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5 Things to Do in Florence (That the Travel Guide Books Won’t Tell You About)

Our insiders tell us their secrets tips for finding the best local haunts.

Florence may be a well-touristed town, but Associate Editor Julia Dilworth was able to track down a handful of thoughtful designers and makers who are redefining the city’s artisanal scene (read all about them here)—and she got their top picks so you can explore Firenze like the locals.

 

Local Picks from Martina Loncar
Goldsmith, Martina Loncar Jewellery

(Photo: Marina Denisova.)

Bjork
This blink-and-you’ll-miss-it concept store in the Oltrarno district houses hip men’s and women’s fashions and a wide range of art and culture publications (Avante Garde, Kinfolk, Woth, The Gentlewoman). They’ve got a cozy second-floor loft space they’ve set up for private reading sessions and they carry Italian designers like Federico Curradi, Sunnei and New Kid shoes.


Black Spring Bookshop

Black and red walls with woodland creature murals, skeletal drawings and brick archways make this independent bookstore (and bar) look like it’s a wizard’s study. “It’s a bit dark,” says Loncar. “But I love their choice of graphics, and I can always find something that can be of inspiration—like old encyclopedias.” This counterculture spot also hosts workshops and artist events, plus there’s an entire corner dedicated to vinyl.


Brac

“It’s not typical Italian food,” says Loncar, but this popular space is a favourite. Order the tri-plate piatto unico (15 euros) and choose a salad, pasta and faggotino (a crunchy bread pocket with fillings like ricotta and spinach). This lunch/dinner resto-café and artist event venue has stellar natural light (vaulted domed ceilings, big windows) with an inner open-air atrium (decorated with living room furniture, streamers of hanging pastel fabric and bicycles), plus there are shelves of art books everywhere.

Local Picks from Marghertia Pandolfini
Textile Designer, La Serra MK Textile Atelier


Numeroventi

Pandolfini’s friends run this exhibition and artist residency space that’s on her street (Via Pandolfini) and inside a 1500s palace called Palazzo Galli Tassi. The gallery space is palatial, but the most beautiful parts are the apartments they rent to travelling creatives: bright lofts with six-foot arched windows, simple Italian mid-century modern furnishings, wide-plank oak floors and copper pendant lights.


Stibbert Museum/Museo Stibbert

The half-Italian, half-English Frederick Stibbert (also Pandolfini’s ancestor) was a prolific private collector of historic artifacts—all of which are on display inside his former 1800s estate for eight euros! “It’s really inspiring because it’s a bit eccentric,” says Pandolfini. The rooms show off everything from his lavish decor (leather brocade wallpaper, gilded rococo furniture and Murano glass chandeliers) to his 16,000-piece armour collection (complete with 14 life-sized 16th-century knights on horseback). Well worth the cab trip up the hill.

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