Piazza Santo Spirito, Florence

Piazza Santo Spirito is my beloved epicenter in Florence. The Oltrarno (meaning the “other” side of the Arno River opposite the Duomo) is known as the meeting place of excellence for local Florence residents. Recently, we stayed in an apartment a few blocks away so that I could experience this beautiful place on a daily basis. On the square, the merchants are selling everything you need (or just want!) from clothing to bags to hardware to fruits/veggies. The focal point of the square is the Basilica di Santo Spirito. Built in the early 1400’s, you will probably see art students with their easels from morning light to the golden hour drawing this landmark. Go inside and appreciate every nook and cranny of this preeminent example of Renaissance architecture.

The locals shop at this market that happens every day during the week on the square but, on Sundays, the market expands with even more arts, crafts and food items to buy-mostly cash only accepted. To give you an idea of pricing, I got a lightweight knit sweater for $10 euros, a vintage scarf for $5 euros, an old table runner for $2 euros-so many treasures to discover!

The cafe life is strong in Piazza Santo Spirito. We were lucky to snag a café table for our lunch on a busy Sunday. The waitress in charge was very directive in telling exactly where to sit at our four top table-she didn’t seem thrilled to have two people taking up the whole space, but we just smiled and rolled with it. The café lunch crowd was primarily locals enjoying family dinner but there were some tourists like us that they put up with. Very reasonable prices and great meals-Thom had veal meatballs on top of mashed potatoes (the Italians never serve meatballs with pasta), and I had a lovely light salad with pears, pecorino cheese, walnuts and lettuce with an aperitivo. We enjoyed watching the diverse crowd on the square out to enjoy the beautiful warm day. This is the Italian life that I miss so much when back in the US.

Hidden gem alert: Enjoy your coffee on the covered patio overlooking the square at Loggia Rooftop Bar at Hotel Palazzo Guadagni, which is also a great place for an evening cocktail. The view is awesome and it’s just a pleasant place to be. After a cappuccino or espresso and a pastry, bring your cash to the market on the square and gather food from the various vendors for dinner. I had the best figs of my life purchased from one of the market vendors-if you are in Florence during fig season (June to September), you are very lucky. When we arrived in late September, the figs were all gone. One more reason to go back to Florence soon!

2 thoughts on “Piazza Santo Spirito, Florence

  1. This is such a great post! I’ve been to Italy many times but never to Florence. It looks like an amazing city to explore and photograph 😊 thanks for sharing and inspiring 🥰 Aiva xx

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