Florence, it would be a crime to miss out on some of the city's most historic cultural monuments. Luckily, the Santo Spirito neighbourhood has plenty to offer, and we've rounded up the top four you should visit.
One of the must-see attractions in the area is the Basilica di Santo Spirito. Now, don't judge a book by its cover. The exterior of this Renaissance-era basilica is rather plain. Still, the interior is what wows every visitor that steps foot inside this hidden gem of Florence. Entrance to the church is free, but it's worth paying the 3 EUR to witness the wooden crucifix Michelangelo carved when he was just 17 years old.
Next on the list is the unmissable Ponte Vecchio. Even if you aren't looking for it, you'll surely stumble upon it, and it is truly a sight to behold. Much more than a bridge, the Ponte Vecchio is a symbol of the city. It is the bond between the north and south of Florence and was the only bridge to cross the Arno River until 1218. Ancient workshops filled with gold and jewels flank the stone road that crosses the Ponte Vecchio, making it the perfect place to pick up a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
Just across the Ponte Vecchio on the north side of the Arno is the iconic Palazzo Vecchio. This striking fortified 13th-century palace now serves as the town hall of Florence. Open to the public for a fee of 12.50 EUR each, visitors are welcome to marvel at the remarkable artwork and statues – including a replica of Michelangelo's David. While touring the palace, it's worth climbing the 400 steps to the top of the tower to take in the panoramic views of Florence. The tower is an additional 12.50 EUR to visit.
A short distance from the Ponte Vecchio on the south side of the river lies Palazzo Pitti, a Renaissance palace turned art museum. The ornate interior houses many paintings and furniture, while extraordinary artwork covers the ceilings and walls. Pitti Palace is by far one of the best museums in Florence!
Cleanse your body from all that pasta and gelato, and get your healthy food fix at Carduccio - Il Salotto Bio. Just five minutes' walking distance from Bob's place, this lovely restaurant offers a fantastic selection of homemade menu items. Choose from smoothie bowls, healthy burgers, muffins, cakes, and more while enjoying the cosy ambiance and excellent service. They have a great variety of gluten-free and vegan options available as well.
Cafes and breakfast
Start your day deliciously with breakfast at the bustling yet cosy Ditta Artigianale cafe. Enjoy silky smooth coffee alongside French toast and American pancakes, or choose one of their mouthwatering croissants with flavours like almond and dulce de leche. As a Bob W breakfast partner, guests can pay to add a "Breakfast Pass" to their stay to enjoy a discount and avoid the hassle of paying on the spot.
Need to eat on the go? Stop by S Forno, a charming little Italian bakery serving breakfast and lunch a few streets away from Basilica Santo Spirito. In addition to freshly baked goods, the rustic-modern interior houses a section where visitors can purchase local Italian products like homemade croutons, pasta, and homemade jams. If you're travelling with your furry friend, bring them too! S. Forno is pet friendly.
Everyone knows Italy is famous for its gelato, but only the locals (and Bob) know where to find the real deal. Located just four minutes walking from our Ponte Vecchio property is the tiny Gelateria della Passera. Inside the little two-person shop awaits an array of metal tins filled with the creamy goodness that is genuine Italian gelato. For a truly authentic treat, go for the Zabaione flavour inspired by the traditional Florentine dessert of the same name.
Bars and nightlife
When the sun goes down, Santo Spirito Square comes alive. This is your sign to head to the piazza for a drink at one of the many bars that line the square. Enjoy an aperitivo or an Aperol Spritz at Volume, a spot frequented by Florentines. This bar has live music on weekends which only adds to the cool local vibe.
A night out in Santo Spirito would not be complete without hitting up Bulli e Balene, an easy-going cicchetteria. This Italian eatery is packed in the evening with locals and tourists alike sipping on delicious cocktails while nibbling on tasty crostinis, also available vegetarian and vegan. This casual bar serves a fantastic choice of cocktails made to perfection. Think limoncello spritzes, negronis, Americanos, London mules and more. Best of all? The prices are unbeatable. Snag a spot inside to enjoy the jazz lounge atmosphere or sit on one of the benches out front to really soak in the Florentine nightlife.
Florence's rich artistic heritage can be witnessed far beyond the art galleries and museums that make up the city's core. The seemingly endless source of creativity that Firenze is known for has produced countless artisan workshops that keep the local handicraft tradition alive.
One artisan shop worth visiting is Galleria Ponte Vecchio Ceramiche, located just downstairs from Bob's apartments in Santo Spirito. This darling store features artwork and stunning hand-painted ceramic pieces (some of which even made their way into our apartments). The shop owner is charming and helpful, making the experience of visiting this boutique extra special. This is your place if you want to take home an original, everlasting, and uniquely Italian souvenir!
If a great spot to eat, drink, and people-watch is what you're after, look no further than the Mercato di Santo Spirito. This lovely local market comes to life each day with vendors selling fresh, seasonal produce and locally made products like honey, spices, and olive oil. Take in the vibrant atmosphere with a cappuccino at one of the cafes surrounding the square, or peruse the stalls while sampling local delicacies.
Every second Sunday of the month, Piazza Santo Spirito is transformed into an open-air flea market as hundreds of sellers present antique furniture, treasures, and trinkets. Thousands of visitors turn up for the monthly rendezvous to browse the tables filled with art deco lamps, vintage rugs, artwork, old radios, dolls, war medals, table sculptures, and more. Many regulars come to this market to simply hang out and enjoy the day, making it a fantastic place to catch a glimpse of local life. Vendors are happy to chit-chat about their wares and barter over prices; just make sure you bring cash.
Sports and wellness
Swap strolling Florence's cobblestone streets with a visit to The Boboli Gardens for a day. Located directly behind Palazzo Pitti is a verdant historic park dating back to 1766. It was originally designed for the Medici and represents a classic Italian-style garden that would later serve as a model for many European courts. The beautifully cultivated grounds, panoramic views, and collection of intricate Renaissance statues throughout the gardens are well worth the 10 EUR entrance fee.
Rather get your workout at the gym? Bob makes it easy for his guests to stay fit while on the road. Just down the street from our Ponte Vecchio property is our gym partner, A.S.D Gym&Tonic. Here, guests can enjoy one complimentary daily pass per person for every day of their stay.
Whether you're coming to Florence for a night or a month, stay like a local in one of Bob W's spacious 1-bedroom apartments minutes away from Ponte Vecchio. Get complimentary access to A.S.D. Gym & Tonic and discounted Breakfast Passes to Ditta Artigianale. For the best rates and perks you won't get elsewhere, book directly on bobw.co.