Hidden in Florence is Oltrarno, historically known to be a thriving neighbourhood with craftsmen’s workshops.
The Airbnb hosts of Oltrarno created a map to support and share the local spots in Oltrarno, collaborating with associations and local communities in order to share the most special locations with travellers visiting the city, and supporting small businesses and local traditions.
Come with us on our second walk called, “The Oltrarno Florence.” It’s marked on the map, and consists of go-to spots of the locals who grew up in Oltrarno.
First up was the Galleria d’Arte Moderna, one of the museums in located Palazzo Pitti. The collection boasts 30 rooms packed with masterpieces from the end of 1700 to the first decades of 1900. Among them, several works by Fattori, one of the leaders of the group, Macchiaioli. Macchiaioli was the Italian movement that preceded the French Impressionism. Highlights of his work include: Self-portrait (1854), Italian Field after the Battle of Magenta (1862), Cousin Argia (1861), The Stirrup (1880), The Palmieri Bath House (1866) and the Portrait of the Step Daughter (1889). Within the same movement, Lega and Signorini are also on display.
Not far from Galleria d’Arte Moderna is the Basilica di Santo Spirito. It’s one of the main Basilicas of Florence and features 38 side chapels. A not widely known fact of what holds inside: a magnificent wooden crucifix that Michelangelo sculpted when he was seventeen years old. It was a token of gratitude for the prior who allowed him to study the anatomic figure on the corpses kept at the convent’s hospital.
The Santa Maria del Carmine church houses the frescoes of Cappella Brancacci, one of the masterpieces of Renaissance. It was decorated by Masaccio and Masolino and then completed by Filippino Lippi. The Chapel is miraculously intact. This is due to the intervention of a Florentine noblewoman who firmly opposed the covering of the frescoes. However, the church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary of Carmine and built in 1268, went through several reconstructions, big fires, war bombing and the flood of 1966 so it’s almost impossible to retrace its original appearance. 1966, is a date that recurs in locals’ memories in a sad, poignant way.
Sara Sassai is the proud and cheerful owner of La Cité, a cool location that welcomes guests from 9 AM till 2 PM. She says:
“Here you can listen to vinyls, read a punk fanzine, have a coffee or a beer, work, or meet people. It’s a very versatile co-working space, a tribute to the essence of nomadism to be interpreted as a welcoming vibe.”
The co-working and bookstore offers a broad range of cultural activities which is why Airbnb hosts chose the location for several meetups. This is a local place that at the same time welcomes the global community. The font used for the business cards – a tribute to the Arab culture – speaks volumes about the love for integration and diversity.
Nearby is Mad Souls & Spirits, self-proclaimed as “the best cocktail bar in Europe and Micronesia”. The community stopped here to share laughters and have an aperitivo. Among the signature cocktails are the: Losco Mule (an Italian pun, “Losco” sounds like “Moscow” but means “shady”) made with vodka and ginger beer and the Swedish Meatballs (schnapps, herbs, orange juice and “love”). The staff’s charm turned Mad into one of the favorite locations of locals and travellers to sip on the drinks by Julian and his team. The motto? #stayMAD!, of course.
The Studio Galleria Romanelli is a big and impressive space with giant statues welcoming you as you enter. The same family has been making and trading sculptures for two centuries. They blend tradition with contemporary taste.The sculptors are brothers Raffaello and Vincenzo Romanelli, who represent the 5th generation. The Gallery caters towards art lovers, collectors, architects and designers searching for unique artworks. In addition, they teach sculpting techniques in workshops.
Serving as a meeting point and crossroad for centuries, the Porta di San Frediano was built in 1300 to connect Pisa, a key location for commerce back then.
A day filled with so many beautiful discoveries couldn’t end without a gorgeous view, hidden from the crowd: the one you can enjoy from Torrino di Santa Rosa.
Missed our first walk? Discover it here.