Glass beadmaking, or lampworking, is an Italian tradition that dates back to the 14th century. If you are looking for a unique and memorable experience, try your hand at this ancient craft right here where it all began. A wonderful American couple that have been living here in Florence for years offer a series of interesting classes that also includes beading and jewelry design. They have both a retail store and a glass studio, located just a stones throw from one another in the charming Oltrarno section of Florence.
Enjoy a walk in The "Oltrarno" district (the other side of the Arno River)which lie hidden from the hurrying tourist. In this area you find old "laboratories", magical places where from the Renaissance right up to today this precious manual tradition has been handed down from generation to generation. Mosaics, wood, shoes, violins..
You will really enjoy walking in this popular area of the city, you can stop at Cabiria Caffe for a drink in Piazza Santo Spirito or stop for lunch or for a pizza at "La Mangiatoia" a cheap and friendly self service where you can find very good florentine specilities!
In the Oltrarno area, start at the Porta San Niccolo. This wonderful tower is all that is left of the city walls in this Oltrarno location just below the Piazzale Michelangelo. Remains of the city walls begin a bit to the southwest of this location....follow Via del Basitoni and you'll see them. Walk through the opening at the Porta San Miniato
We were hating Florence. The crowds! The tiny narrow streets! Kamikaze mopeds! It was too much after the peace of our trip to Tuscany.
We sought (and found) solace in Oltarno, the neighborhood across the river - hence its name. While there is no real blockbuster sight here, it is a very pleasant getaway from the hullabaloo of Florence's tourism engine. There are also some wonderful panini shops here. I had an excellent one at a small corner shop where the Piazza di Santo Spirito almost cnnects to Via Del Presto di San Martino.
On one of my first days in Florence I set out to walk around the city. I crossed the Arno to explore the "Oltrarno," the less touristy part of the city. I encountered some stairs and paths and decided to start climbing. I saw peeks through the trees at the view that was unfolding as I climbed higher and higher. At the top I entered Piazzale Michelangelo. It has the most spectacular view of the city. On a clear day you can see everything, all the way to the hill town of Fiesole on the other side of Florence. You can also find a breathtaking sunset there every evening. The sun sets behind the Ponte Vecchio and reflects along the water of the Arno River. Piazzale Michelangelo truly is my favorite place on earth.