From picturesque landscapes to renowned works of art, so many things make Florence one of Italy’s must-see destinations. And, while we at Go Ahead think a trip to the Tuscan capital is always a good idea, the city truly shines in autumn, when the pace slows down and the fall harvest picks up. Here are three reasons why fall is the perfect season to pay a visit to Florence.
1. Masterpieces are yours to admire
Visiting Florence in the off-season is the best way to ensure prime views of breathtaking artwork without having to jostle for space among summer’s bigger crowds. Here are two iconic museums to visit this autumn.
The Uffizi Gallery
This landmark is not only one of the most impressive museums in Italy, but one of the most revered in the world. The expansive collection at the Uffizi Gallery includes Renaissance-era masterworks by artists such as Titian, Caravaggio, and da Vinci, and no visit to Florence is complete without seeing them for yourself. Inside the gallery’s vast halls you’ll find Raphael’s colorful Madonna of the Goldfinch, Giotto’s artistically important Ognissanti Madonna altarpiece, and Botticelli’s captivating painting, The Birth of Venus.
Traveler tip: Visiting the Uffizi is a bucket list item for many travelers—as the long lines that curl around the building prove. Save time and skip straight to the front by making reservations for your visit in advance.
The Accademia Gallery
The Accademia is one of Firenze’s most famous institutions. It’s here that Michelangelo’s world-renowned marble statue, the David, stands almost 20 feet tall. The hallway leading to the imposing icon is lined with unfinished sculptures, and looking up from the incomplete pieces—which highlight Michelangelo’s creative process—and seeing the statue for the first time will truly take your breath away. The Accademia also houses 19th-century plaster casts by professor Lorenzo Bartolini, brilliantly painted altarpieces, and a collection of instruments used by the Medici court.
Traveler tip: Another of the Accademia’s treasures is a full-scale plaster model of Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabines, one of the sculptor’s most striking pieces of work. Want to see the finished product? Take a 15 minute walk to Piazza della Signoria, located right next to the Uffizi Gallery, where the 16th-century marble statue stands under the arches of the Loggia dei Lanzi.
2. Cooler temps invite you outdoors
Florence’s narrow, densely packed streets may be perfect for exploring, but they warm up during the summer months. The drop in temperatures as the season changes makes fall a welcome reprieve—and the brisk air is the perfect excuse to don some Florentine leather boots. Here are a couple of ways to spend a free day in Florence while enjoying the refreshing autumn air.
Admire the tabernacles
Florence’s museums aren’t the only places to see stunning artwork. In fact, telling signs of the city’s extensive history can be seen on even the most ordinary streets. Look up as you enjoy a fall stroll and you’re likely to see tabernacles, which are small building niches that display frescoes or statues. The Virgin Mary and John the Baptist are common depictions, as many of these were created during the 13th and 14th centuries to show religious devotion, or to ask for protection when the black plague swept the city. Often located in unassuming places or protected behind dirty glass, these treasures are a humble reminder of Florence’s artistic and cultural evolution through the centuries.
Stroll through the Oltrarno neighborhood
While there is more than enough to keep you absorbed in Florence’s city center, there’s so much to admire on the other side of the Arno River. Head over the historic Ponte Vecchio—and window shop as you pass the bridge’s many gold shops—to discover the Oltrarno. This working-class area is dotted with authentic artisan workshops as well as some of the city’s most famous landmarks. Stroll among locals down cobbled side streets, or discover even more Florentine history at the Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens, or Belvedere Fort. Check our our Oltrarno neighborhood guide >
Traveler tip: While exploring the Oltrarno, make it a point to swing by Gusta Pizza on Via Maggio for a filling bite. This pizzeria is popular with locals and visitors alike, and the pies made here are delicious and cheap! You can even get a pizza to-go and savor it outside while you enjoy the autumn weather.
3. You can indulge in Tuscany’s seasonal cuisine
If autumnal Tuscan flavors are what you seek, Florence’s many open-air markets are the places to go. Here, locals sell regional produce grown on their own farms, and the fall harvest bears some of Italy’s most flavorful produce. From truffles, chestnuts, and grapes to mushrooms, eggplant, and pumpkin, there are so many bites to try as the weather cools down. If you want to shop among locals, make your way to the Sant’Ambrogio Market in Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti, where indoor and outdoor sections overflow with fresh flavors. Or, if popping into a traditional trattoria is more your style, here are a couple regional flavors to seek out during your fall trip to Florence.
This traditional Tuscan bread-and-vegetable soup is one of the top Italian dishes to try on tour in Florence. It’s made with chunks of stale, unsalted Tuscan bread that soften in the broth, and finished with a drizzle of really, really good extra virgin olive oil. (Seriously, we didn’t know olive oil could be this good.) Ribollita is a filling, cold-weather comfort food that the city’s known for, and you’re sure to find it on almost any menu on a fall trip.
A nice glass of Chianti Classico
Okay, okay, there’s never really a wrong time to have a glass of red wine on tour in Florence. But, it’s even better on a fall day when a chilled glass of white wine just doesn’t cut it. If you want to try the best of the best, Chianti Classico is the red wine to reach for. Each bottle sports a DOCG stamp on the neck, which stands of “Denomination of Origin Controlled and Guaranteed.” In other words, it’s a great vino made under strict guidelines in the nearby Chianti wine region—and it pairs really well with heavier fall dishes like ribollita and bistecca alla fiorentina.