Friday, June 30, 2017

5 Hidden Gems to See on Your Romantic Vacation in Florence

While most romantic guides praise Rome or Milan, I continue to believe that Florence is the best city throughout Italy. Tuscany is rich in landmarks and its capital, to be honest, is one massive site. You’ve probably heard about the main Florentine attractions a lot but some places there are yet to be discovered. We compiled a list of less-know places in Florence. Let’s see what unusual trips to take!

1. Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory

The Arcetri area, one mile south of Florence, is considered to be part of the city. For the beginning, you should know that Galileo Galilei spent his last years there – his Villa Il Gioiello is among the main local attractions. The observatory is placed next to the villa on the hilltop from where the great astronomer and his students observed the sky. It was established in 1807 and now functions as a museum of science and a research center (it belongs to the National Institute for Astrophysics). There is also a nice garden decorated with modern celestial sculptures.

2. Davanzati Palace Museum

How about traveling back in time? Constructed in the mid-14th century, the Palace provides the unique insight into medieval life. It used to be the property of several noble Florentine families. In particular, Bernardo Davanzati, a well-known merchant and translator of his time, bought the house in 1578. He made some changes to the exterior. What’s really curious, the building represents the architectural styles of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. You can see how a traditional castle transforms into a palazzo. The rooms will surprise you as well: original furniture and equipment from 14-19th centuries, lavish frescoes and paintings. Walk through the stunning halls of Parrots and of Peacocks, they are among the prominent pieces of art here.

3. Giardino dell’Iris

In English, it simply means the Iris Garden. Botanic gardens are very romantic, aren’t they? This is a must-see attraction if you visit Florence on May 2-20. The hidden entrance is noticeable from Piazzale Michelangelo, one of the iconic local sites. Go there to see the city’s panorama and take a look to your left – you will find the garden below the hill. 15,000 of Iris flowers interlaced with old olive trees grow there. All shades and sizes and even odors you can think of are available! You can buy seedlings, by the way. The garden provides the scenic view of Arno and the old city and is free to attend.

4. Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy

The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is actually one of the best-known sites in Florence – it is old, fancy-looking, and sacred. But not so many visitors know about the oldest European pharmacy located next to the church at Via della Scala St. 16. It was founded in 1221 by Dominican monks who needed a place to prepare remedies, balms, and perfumes for their personal needs. Nowadays, the pharmacy is open to public and you can buy their products made according to original recipes. The building is worth your attention too: this is a true piece of Gothic art full of relics. It also hosts a museum presenting the ancient apothecary stuff.

5. Monte Ceceri Hill

It is one of the best places to visit when dating. What can be so special about some hill? In fact, this is a spot where Leonardo da Vinci tested his flying machine in 1506. You will find a memorial stone just on its top. As the second, this hill is part of the picturesque town of Fiesole located 5 miles northeast of Florence. It is actually a must-see place! Founded in the 9th century B.C. by Etruscans, the town encompasses many exclusive sites like ancient Roman baths and theater, early medieval churches, villas of 14th century’s Florentine nobles, and castles.

Article contributed by Alexander Povetkin

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