As the birthplace of the Renaissance and of artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Dante and Michelangelo, no one can doubt that all that Florence has to offer makes it a must-see for all art lovers and that every opportunity to travel there should be taken.
As everyone knows, August presents some inconveniences for those who travel to the city, starting with the large crowds and the usual heat. However, this month also offers the opportunity to enjoy Florentine nights full of dance, music, festivals and other events.
1. Come to Siena to see the Palio
An excursion to Siena from Florence is one of the best things to do if you are in the city in August, especially if you make it coincide with the celebration of the Palio. This festival attracts thousands of people every year. As you may already know, the highlight is the celebration of a horse race on a really extraordinary track. A very curious experience, so do not hesitate to book an excursion to Siena if you have the opportunity.
The Palio of Assunta, the name given to the celebration in August due to its coincidence with the religious feast of the Assumption of Mary, causes the whole city to be decorated with medieval emblems.In addition, on the afternoon of the 16th there is a large Medieval Parade in which about 600 people participate representing the 17 neighborhoods of the city.
This parade runs the route from the cathedral to the Piazza del Campo, where the draw is held to determine the starting positions of each rider. If you want to see it live you will have to try to find a place in Piazza del Campo, either for free or by paying a ticket for the side boxes.
How to get to Siena from Florence
- Given the large number of people who travel to the city for the Palio, the best option is to book an excursion to Siena so you don't have to worry about it.
- If you prefer to go on your own and you don't have a car, the train will be the best option, since both cities are very well connected.
- The last option, also easy, is to take a bus from the Busitalia Sita Nord Autostazione. There are usually buses every hour and the trip to Siena takes about one hour and fifteen minutes.
2. Discover the events of Ferragosto
If you are in Florence on August 15th you will know the Ferragosto. All over the city you will find different activities to join. During the week before and after this feast of Roman origin, many Florentines leave the city to go to the beach or to rural areas. In fact, you will find many stores closed, although this does not affect the tourist services you may need most.
These dates are full of festivals and other activities. For starters, many of the city' s best museums offer some free passes to visit them on August 15, while the attractions inside Florence's cathedral are enhanced by a concert of sacred music. The city's swimming pools also organize dances and competitions and many terraces also host celebrations.
Another popular plan is to go to Viareggio, just an hour from Florence and easily accessible by train. This coastal town organizes a 3-day celebration on the occasion of Ferragosto. Finally, it is also an ideal time to make an excursion to Cinque Terre from Florence and take a swim in the beautiful waters of the beaches of Monterosso.
3. Summer terraces to have an aperitif or simply relax on them.
If you want to enjoy the evening in Florence, especially in a month like August when it only starts to cool down (a little) at sunset, there is no better plan than going to the terraces of the city for an aperitif. Normally, the Italians do it between 19 and 21 h., a perfect time to relax while you eat and drink something.
After a day visiting places like the Duomo you feel like sitting outdoors and listening to some relaxing music. If, in addition, you have good views, the plan becomes perfect. Here are some options in case you feel like it:
- Flower al Piazzale: if you are looking for a terrace with unbeatable views of Florence (without having to buy tickets to the Dome of the Duomo), the Flower al Piazzale, located in Piazzale Michelangelo, is your best option. In addition to its gazebo, concerts and other events take place frequently during August, not to mention its great Tuscan menu.
- Flò Firenze: near the previous one is the Flò, a terrace overlooking the city. The atmosphere is quite youthful and the aperitivo timetable, accompanied by music, usually starts at 8 pm.
- B-Green: the terrace of the Hotal Baglioni, in Piazza Dell'Unita, is another of the most recommended in Florence. It is very close to Santa Maria Novella station and the views of the city are truly spectacular.
- Serre Torrigiani in piazzetta: in the piazzetta dei Tre Re, in the middle of the palaces of the historic center, is this fantastic terrace that is worth a look. The place starts to get lively in the evening and offers a very varied menu.
- Terraces on Lungarno Colombo: an area that has become fashionable among Florentines is the right bank of the Arno River. On Lungarno Colombo street several summer terraces have been opened and are worth visiting to end the day.
Between June and August there is an event that takes place on some terraces of the city: Florence from Above. It consists of six musical performances held on some of the best Florentine terraces, from that of the Museo degli Innocenti to one near Palazzo Vecchio.
4. Don't miss the Florence Dance Festival at Santa Maria Novella
Whether you are a dance lover or just want to see a show in an incomparable setting, the Florence Dance Festival is one of the most interesting activities you can attend in early August.
This festival, which begins in July, takes place in the cloister of one of the most beautiful Gothic churches in Florence, Santa Maria Novella. Several shows of all types of dance take place there, from the most traditional to the most modern.
To get there it is best to take an interesting walk after seeing the charms of the cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiore, as it is located nearby. Another option is to use some of the tourist buses that run through the city.
5. Don't miss the fantastic ice creams of Florence.
The truth is that there is no bad time to try the delicious Italian ice cream in Florence, but the heat of August is a great excuse to visit some of the best ice cream parlors in the city.
- Il Procopio: a few years ago it was the winner of the Florence Gelato Festival, so the quality of its products is guaranteed. Their gelatos are very creamy and offer a wide range of flavors. In addition, the quantities are quite generous and the price is not very high.
- Gelateria dei Neri: if you are looking for this gelateria you should just look for a line waiting at the door. Its success is due, of course, to the excellence of its ice creams, with classic flavors and other more original ones.
- Rivanero Gelato: Rivanero's motto is "laboratorio di gelato italiano" and their philosophy is to offer the best quality products with fresh ingredients. Without a doubt, they more than achieve their goal.
And if you want to delve even deeper into the culture of gelato and Italian gastronomy, you can book a pizza and gelato cooking class.
6. Join the Florentines on the Feast of San Lorenzo
The big feast of August in Florence takes place on the 10th, when San Lorenzo is celebrated. If you are lucky enough to be there you can watch a historical parade in the morning, go to the lively Piazza San Lorenzo in the afternoon, attend a classical music concert in the evening and, at all hours, taste the best traditional Italian food.
The saint has a basilica named after him in Florence, which was built in the fourth century as an episcopal see and later converted into a mausoleum by the Medici. This temple is part of some of the organized tours of Florence and is worth a visit. In addition to the above activities, for the day of San Lorenzo there are a series of free guided tours that visit the places related to the saint and explain the ancient Florentine traditions.
Finally, I recommend that when night falls you look for a place where there is not too much light to try to see in the sky the star shower known as the Perseids or the tears of San Lorenzo.
7. Forget the heat on the river beach in Florence.
With the August heat pressing as you take the tour of the Duomo or as you leave the guided tour of the Uffizi Gallery, you often miss having a beach close at hand. If you feel like cooling off a bit, Florence offers you the opportunity to go to the River Urban Beach (Piazza Giuseppe Poggi), where the banks of the Arno River have been conditioned to function as an urban beach.
The truth is that many do not advise swimming in its waters due to the pollution that the river sometimes presents. However, the area is very well equipped and you will be able to relax on the sun loungers under the umbrellas.
If you prefer, this river beach also has a comfortable beach bar and, for the more sporty, a beach volleyball court.
Swimming pools, another option for cooling off
A few meters from the city center you will find several swimming pools where you can escape the summer heat of Florence. One of the best (and easily reached by streetcar or bus) is Le Pavoniere (via della Catena 2), although the Costoli (piazza Berlinguer 2) and the Bellariva swimming pool (Lungarno Aldo Moro 6) are not far behind in terms of facilities.
8. Go to the open-air cinema at Piazzale degli Uffizi
I can't say for sure that this is the best movie theater in the world, but I am sure it is among the most beautiful. This is the Uffizi square, the central gallery of the museum that you will have seen if you have booked a guided tour of the Uffizi Gallery. There, between the end of June and mid-August, a screen is installed and the Apriti Cinema!
The screenings take place in the evening and admission is free. However, in view of the crowds, my recommendation is to arrive well in advance, as you run the risk that all the seats will be taken. The other risk of attending this event is that the surrounding wonders will prevent you from concentrating on the film you are watching.
Most of the films shown come from the various Florentine festivals that have been held throughout the year and are usually shown in original version.
9. Enter the churches for Music in the Atriums
The churches of Florence, apart from their artistic value, become during the month of August the setting for several musical performances that are sure to thrill you.
The Music in the Atriums festival (Musica sui Sagrati in Italian) organizes concerts in the atriums of several churches starting in mid-July. If you go to Santo Stefano al Ponte, Santa Croce and Santo Spiritu you will have the opportunity to attend these performances, which are not limited to religious music, but cover genres such as folk, rock, jazz or classical music.
In addition to churches, this initiative also takes place in some historic buildings, such as the Misericordia del Duomo or Palazzo Medici-Riccardi.
10. Escape the crowds by visiting these secret places in Florence
Although you should not miss the best museums in Florence, there is no doubt that the large crowds of people typical of August will make the experience not as comfortable as you would like. To escape a little of those crowds, in addition to all the plans to see and do in Florence, I suggest you go to some less visited places, but just as interesting.
- The Vasari Corridor: With more than a kilometer long, it joins the Vecchio and Pitti palaces crossing the Arno River through the Ponte Vecchio. The purpose of its construction was so that the Medici could move between the two places without having to mix with the people. Although you enter through the Uffizi Gallery, it is one of the less traveled parts of the gallery. It is necessary to get a ticket in advance.
- The Horne Museum and the Vasari House: Inside you can see the private collection of a Briton, Herbert Percy Horne, who fell in love with the art of the city. It contains works by Giotto, Lorenzetti and other great artists. In addition, the visit includes the Palazzo Corsi and, if you give advance notice, a guided tour of the Casa Vasari.
- Cenacolo di Sant'Apollonia: Although the building does not look too attractive from the outside, the frescoes inside are truly magnificent. Created by Andrea del Castagno in the mid-15th century, they depict the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection).
- Giardino dei Semplici: a few meters from the Convent of San Marco is this botanical garden, an oasis of freshness in the historic center.
- Basilica of San Miniato al Monte: being a little far from the center, about 15 minutes walk from Piazza Michelangelo, explains why few come to one of the best viewpoints in the city. The church is also considered one of the best examples of Romanesque art in the region.
Weather in Florence in August
August is a month when the heat can be oppressive in Florence. Average highs reach 32°C, but it is not uncommon for days to exceed 35°C or even reach 40°C.
Lows are only slightly more bearable, with an average of 18°C. A good tip for a good night's sleep is to make sure your hotel has air conditioning.
However, it is always a good idea to check the weather forecast shortly before you travel to be on the safe side.
Florence in August: don't forget to buy skip the line tickets
The influx of tourists in Florence during the month of August is really high. Sometimes it is even difficult to walk quietly through the narrow streets of the historic center and you can be sure that there will be queues to enter the most important monuments.
In view of this, buying tickets in advance that allow you to avoid those queues is highly recommended. In this article on tickets for the Uffizi Gallery you can check the existing types, as well as this one on tickets for the Galleria dell'Accademia.