The Oltrarno district is one of Florence tourist attractions that is often overlooked by visitors. Translated as “the other side of the Arno” it is known for its artisans workshops, the Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens and some beautiful churches. A stone throw away from the crowded Ponte Vecchio, Oltrarno offers a glimpse of a quieter and more authentic part of Florence.
The Palazzo Pitti is a Renaissance palace that belonged to Luca Pitti, a Florentine banker, that was bought by the Medici family in 1549 and became their main residence. Today it houses the Palatine Gallery, which collection boasts more than 500 paintings mostly by Renaissance masters, such as Titian, Perugino, Raphael, Correggio, and many others.
Another beautiful place that is worth a visit is the Boboli Gardens. Spread over eleven acres it is one of the biggest parks in central Florence. Laid out in the 16th century, the Boboli Gardens still remain many original features: ancient Roman sculptures, ponds, grottoes, fountains and meadows. From one of the garden’s terraces you can admire a majestic view over the city.
Piazzale Michelangelo is another famous spot for snapping great photos with panoramic views of Florence. From there you can see Il Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi, and the mountains in the distance.
In the Oltrarno district you will find some magnificent churches: the Florence tourist attractions with its breathtakingly beautiful early Renaissance frescoes and the Basilica of Santa Maria del Santo Spirito with a wooden crucifix by Michelangelo.
For more than 500 years this area of Florence has been home to local artisans. Bookbinders, paper makers, sculptors, and cobblers, – many of them still carry on old traditions and work from their small workshops hidden in the maze of narrow streets of Oltrarno. Here you can find excellent authentic souvenirs to take home and see the masters at work. At La Carta di Omero (via Romana 58r) artisans make marbled paper and bind books exactly the way it was done centuries ago. The Filippini e Paoletti (Piazza S. Spirito 12) workshop creates beautiful Florentine mosaics from Murano glass and at L’Ippogrifo (Via Santo Spirito, 5r) old style prints are made using etchings.
Photos by: Steve Harris, Ricardo Zappala, Olga Sarmale