It’s that time of year again. The views through our office windows taunt us, and we crave fresh air more than a piping bowl of pasta. Nine out of ten doctors (ok, bloggers) agree, there’s no avoiding spring fever, only remedies. We happen to have just the prescription for a serious case of spring fever in Florence. Here are five of our favorite free remedies for your spring symptoms.
Obviously! There’s no better way to celebrate blue skies and short sleeves than wandering along stone-laid paths through blossoming flora and fauna. The big-hitting gardens of Florence (Boboli, Bardini, and the Botanicals) come with a ticket price and a crowd. Instead, try out the lesser-known gardens of Florence. Few guests. Free entrance. More fresh air for you. Done. Here are two of our favorites:
Giardino delle Rose, Viale Giuseppe Poggi 2: The rose garden is tucked between the San Niccolo neighborhood and Piazzale Michelangelo. Most tourists, blazing up the hill to snatch their postcard pic of the city, will miss this fragrant little gem and literally not stop to smell the roses. But their loss is your gain. The garden boasts ancient roses as well as new breeds, not to mention stunning views of Florence framed in flowers. Even in the off-season, this one’s a stunner.
Giardino dell’ Iris, Viale dei Colli & Piazzale Michelangelo: The second garden in Poggi’s aforementioned plan is another FFF favorite. The easiest access to the garden can be found where Viale dei Colli opens to Piazzale Michelangelo on the east side of the piazza. Bursting with more than 2,500 varieties of Irises, Florence’s signature flower, this garden is particularly sacred to the city.
The 5K trend is definitely not one that these lazy ladies have caught on to. But if aimless strolls and mapped-out walks become the next fad, we’ll be the most fashionable gals in town! Try out these spring strolls (with maps and directions included by yours truly) to satisfy that restless leg syndrome.
Villa Crawl: For a glimpse into spring-fever cures of 16th-century aristocrats, visit the gardens of the Medici Villas in Castello, just outside of Florence proper but still on the city bus lines. Galavant around three villas in one sunny afternoon. Off the beaten path, no one will even be around to judge you playing Duke and Duchess make-believe.
Fiesole: Spring is the time to finally venture up to the village that watches Florence from above. You can’t really go wrong aimlessly strolling Fiesole, where quiet streets and stunning views await at every turn. If you prefer a route, however, we’ve got you covered.
Castle Hike: A FFF original, Meg, our grad school buddies and I forged this hike our first spring in Italy. Inspired by castle views outside our library in Settignano, we decided to ditch the books and head for the hills. This hike will not only lead you to the majestic Castle of Vincigliata, former summer home of Queen Victoria, but past even more castles, villas and churches.
I don’t think I really ever believed my mom when she told me that fruit and vegetables were God’s candy until I moved to Italy. Fresh, beautiful produce abounds in markets, supermarkets and street stands. Suddenly, come spring, lunch starts looking like this….
…and life is perfect. And you never want to leave Florence. Ever. (Well, at least until August.)
Pack a picnic, grab a soccer ball, head to a park and call it good. The cobblestone jungle of Florence may not initially come off as the most park-friendly city, but it seems to me that the scarcity of green space in the center makes these finds even better.
Cascine Park: The Cascine is the primary park in Florence. Located just to the west of the city center, along the north bank of the Arno, it is an easy jaunt from town. With acres of rolling lawns, jogging paths, playgrounds and even carnival rides, it’s everything your spring-starved self could want.
Arno trail: A stroll along the Arno to the east of the city center is also full of spring surprises. Expect to find trails, playgrounds, dog parks, and snack stands. Oh, and ping-pong tables!
5. Light-Jacket Nights
Not only was spring in Italy a game-changer for me on fruits and vegetables, but on my opinion of Sunday nights as well. Typically, Sunday around 7 p.m. I feel my tummy start to turn with dread of Monday morning. For Italians, who truly appreciate every moment of every day, Monday couldn’t be further from their minds come Sunday evening. Instead, on warm spring evenings, families take to the streets after Sunday dinner for a stroll. Parents push strollers through the streets, elderly couples hold hands and hobble along, children run in circles in the piazze, and, occasionally, walkers pause to listen to the corner street performer who sets the soundtrack for their stroll.
Finding yourself with some free time during the week nights? Indulge in one of our favorite free activities – night museuming! There is something inexplicably magical about touring galleries at twilight. With a little proper prior planning and research into Meg’s museum-hopping guide, as well as the rules of our beloved Bacione di Firenze, you’re sure to score some exciting spring evenings in museums (for free of course)!
Spring is the season of new life, new possibilities, open-toed shoes, and strawberry gelato. Spring fever is inevitable. But, with a few doses of gardens, parks, and passegiate, you are sure to be cured in no time. And if all else fails, just take a nap in the sun like this guy.