The historic city of Florence, Italy, is once again playing host to Pitti Uomo, a world renowned men’s fashion trade show, as well-coiffed journalists, buyers and top-tier brands flock in.
However, high-end fashion isn’t the only thing wowing the jaded fashion crowd, as many of the events are taking place in Florence’s secret wonders, historical buildings of which some are well off the typical tourist track.
If you seek a Florence filled with architectural gems, whose walls have plenty of stories to tell, look no further than our holiday guide – it’s quintessential Florence, but away from the madding crowd.
Calcio storico fiorentino
First up, catching a game of Calcio storico fiorentino is a must. It is an early form of football that originated in 16th century Italy and is thought to have kicked off in Piazza Santa Croce in Florence.
Pitti Uomo attendees were given a rare treat, being entertained with a historic procession of the Florentine Republic with five hundred forty participants wearing Renaissance costumes, reenacting the procession of 1530 when Florentines marched to bear witness to the freedom and pride of a city besieged by French troops.
It is a grand parade, where the historic costumes – some of which are original, others meticulously reproduced – take us back to the glorious period when Florence defended herself against the siege mounted by the imperial army of Charles V”, said Stefano Ricci, president of the Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana, in a released statement.
If you are visiting Florence, the competitive game makes for a fun-filled outing full of heated exchanges between the 27 players of each side and good-natured rough and tumble.
Basilica of Santa Croce
The Piazza has been the backdrop for over seven hundred years of Florentine history, embodied in the monumental complex of the Franciscan basilica. Santa Croce is of special significance as the burial place of Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Niccolo Macchiavelli, Gioachino Rossini, Vittorio Alfieri, and Ugo Foscolo. The church, however, was severely damaged by a1966 flood and has become a symbol of the disaster.
The basilica opened its doors to fashion elite for the first time ever this year for an invitation only Pitti dinner, but for tourists too, it is well worth a visit.
The “Old Palace” is the town hall of the city and played host to several fashion events at Pitti Uomo and while it is a tourist favorite, it’s worth the trip.
The Romanesque fortress is among the most impressive town halls in the region of Tuscany and overlooks a square graced with a copy of Michelangelo's David statue and on the facade, above the door, there is an intricate medallion with the monogram of Christ between two lions in a blue field, surmounted by a gable.
Built at the turn between the 13th and 14th centuries, the building was originally called the Palazzo della Signoria, after the ruling body of the Republic of Florence, it is a must-see for visitors to the city.
Situated beside the Palazzo Vecchio is the Fountain of Neptune, built to celebrate the wedding of Francesco I de' Medici with grand duchess Johanna of Austria in 1565.
A beautiful deconsecrated church in Piazza San Pancrazio which played host to a Pitti Uomo fashion event, Il Signor Nino.
The building is now home to a museum dedicated to the sculptor Marino Marini with access to the chapel being opened up in 2013.
Built in the early Christian age, the church is documented from the near 931 and was, according to historian Giovanni Villani, founded by Charlemagne. While the adjoining monastery was built in 1157, the church was enlarged in the 14th century and is well worth a trip in the 21st century.
While the famous tourist attractions such as Ponte Vecchio, the “Old Bridge,” and Florence’s Cathedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore will always draw in tourists like bees to pollen, these hidden gems should make the cut on any tourist’s visit to the golden city of Florence.