It’s a pretty well known fact that Italy, like most of Europe, goes on vacation in August. Everything closes up, everybody checks out and heads to the beach. So if you’re a tourist traveling through Florence during the month of August, you’ll just have to get used to the phrase chiuso per ferie (“closed for vacation”) plastered on the most attractive boutiques and small restaurants.
Luckily for you, Florence does have plenty open in August. The main tourist attractions and centrally located restaurants and shops generally remain open to meet the demands of summer visitors. In fact, you’ll find there are many advantages to visiting this picture-perfect city during this hot month.
Here are a few of my favorite reasons to head here and stick around (if you can stand the heat, that is…).
Less crowds and commotion
While the amount of tourists visiting the city remains more or less the same, almost all Italians are on vacation in the mountains or on the beach. While you may miss out on some interaction with the locals, you will benefit from the ease of an empty city, very quiet weekends and less hustle and bustle. Even in the main tourist areas you’ll notice the slower pace of the summer.
Summer nights and concerts
When the warmth arrives in Florence, the city’s nightlife welcomes it with open arms. Open-air concerts and parties are scheduled for every night during the summer. Granted, things do tend to slow down a bit in August, but there are still plenty of events—free and paying—to choose from.
For example, the summer concert series Live On, at the large fortress near the train station, La Fortezza da Basso, offers a wide range of concerts, the majority of which are free, as well as a place to dance and drink in the open air.
If you’re looking for something more low-key, the former prison-turned-cultural space Le Murate, right near Piazza Beccaria, offers aperitivos every Monday night. During the month of August, the post-aperitivo entertainment includes presentations of short films and documentaries from all over the world.
Ok, I know you can get gelato all year round and in all parts of Italy, but come on, what is better on a scorching hot day in the Tuscan capital (and disputed home of the luscious snack) than three solid meals of icy creamy gelato? You could start with a breakfast of fruity sorbetto topped with whipped cream, linger over a hearty lunch of nocciola (hazelnut) and pistacchio and finish off your night with some rich cioccolato fondente (dark chocolate) and crema (cream).
After all that, you may even need a gelato al caffe’ (coffee ice cream) to help digest. I’ll be writing about my Florence’s best gelato places soon, but in the meantime go to my favorite, Perche’ No (literally named Why Not?) in Via dei Tavolini, right off the main shopping street of Via Calzaiuoli. In addition to the central location, it boasts gelato made on the premises from all natural ingredients. The shop even has vegan ice cream!
Extended hours at the Palazzo Vecchio
The Palazzo Vecchio will remain open every night, except Thursdays, from 9 a.m. to midnight. These late-night openings allow the public an even more special look at one of the most important buildings of past and present Florence.