Florence is one of the few places that has a way of bringing out the best in everything. It has a great idea in which it can merge, its social and artistic culture, with the expectations of the other parts of the world. This magnificence is what makes it stand out uniquely among other places that I have had the chance of going to.
The joy about being in Florence during the winter is that you get to enjoy fewer crowds of people and better amenities because not many people have booked them. I also realized that as much as during the summer, you will be able to participate in a lot of activities, the winter brings with it, a whole list of exciting things that you can also be actively part of despite the raging temperatures.
The only difference is that you will have to be well-armed with protective clothing and rubber shoes to brave the winter weather. It is also advised that you have a complete medical checkup before you get to Florence because at times the snow gets too heavy for you get to the hospitals. Having an idea of your health status will guide you on what and what not to do while you are there.
You should always be prepared for anything as you hope for the best.
Things to do in Florence in Winter
There are some things that you will very much enjoy if you are in Florence during the winter. You don’t have to do every single something on the list, but it will be a waste of winter fun if you don’t try at least half of them.
1. Do not be in a hurry to rush through the city
One of the biggest mistakes that people have made over the years is fearing the cold winter weather. Therefore, they mark out specific places that they are visiting and rush through them so that they can go back to their hotels or back to their homes. This overrides the whole holiday idea. It should be a time when deadlines are not a limiting factor.
When you go through a vacation in a hurry, you don’t get to enjoy the experiences or even know more about the places. You may also not get the chance to shop around or identify some of the exciting things of the guide experiences, like having traditional meals, especially if you are in such a beautiful city.
Take time and savor through the bits of the city and what it offers. Get to interact with people, learn how to cook and perform some of the cultural practices, and even take a detour and have walks or hikes over the land and see what nature holds for you. You may find yourself not being in a position to exhaust everything. A second visit to this place will have to be scheduled.
2. Attend the Christmas market
It is not just like any other holiday market. The Christmas market in Florence is one with German-style authenticity hosted between the period of late November and late December. The market is always found at the Piazza di Santa Croce or the Palazzo Corsini. It is, however, not a fixed location type of event.
The market is made up of at least rows of almost 40 stalls. Here you get to be intrigued by the homemade lavender soap, fresh pastries, and the roasted portions of beef that are aimed to attract many people to them. You will be able to find so much more among the stalls than you could have bargained for. It is quite fun.
Some traditional Christmas decorations are usually sold in some of the stalls in the market. There is a belief that buying some of the decorations, even when you already have them is a way of ensuring that the new cheer is spread even into the New Year. They are usually sold at a lower price than other times of the year.
As much as it is a market whose client base is more during the day, it also stretches to night time around 10 pm where you can enjoy incredible drinks at the Giant Carousel Turned Bar. It doesn’t turn. I thought you should know.
3. Enjoy an amazing live concert
Everyone enjoys a live concert once in a while, even if it happens to be of a genre that you wouldn’t choose. Most of them are done out in the open, especially the Christmas and New Year concerts. You will then need to have an open mind for you to enjoy these few things.
It includes plays, orchestral performances or even the apparent live concerts by some famous person in the world. Some of them also come to release albums and new music on these platforms because they know that they will be able to reach a far greater audience because of the visitors from all over the world.
Every year, different concerts are usually set in place to allow winter visitors to have some fun. You should, therefore, make a point to know which ones are in line and where they will be held at. It will ensure that you don’t miss out on that fun.
4. Have some hot chocolate
Everyone prefers a bit of some hot drink to drive away from the chilly weather. The joy of Florence is that they have a thick hot chocolate liquid that is unlike what we usually drink in teacups. It is more like porridge though it is not. In most places, it is even served with a spoon to allow you to eat it.
The grand events and parties that are usually held in Italy typically have chocolate fountains where you can fetch some in your bowl or cup anytime. It is one of those things you cannot miss if you are in an Italian based style type of event. If you can then access one of them, do not walk away before you have a taste of the fantastic molten chocolate.
The sweetness of the chocolate that you will find in this place is that it is white with some ginger taste added to it. I would die to have a mug of this chocolate. Winter is, however, the only period when it is served so that summer will deny you of this chance.
5. Enjoy the winter shopping sales
Florence is known to be one of the places with very price items. Most of them may be imported, but even the locally made ones are, in most cases placed at prices that are beyond what many people would expect from such a highly visited place.
However, when it comes to the winter period, the market takes a whole turn of events that makes the visitors have a shopping spree of their lives. Most shops go on sale period where everything is either 50 % off or more. You will, therefore, get to enjoy some fantastic leather goods, store-lined street clothes, and shoes, designer brands.
Business people who have known this small trick have been able to control their purchase trips to allow them to be in Florence at the start of the winter sales. Therefore they can buy so much more while spending so much less.
6. Allow a little childhood fun by riding the wooden horses
At the center of the Square, some wooden horse rides have been functioning for so many years. It is one of the oldest trips that have raised interest in so many of the locals and even the tourists from all over the world. This is more so to the children who always look forward to something exciting to do.
Adults are in rare cases also allowed onto the rides, though many may tag it a mid-life crisis but does fun know the age? The horses are firmly fitted and constantly renovated to ensure that the security of the people on the horses is not risked. It could be the cause of some severe injuries and even deaths.
Over the years, many people have opted to use them while shooting music videos. There have also been various films that have act out some of their scenes in this place. You, therefore, also get to enjoy a home that has been known to earn Florence quite some revenue.
The same place also has some impressive fountains in the oval Square that gives a perfect place to take pictures and make many memories while you enjoy the Florence air.
7. Have some Tuscan Soup
A good number of people will assume the soup idea and think that it cannot be any different from what they usually have at their homes. You should, however, be aware that these are recipes that have been taken for years by the Florentine peasants. They also have a culture of sitting on communal tables. So don’t be overwhelmed.
The Minestra (vegetable soup), Pappa al Pomodoro (tomato and bread soup) and the Ribollita (vegetable and bread soup) have been taken for long periods. Therefore, they are usually served by any of the indigenous hotels and restaurants in Florence. It is one of the things that make up the rich cultural heritage of the people in this place.
This sop is among the many other meals that have been passed down to generations to preserve the culture of the people. Some of the fantastic meals that are usually pre-prepared are like the hand-made tortellini and the Bollito which are highly eaten by the people. Both the locals and the tourists.
When you feel cold on that white day but you are not yet hungry enough, I would suggest a bowl of soup to get you going before you have your meal.
8. Attend an exciting film show
We all love a good movie once in a while. The ability to sink into a fantastic seat, with a bowl of popcorn in a dark room fitted with excellent sound system effects is one of the best ways to enjoy a vacation.
The Odeon program offers you a great selection of films where you can enjoy them together with your loved ones too. You can watch from the science-fiction movies like Star Wars and Avengers to epics like Harry Potter. It will all depend on the program that has been set out by the cinema guide for that holiday.
You could also see the programs at the Cinema Della Compagnia and Spazio Alfieri, where the culture of these places has been harbored, bringing together the locals and the visitors. The movies are a perfect way of creating a free space where it does not matter who you are or where you come from. Everyone is at the same level in this cinema.
9. Enjoy the Nativity Scenes
The nativity scenes are the traditional activities that people usually try to reiterate during the holidays. It is typically a way for the locals to be able to participate in making it memorable for them. More so because of the fact that the Catholic religion has a significant effect on almost everything done around there.
There are a number of these scenes that are usually done all over Florence unusual since it is a catholic based society. The Duomo and the Rapolano Terme that have been known to appreciate the Tuscan winter. In such places, you will find big projects that accompany the fantastic scenery that you will find.
10. Participate in the wine tasting events
Florence is praised for its selections of vintage drinks like the Tuscan wine. You will get to be educated on the history of the local wine, the winery processes, and practices and eventually get to have a glass or two. Purchase of a bottle or two is also allowed at the winery at a reduced price.
The events offer exciting and irresistible Tuscan foods that are paired up with the wine and cheese or cold meat. It is just a way to have you enjoy the wholeness in the drinks that they take great pride in. Among the many recommended places, we have the La Divina Enoteca that has been known to offer most of the fantastic meals and wine to the visitors despite the cold weather that the winter comes with.
11. Attend the ballet performances
Florence has been praised over the ears for the fantastic performances it has hosted. It includes orchestral an even operatic performances apart from the known ice ballet dances that happen during the winter periods.
The Teatro Verdi, which was opened in 1854, has been known to be the bed rest of all these activities in Florence. Plays like the Nutcracker have been performed in this place, bringing together people from all over the state to enjoy a bit of winter fun.
You may not be a fan of the classical, but attending one of these performances might end up changing your whole idea of the conventional.
12. Visit the many museums and churches
One of the advantages of the winter season is that there are fewer people in prime tourist places. These are like museums and churches. You, therefore, cannot expect jams or standing for long periods on lines to get into a historic center for a tour.
The beauty of such a place is that you can still make reservations because despite the tourists not being many, there usually always is a good number. Places like the Uffizi, Galleria dell ‘Accademia, and Duomo, reservations are the only way to go. Otherwise, you will waste long hours waiting for a chance to get inside.
You should get to visit Giotto’s Bell Tower and the crypt that is available in the cathedral and the baptistery. Florence is majorly a catholic place. Therefore, many things will be related to that line of faith.
As a way of getting people to find fun in learning the history behind Florence, there is a card called the Firenze Card that allows you to visit 55 museums in 72 hours for €85. It has always been more like a game to me, but you get free entrance into the museums. Personally, it is one great challenge and offer.
It is, however, vital that you note, during Christmas Day and New Year the museums are closed, but the rest of the city is alive and active.
13. Enjoy the Befana
This is an Italian celebration where they celebrate a feminine version of Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus, who is known to be a witch but a good one who hand out candy and gifts to the children. The fun in these celebrations is that people get to dress up with a black scarf and a broomstick and handing gifts to children.
Though to many people it may sound like a Christmas that is being corrupted, the cultural background of the Befana and the tradition of goodwill overpowers any negativity that comes with the folklore. As a mode of being involved, you could also join the others and hand out gifts while dressed as a Befana.
It acts as an enjoyable costume party is you think of it outside the box.
14. Participate in a pasta-making class from scratch
Have you ever wondered how pasta is made? How the different shapes come to being and what exactly is done to them? This could be your perfect chance to get to learn everything and have those questions that you have always had answered to the core.
In that class, you will learn how to make authentic Tuscan dishes including sauces, three kinds of pasta with savory fillings and how best to serve each dish with wine so that you ensure that the taste of the meal does not get carried away.
If you are interested in taking part in this class, you should be aware of the necessary culinary attire like fitting clothes, an apron, flats, and a net to cover your hair. You will be going into a kitchen. It is, therefore, just proper to dress appropriately. You will also need to book in advance to ensure that they can make appropriate arrangements for you.
15. Enjoy a fantastic skating experience
The ice during the winter has created fun in some sports that can only be enjoyed during the short periods that they have a white winter. This is the whole fun of having a holiday during the winter. It gives you a chance to enjoy the ice as well as have fun as you make merry.
The Parterre area near the Piazza Della Liberta and the Obihall: which has the Tuscan Winter park, offers you a vast space where you can enjoy a lot of ice skating, snow tubing, and downhill ski as much as the mountains are far away.
Some people have never had this chance before and are, therefore, learners. If you are one of them, do not be afraid to try it out. There are set out guides who are available to guide you on what you should do and what you should not do. Clinics and first aid specialists are usually very close too, in case anyone is injured. Accidents always happen even when you are least prepared.
Winter is one of the most exciting times that you can get to tour the land of the Italians and more so when you get to Florence. The fact that there are fewer people during this time of the year proves to you that you will not have to endure the congestion of people on the streets or the areas of interest. You should not leave the place without skiing, visiting museums, attending concerts and cinemas, dancing during the winter festivities and having some of the fantastic Tuscan meals that are available. They are all just a taste of what Florence has to offer which you shouldn’t miss. Winter doesn’t have to be boring, especially when you are in Florence.
See Also: Things to visit in Florence (General)