Oltrarno District

Oltrarno District

The other side of Florence tour!

Little narrow streets, Medieval towers and buildings, the sound of the artisans’ tools, young and old people sitting on the steps in front of their houses, talking to each other during the hot summer evenings, cute, small markets and the smell of good food or bread and pastries that comes out early in the morning from the bakeries: that’s the Oltrarno, the other side of Florence

When you first arrive in Florence, of course you want to wonder through the center of the city, to see the main attractions and buildings like the outstanding cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Repubblica Square, Signoria Square and the amazing Ponte Vecchio. Or you might feel like looking for the tickets to the main museums of Florence like the Uffizi gallery, where Botticelli’s Venus or Leonardo da Vinci’s and Michelangelo’s paintings are waiting for you! And of course, seeing the original Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia gallery.

By then, don’t be shy, don’t stop just there! Cross the Old Bridge and loose yourself in the districts of the Oltrarno. The word ‘Oltrarno’ literally means ‘the other side of the Arno river.’ It’s the south part of Florence, where most of the Florentine people live. It could be considered like the Rive Gauche of Paris, thanks to the presence of nice cafes, bars, typical trattorias, artisan shops, boutiques but also unique artistic historical treasures.

The Oltrarno is divided in three areas: San Frediano, Santo Spirito, San Niccolò

San Frediano

Recently declared the coolest neighborhood of Europe, it’s famous especially for its nightlife.

The name comes from the main church of the neighborhood. You can find so many excellent fine restaurants or traditional trattorias here, all of which serve gorgeous food that you’ll fall in love with! And after dinner you have plenty of bars where you can enjoy a nice glass of wine or a fancy cocktail before going to bed. But even during the day this neighborhood has a lot to offer! For a nice walk, let’s start from the San Frediano doors, which used to comprise the walls of Florence, and take the street Borgo San Frediano!

It’s a pretty and lovely street, with so many art galleries, workshops and bizarre boutiques! So perfect if you like shopping or just looking through the window shops! If you like art, you have to make a stop at Carmine church, to see the Brancacci chapel, a fine example or Renaissance art, completely decorated with frescoes done by Masaccio, the father of Renaissance paintings. It’s a small, hidden artistic jewel that few people know about!

Santo Spirito

Santo Spirito is the name of the neighborhood but also of the church itself, which was the last project of Brunelleschi, the architect of the dome of the cathedral of Florence. Even if it has an unfinished facade, the Florentine people are so attached to this church that they consider it the most beautiful of the city!

It is also a link to another great personality: Michelangelo! Thanks to the support of an Augustinian friar, he had the chance to dissect cadavers here to improve his anatomical knowledge! And that’s why, as a gift, he did a fantastic crucifix that you can now admire inside the church.

The piazza Santo Spirito is also the perfect place if you want to enjoy a nice meal or stay around a bit drinking a glass of wine or a spritz, facing the church, looking at all the people walking, chatting, and having fun. And just 5 minutes from the square, the striking Palazzo Pitti is waiting for you! It was the last residence of the Medici, and the Augsburg Loraine family that came after them lived here too, not to mention the king of Italy as well, but we still call it the name of the first owner, Luca Pitti, who commissioned it during the mid XV century. Today, you can find different museums inside, like the Palatine Gallery, the Modern Gallery, the Silverworks museums and the amazing Boboli gardens! The latter is a charming monumental park that you should visit if you want to relax a little bit and get immersed in nature!

On the way to the river, you’ll pass in front of a church called Santa Felicita, which is considered one of the oldest churches of Florence. It’s famous because the famous private-secret passageway of the Medici, the Vasarian Corridor, crosses through it!

San Niccolò

Once you leave with the bridge at your back, you enter into the most characteristic district of the Oltrarno: San Niccolo. It’s full of little streets, mostly hilly due to the presence of the hills that surround Florence. Medieval and Renaissance buildings are the protagonists of this area! Together with workshops and cute little bistros!

And if you’re not yet tired and you’re wearing comfortable shoes, you can take the way up to Michelangelo Square, the panoramic square of Florence, the perfect end to this journey! It’s 15 minutes by foot, a bit tiring and on an uphill road, but it’s worth it! The view of the city from here is mind-blowing!