A trip to Florence and Tuscany means seeing the historic highlights. Must-see highlights include climbing the 463 steps of the Duomo, seeing both the vibrant frescoes painted by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari on the inside of Fillipo Brunelleschi’s dome, and taking in the sweeping views over the terra-cotta roofs to the Boboli Gardens, and well beyond on a clear day.
And that’s not all! Don’t forget to spend an afternoon gazing at the Renaissance treasures of Botticelli, Lippi and Giotto in the Uffizi gallery. Maybe some jewelry shopping on the Ponte Vecchio and a wine tour in the Chianti hills.
Once you have hit the main sights, here are a few suggestions for some off beat sites in Florence and Tuscany you may not have heard of. Oh and after all the sightseeing, here are some places for some fabulous places to eat in Florence and Tuscany.
Off-beat sites in Florence and Tuscany
Fondazione Luigi Tronci
The Tronci family has been passionate about music for generations. First making organ pipes in the early 17th century and now producing the “ear-crafted” UFIP cymbals that are used by musicians all over the world. In 2008 this lifelong love of music, particularly percussion, led the garrulous Luigi Tronci to create the Fondazione Luigi Tronci in his hometown of Pistoia.
You can see an 7th century organ from Prague and examples of the simple sonorous pipes the family produced for churches that could not afford a more expensive traditional bell. The real treat, however, is the large room filled with percussion instruments from just about every corner of the world. Tam-Tam’s from Africa, a gamelan from Bali and a Tabla from India.
Tronci knows the history of each of the instruments in the collection and is more than happy to explain, share and teach visitors about this impressive collection.
Address: Corso Gramsci, 37, Pistoia
Carnevale di Foiano
While you have probably heard of the elaborate Carnival celebrations that happen every year in Venice, you might not know about one of the oldest carnival celebrations in Italy. The Carnevale di Foiano is celebrated five consecutive Sundays in the Tuscan town of Foiano della Chiana. This year the festivities will be from February 9-March 9, 2014.
In four separate workshops located on the edge of town, the teams, named Azzuri, Bombolo, Nottambuli and Rustici, work tirelessly and in complete secrecy, to create impressive and fantastical mechanical floats that will be displayed and judged in the town’s main piazza during the Carnival season.
In 2013 the winning team were the Azzuri, who will it be in 2014? Head there to be part of this incredible experience!
Del Brenna Artisan Studio & Showroom
Shoes, jewelry and silver dusted prosecco. What’s not to love! In the pretty hilltop town of Cortona is this beautiful workshop housed in what was once the wine cellar of a 14th century palace. Shoes that are handcrafted in nearby Arezzo are adorned with dazzling jewels created by Alessandro Luicio using Renaissance techniques.
You can take a tour of the beautifully designed space guided by a member of the talented Del Brenna family and see how these exquisite pieces are made and at the same time, learn more about the fascinating history of the locale. Try on glittery jewels, sip cold sparkly Prosecco and maybe bring home your own piece of handcrafted history.
Address: vicolo Corazzi, 17/19, Cortona
Fondazione Artiginato Artistisco Firenze monthly craft and farmers market
Located in the Oltrarno neighborhood of Florence in an once abandoned convent is an amazing space. A space that now houses many different artisans in workshops that has transformed into a wonderful collaborative environment.
On the second Sunday of every month the foundation hosts what is called Lungoungiorno + Fierucola, an organic food market, craft classes for adults and children and open workshops with demonstrations and items for sale. The foundation also organizes regular tours of artisan workshops in Florence and at the center.
Address: Via Giano della Bella 20/1, Florence
Disclosure: BrowsingItaly was an invited guest of the Play Your Tuscany Project but all opinions are the author’s own.