Let’s discover some unusual things to do in Florence, a popular city filled with world-famous attractions. Discover quirky museums, unique Florentine crafts, and places that you’re bound to be amazed by. Welcome to the unusual side of Florence!

The curious traveller can still find hidden corners and unexpected sights thanks to some tours that delve into its mysteries.

12 Unusual Things to see and do in Florence

1. Discover Florence’s Wine Windows

There are over 150 buchette del vino in Florence. What are they? Tiny windows, shaped like little doors, in the walls of noble palaces around Florence’s historic centre. Their position is unusual, being set at hand level, and large enough for a glass or a bottle to pass through. From there the Florentine families, who produced wine in their estates in the country, would sell directly to the people. Today some of the wine windows are still being used -> see the official page to find out more and find out the locations.

On this Guided Tour you’ll be exploring the wine windows and have a glass of wine served directly from an ancient wine window of a Florentine palace.

unusual things to do in florence

2. Fall in love with contemporary art at Marini Museum

The Marini Museum is an outstanding example of contemporary art, beautifully exhibited in an ancient edifice that once served as a church and later as a tobacco factory. Marino Marini was a Pistoia-born sculpture and painter, famous for his renderings of knights and horses, inspired by Etruscan heritage art. His moving and intense works perfectly interact with the setting, leaving a durable impression in anyone who visits this special place.

=> With the same ticket you can visit the Cappella Ruccellai, a Renaissance masterpiece by Alberti. See the official site for info.

art exhibit in florence 2023
Marino Marini Museum, Florence

3. River Arno boat cruise

How about seeing Florence from a different perspective? Navigate the waters of the river Arno and see the Ponte Vecchio as you pass by.

Glide under the iconic Ponte Vecchio bridge and across the Arno River on a Florence river cruise. Hop aboard your barchetto—a small traditional boat that is one of only four still operating in the city – and see Florence from the water.

unmissable things to do in florence
Ponte Vecchio, Florence

4. The Dark Side of Florence Walking Tour

On this 2-hour Walking Tour of Mysterious Florence historic centre, starting from Santa Maria Novella Square, you’ll be learning about the plague, mysterious ghosts and gruesome murders in the city of the Renaissance. You’ll also hear about the darker side of Leonardo da Vinci’s genius. It’s a different way to explore the Medieval streets of the city where Dante used to walk, and discover some of its juicy secrets.

=> 10 Non-Touristy Things to do in Florence!

5. Innocenti Museum – An unusual thing to see in Florence

The Innocenti Museum in Piazza SS. Annunziata is certainly one of the unexpected and unusual things to see in Florence. It’s dedicated to the institution of the Innocenti, or ‘innocents’, a hospital-orphanage where orphans and indigent children were taken in and raised. The Ospedale degli Innocenti, designed by Brunelleschi, offers a glimpse into the history of the institution, which has been an important part of Florence‘s life for six centuries.

6. Exploring the Secret Rooms in Palazzo Vecchio

The Palazzo Vecchio has been the seat of political power in Florence since the 14th century. A handsome building that stands in pride of place in Piazza Signoria, you can still visit the interior of the “old palace” and roam its elegant rooms where the Medici used to live.

But there’s a very special tour that really reveals its secrets and history in fascinating details: the Secret Passage Tours invites you to explore hidden rooms like the studiolo of Francesco I de’ Medici, the passionate alchemist who started the Uffizi and spent here many hours hiding studying the transmutation of metals. Definitely one of the most intriguing rooms and unusual things to see in Florence.

unusual things to do in florence
The ‘studiolo’, one of the secret rooms in Palazzo Vecchio

7. See the Buontalenti Grotto in Boboli Gardens

And, for more alchemy-related things, you cannot miss the grotto in Boboli! This grotto, created by Buontalenti is one of Boboli Gardens highlights. It’s hidden away near the entrance from Palazzo Pitti, where the Corridoio Vasariano starts. Unfortunately you can’t walk inside, but from the gate you can still peek in to see the weird and wonderful interior. The walls are covered by sponge-like decorations and the ceiling has a trompe d’oeil crammed with exotic animals and plants. Alchemy and the four elements are the main theme of the grotto, where the statues of the Slaves by Michelangelo were originally placed (today they are at the Accademia Gallery).

unusual things to do in florence
Buontalenti Grotto, Boboli Garden, Florence

8. See the oldest pharmacy in Italy: The Antica Farmacia Santa Maria Novella

Officina Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. This historic pharmacy, one of the oldest in Europe, looks stunning. Entering its rooms filled with the scent of their artisanal soaps and perfumes, is like exploring another era. Once the monks of Santa M. Novella Church prepared their rose water in these rooms (thought to be a disinfectant!).

The actual perfumery dates back to 1612, when it was known around Europe and served queens and nobles around the world.

You find it in via della Scala, 16a, a few steps from the main train station.

9. Visit a Monumental Cemetery with a view

The Cimitero delle Porte Sante is a vast monumental cemetery located behind the beautiful Church of San Miniato, right atop the hill above Piazzale Michelangelo. A secluded, yet panoramic place, where famous Florentines and Italians are buried. The one you might know is Carlo Collodi, the creator of Pinocchio. The cemetery was built in 1848, and hosts monumental tombs, statues among cypress trees. The style are varied: mainly neoclassic, neo-gothic chapels and liberty decorations.

florence in june

10. Pay homage to Botticelli’s burial place

Not many venture to the Ognissanti Church, where the great Sandro Botticelli is buried. His body rests right next to his muse Simonetta Vespucci, the noblewoman who is likely to have given her features to the Venus painting. This was in fact the church of the Vespucci family – that paid a lot of money for their private Chapel frescoed by Ghirlandaio. Botticelli also worked in Ognissanti church, leaving a magnificent fresco – “Saint Augustine in his study” – that you can admire today undisturbed by crowds.

botticelli florence
Ognissanti Church, where Botticelli is buried

11. Opificio Pietre Dure Museum

This institution is as Florentine as it gets. It was established in 1588 by Ferdinando I de’ Medici for the making of furniture decorated with semiprecious stones (aka ‘pietre dure‘ ). Objects decorated in this fashion gradually became very popular, and the Medici invested in this craft and produced elegant pieces for their home and to give as gifts to European nobility. The Museum shows the history of this institution, presenting original pieces produced from 17th century to modern time. It also has a collection of tools to teach about the different production phases of intarsia and inlay work -> see official site.

=> Check out some Curious Fact about the Medici family

12. Lose yourself in the Museum of Illusions

Something definitely different and unusual to do in Florence: the Museo delle Illusioni. Scientific inventions, laws of physics and quirky artworks are displayed in a way that challenges out perceptions. It’s an intriguing installation that defies common sense, with games of light and shadows, and an upside down room. A place where everything is not what it seems. With a permanent exhibition of 600 square meters, it’s an entertaining and educational experience, and perfect for kids of all ages!

=> Most Beautiful Churches in Florence to visit

=> See the Best of Florence in 3 Days: a complete itinerary