5 (+1) Things to Do in Florence during the Summer Months

July 10, 2014
Enrico Catani

The summer months represent an excellent period to visit Florence. The historic centre is animated with a thousand noises, lights, and scents. A stroll through the narrow streets and squares of the city, packed with lively cafeterias, craft shops and taverns, will reveal a magical atmosphere that can be experienced only this time of the year: days are at their longest and the warm night air is ideal to hang out even in the latest hours.
Let’s face it: the Florentine summer is hot. But with the proper precautions, you will be able to enjoy at best even the hottest days, making your Tuscan eXPerience unforgettable. Just adapt your schedule and itinerary to the circumstances: visit as many places as you can during the cool of the morning, rest in the heat of mid-day, and enjoy the evening as long as you want!
And besides the main tourist attractions, the Florentine summer is also characterized by several interesting events and things to do. So, here are some suggestions by ItalyXP on how to live the summer months in Florence in the best possible way!

Experience the banks of the Arno River

The Arno River is an icon of Florence and the entire Tuscany region. Together with the Tiber River (that flows through Rome), it is the most vitally important river in central Italy. Over the centuries, it has been crucial to the development of finance and trade in the region, and even today much of the activities are centered on this vital waterway. 
Especially during the sultry days of summer, from the bridges over the river to the restaurants and bars lined-up along its route, you will notice an extremely lively atmosphere, with a healthy population of tourists and students cooling off the on the outdoors patios with a glass of prosecco, enjoying the breeze. In the hours when the heat peaks the most, on the banks of the Arno River people are used to relax, laying out on a towel or a rented deckchair: an alternative way to sunbathe, considering that the closest beach from Florence is an hour away. Also, in this period, the river can be thoroughly explored with a boat tour that passes along some of the best attractions of the city.
But summer is also time for awesome events and cultural initiatives that take place every year along the banks of the Arno River: among these, the Sandcastle Sculpting Contest, generally organized in mid-August, is one of the most beloved, by both children and adults.
But also, open-air cinema and theatre offer the great opportunity to enjoy great shows under the moonlight, surrounded by the beauty of Florence

Cool off with some authentic Gelato

“Summer”in Italy means “gelato”… And who can argue with that? After all, a trip to Italy in summer would not be completed without a good gelato. But the world-famous Italian dessert is not always the same and the quality differs a lot from shop to shop.
Luckily, in Florence there are lots of excellent ice-cream parlors and if you’re craving for a good gelato you will certainly be able to find it. If you have a true sweet-tooth going for a gelato will be probably be one of the highlights of your holiday, but to get a glimpse of its authentic flavor it might be better to head right to the most renowned Florentine gelaterias (ice-cream shops). In alternative, you can even learn how to make you own homemade gelato, through a fun-filled gelato cooking lesson!
The most ancient gelateria in Florence is Vivoli, not far from Piazza Santa Croce. It boasts an incredible variety of flavors, and there is no need to say that they are all “homemade” and prepared with genuine ingredients. Close to Palazzo Vecchio is the Gelateria dei Neri, a renowned place that offers surprising unusual flavors such as rose petal, ricotta or figs, but also make sorbetto and soy-based gelato, too. But if you like extra creamy and soft gelato, you cannot miss the Gelateria la Carraia, which is famous among locals for its unbeatable artisanal products… If you go here, do yourself a favor, and try the “Delizia Carraia”!
Sidenote: you want to order gelato but you don’t know a single word in Italian? Don't worry, because in every gelateria there are placards naming each flavor in English. All you have to do it is to choose and point what you prefer!

Party in the squares of the historic centre of Florence

As we said, in the summer months is generally recommended not hang out too much in the mid-day, as it’s likely to be unsustainable hot and humid. During those hours, it’s best to spend your time visiting the several indoor attractions of Florence, such as Palazzo Pitti and the Accademia Gallery, or with a guided tour of the Uffizi Gallery and the Vasari Corridor.
But when, in the evening, the air cools down, at every corner of the city lots of bars and temporary drinking places are set up. This phenomenon it’s an inevitable sign that summer is here! And because in Italy it’s not illegal to drink outdoors, the magic of summer here is mostly celebrated in the historic squares of the city, where are hosted nightly gigs and events. The Piazza Santo Spirito, Piazza Santissima Annunziata, Piazza Pitti and the Forte Belvedere are just some of the spots that serve as picturesque summer venue in Florence. Here, every evening, from mid-June until September, concerts are staged with music swinging from samba and tango to jazz, blues and afro-reggae.
At the so-called aperitivo hour (about 7:00pm to 9:00pm) most bars in the centre serve a parsimonious all-you-can-eat buffet with lots of local specialties at ridiculously low price. Otherwise, if you prefer to enjoy your well-rounded summer meal outdoors, you can find tons of gelato parlors and sandwich shops at every street. Furthermore, near those music nights there are always food stalls, with chairs and tables set out to let you enjoy some delicious Florentine street food.
Good food, enchanting music, the magical atmosphere of Florence by night… The perfect ingredients for a vibrant summer eXPerience!

Visit the most enchanting Parks & Gardens of Florence

When the summer strikes and the city become hot and sticky, Florentines usually flock to the beach or mountain, which are out of the city’s area and takes a while to reach. But also those that don’t have the possibility to leave the city have to find a refuge from the heat, and there is no better place than the parks.
There are a variety of parks in the central area of Florence: from the vast green meadows, to the monumental gardens decorated with fountains and monuments, and the innumerable tiny parks in the neighborhoods. Some of those are marvelous and, best of all, quiet and cool: the ideal places to step away from the city crowds and to connect with nature, discovering at the same time another aspect of the Florence’s essence.
One of the best green spaces in the historic centre is the Garden of Palazzo Vivarelli Colonna: enclosed by the high walls of the monumental building, it is an 18th century gem hidden in the urban fabric. In its interior it houses several splendid works of art, and its quietude makes it an ideal place for relax. Another enchanting place is the Borgo Allegri Garden, a neighborhood park with plenty of benches in the shade among the trees: a great place to have a restoring stroll and take a picnic with Florentine delicacies. Last but not least, among the must-see parks in Florence we must mention the historic Boboli Gardens, which boasts an amazing collection of sculptures and Roman antiquities, and the lesser-known Bardini Gardens, best to be visited through a guided tour, which offers one of the most beautiful views of the city landscape.
You will not regret a visit to those truly exceptional green oases, which are enjoyed by thousands of residents and visitors each year.  The parks of Florence, with their events and their activities for kids, help to make the city a unique and wonderful place to visit, relax and play!

Make a splash in an outdoor pool

A good splash in the water seems to be the Italians favorite way to find respite from the summer heat. Unfortunately though, not everyone can make it to the coast or to the Tuscan lakes every day. But don’t fret! Turns out that the city of Florence provides a plethora of communal outdoor swimming pools where tourists and locals can find some watery relief and have some fun!
The following are three among the best city’s pools in Florence:
The swimming pool Le Pavoniere is one of the most impressive. Immersed in the green of a monumental and historical park, Le Cascine, it looks like one of those pools you’ll expect to find in a luxury hotel, due to the presence of elegant villas, a pool bar and restaurants. Also, it’s very suitable for kids!
The Costoli Pool is the largest swimming venue in town, with three pools, including an Olympic-sized one and a paddling one for kids. Nestled in vast green meadow, it is often animated by a lively atmosphere, and with an abundance of lounge chairs poolside it’ll be easy to find place even in the busiest hours of the day.
The Nannini Bellariva complex offers a great urban aquatic centre, with a picturesque location and a nice lawn perfect for those in search of relax under shady trees. There is also a rooftop terrace restaurant that serves delicious summer dishes.
Whether for a quick dip or a daylong session of poolside leisure, head for one of Florence’s many public pools. From the end of May to September, most pools are open from 10:00am to 6:00pm, and entrance fees usually range about 5€ (although there are often discount for kids, or even days when the entrance is free!).
Sidenote: we recommend that you contact the individual facilities for further information!

Enjoying the fresh breeze in the evening with our Special Tours

When visiting Florence in summer, it’s generally considered wise to stick to the Italian life-style: start your excursion pretty early in the morning, to better use the cooler hours of the day; midday is time for enjoying the local cuisine and rest in a shady place; and the intense exploration continues in the late afternoon, followed by a late dinner and a digestive stroll.
For this reason, if you want to visit the city’s main attractions and you’re not quite a morning person, we suggest to choose an evening tour, taking advantage of the pleasant weather and the charming atmosphere of the sunset. And to make your travel eXPerience even more unique, you might want to try an evening tour by bike, to peacefully cruise the streets and narrow alleys of the historic centre. Or, alternatively, check out the night tour by Segway, a fun-filled and exciting way to discover the hidden treasures of Florence under the light of the moon and the gentle streetlights from a unique point of view. Because there is nothing like Florence by night

Florence at night

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