As a 5-time seasoned veteran of the “Florentine summer”, there are a few trusty tips that I give to all of my friends spending a summer in Florence. Most locals and expats have learned by now to get the hell out of dodge when it comes to the summer months in Florence–the combination of Hades-like heat waves, shops closed for ferie (vacation), and the swarms of tourists who clog the streets can make for a pretty unfortunate summer unless you learn to embrace these few guidelines for making your summer in Florence unforgettable.
1. Cool off with a trip to the pool
Remember back in middle school, when summertime meant lounging around at your friend’s backyard pool eating watermelon slices and getting a wicked tan? Bask in the glory days of your former youth with a trip to any of Florence’s local public pools. My top pick is Le Pavoniere, located in the heart of Florence’s Cascine park. Open from 10 am – 6pm on the weekdays, entrance costs 8 euro and during the summer Le Pavoniere keeps late hours (10pm-2am), meaning you can grab a bite to eat, go for a late night swim or just enjoy the random DJ sets and music until the early morning. Check out Firenze.net‘s list of public pools for more info on places to visit for a refreshing dip.
2. Go to an outdoor concert
Summer is all about the outdoor music festival. Lucca and Arezzo sponsor two of the more famous festivals in the Tuscany region, up until the end of July. Click here for more info on the upcoming acts playing in Lucca’s Summer Music Festival.
3. Visit a local food festival
When in Italy, why not eat as the Italians do? During the summer months, many towns host local sagras, where you can taste the local home-grown specialties cooked in a variety of dishes. Check out these upcoming sagras, and make sure to bring your stretchy pants for maximum waistline expansion.
Sagra del Fungo Porcino (porcini mushrooms)–July 20th-22nd, July 27th-29th in Scarperia
Sagra della Bistecca (steak)–August 14th and 15th, Cortona
Festival del Mugello–local specialties like crostini, honey, tortello and roasted meats; runs until the beginning of September
4. Go to the movies
Sometimes, you just need to get away from the heated furnace of Florence’s crowded piazzas. One of the only reliable solutions I have found is to hit the movies for a sure-fire way to cool off (hello, air conditioning!) and relax for a few hours with some mindless entertainment. Two of Florence’s movie theaters play films in their original English–the Odeon and Astra 2, both centrally located and within 10 minutes walking distance of the Duomo. Click here for a program of the next movie listings.
5. Get out of town for the day
If, like me, you are bogged down during the week with adult responsibilities (aka a job, school, etc.) there is no bigger blessing than the weekend day trip. Head west and spend a day relaxing on the beaches of Monterosso in the Cinque Terre, or simply hop on the Number 7 public bus and go up to Fiesole for an afternoon picnic in the countryside.
Interested in a day trip from Florence? Check out the FlorenceForFun trip to Cinque Terre on www.florenceforfun.com.