Looking for unique things to do in Florence, away from tourists? If you like to meet locals and connect with cultural traditions, here’s one you can’t miss: Artisan Walking Tour in Florence.
It goes without saying that Italy’s main cities such as Florence are worth visiting even if they’re often crowded with tourists. You may have to search a little harder to find cool ways to access the authentic culture for a more immersive and unique experience in Florence, but at Creative Edge Travel, we make it easy for you! There are plenty of non-touristy things to do.
Read below to learn about the first tour we recommend for those who are looking to venture off-the-beaten-path in Florence for a unique experience.
Artisan Walking Tour
It was a warm summer day in Florence, Italy. I woke to bells chiming and a view over endless red-tiled rooftops that beckoned me to be like the birds swooshing low and high over this Renaissance paradise. Instead I opted for the ancient cobblestone streets that led me to meet Maria, a local guide whose passion for the amazing Florentine artisans has lead her to organize unique artisan experiences and tours.
Florence once had hundreds of artisan workshops throughout the city. They’re not nearly as numerous today, but you can still find them hidden under your nose if you know where to look. It’s in these humble workshops that you can find some of the last master artisans of ancient crafts, tirelessly dedicated to keeping the tradition alive and passing it on to anyone eager enough to become part of the legacy.
Maria opened the doors to this world of local artisans and left me mesmerized.
First, we visited a large workshop where they use stone inlay to create immaculately detailed artworks. It’s like painting with stone. I watched as the artisans selected different types of stones for the image, using the various colors and textures to mimic real life. I had heard of this “pietra dura” technique before (there’s even a museum dedicated to it in Florence), but I had no idea that I could actually be tricked to think one of these stone artworks was a painting or even a photograph!
Seeing the old photographs from the past generations working in the same workshop really brought the history to life, too. I really felt like I'd left the tourist chaos and found a very local and authentic place in Florence where I could get a close-up view of the culture.
Next, Maria lead me to another artisan workshop hidden on an ordinary street in Florence. Here I was able to meet an artisan using the same ancient technique to create her own, modern style. How intriguing to see the traditional style juxtaposed with the contemporary version!
The following stop on this unique artisan walking tour was one to remember and the perfect example of non-touristy things to do in Florence! If you’ve ever been to Florence, you’ve definitely visited the shops lined up on the Ponte Vecchio selling the most delicate gold filigree jewelry you’ve ever seen. A stone’s throw away from the bridge is an unassuming door leading to the goldsmith workshops that have been there since the Renaissance! The best part? Behind this secret door, you can buy handcrafted jewelry for half the price of what the tourists are buying right outside–and get to meet the artisan while you’re at it! If you’re looking for cool and unique things to do in Florence, you really can’t beat this.
They still create jewelry in the "Florentine Style" (seen in the below photos) using renaissance design to recreate the original jewelry.
Though I loved the dainty jewelry in the goldsmith workshop, I also loved getting to see how Florence’s famous leather shoes are still made-to-order today in this charming bottega.
On our way to the next stop on our unique walking tour in Florence, Maria popped into a restoration workshop to say hello to a sweet old man in his 80’s who was restoring an ornate frame with real gold leaf.
Take a peek at the video below!
To wrap up our surprisingly exciting and unique visits of just a handful of Florence’s artisan workshops, we veered into a quiet local street where leather is skillfully worked into really unique and beautiful bags.
Though the storefront area was full of amazing handmade items, I also fell in love with the behind-the-scenes workshop itself. Every angle and corner was so cool and artistic. You see so many shops mimicking this style, but you could feel that this place just naturally exudes this “artistic grunge” atmosphere.
After reading this description, can you see why we love to recommend this for something unique and non-touristy to do in Florence? This Artisan Walking Tour truly immerses you into the soul of the city! You don’t have to buy anything, but I dare you to hold yourself back! Resisting such quality creations handmade by an artisan you got to meet yourself should be a crime!
The Artisan Walking Tour is a private experience just for you and can be personalized based on your interests. There are so many different artisans to explore in Florence. Some guests just opt for the antique style artisans but in Florence there are also many contemporary artisans and designers that make for a fun artisan shopping tour! To top it off, you can combine an artisan experience with a food and wine tasting at a local market.
For something really cool and unique to do in Florence, you can also book a hands-on workshop with an artisan. Imagine creating your own masterpiece to bring back home, with the memories of an Italian master teaching you every step!
If you were looking for unique things to do in Florence when you clicked this article, you’ve definitely found an experience to add to your list! Ready to book your Artisan Walking Tour for your trip to Florence? Just get in touch here!
Get my ULTIMATE Guide for the Solo Woman in Italy here!