Here’s a new way to re-discover Florence out of the center and see the city’s lesser-known side that’s no less rich in urban charm. Whether you’re a local who wants to explore or you simply want to post Duomo-less stories, just hop on the tram like a wanderer!
Like many Florentines, I’ll admit that I was perplexed at reading the words “Isolotto” and “tour” in the same sentence, as if the neighborhood couldn’t possibly be a tourist destination. And yet, the very purpose of these special tours is to awaken curiosity and promote these more niche corners of town. So, off I went on the Isolotto tour with an open mind. Aboard the tram, I allowed myself to be moved by the flow of information delivered enthusiastically by Sara Papini (a guide with a capital “G”!). Along the way, we saw the first trees planted by locals, now a playground for kids, the church, the market with its mirrored roof, green-painted houses, apartment blocks with narrow balconies, stone facades and benches positioned for gossip. All this is paired with surprises, photo opportunities and local characters, all free of charge for the Florence curious.
A cultural project designed by Caterina Paolucci and Olivia Turchi for Associazione Via Maggio, Tram-e-d’Arte / Florence by Tram started life as a website www.tramedartefirenze.it that provides information about 200 places of interest—top attractions, museums and churches, parks and sports, shows and culture, and shops and markets—that can be reached within 20 minutes on foot from stops along Florence’s first two tramlines. A QR code can be found at each tram stop that directs users to a map showing all the nearby attractions. Upcoming dates for free tours in English: May 14 + May 28.
ROUTE 1 / Isolotto: the soul of a neighborhood
Isolotto was originally a working-class district built after the war, which saw the likes of Michelucci design houses in a unique architectural style. Nature dominates the neighborhood, where people like the artist and choreographer Virgilio Sieni decided to settle down after traveling the world, bringing meaningful art and culture to the local community. Check out the street art next to a 13th-century tower house and the “school in the forest”, a magical place accessed over a tiny bridge.
ROUTE 2 / Novoli: past + present gems
This densely populated neighborhood will surprise you with its history, dating back to when Augustinian friars settled here with an oratory and continuing with the Demidoff family, who bought the convent and converted it into a villa. Visit the new San Donato gardens near the university campus, including the social sciences library, and the hotly debated architecture of the courthouse.
ROUTE 3 / Mugnone: music, fairs + painters
The tram tour begins by Porta al Prato and leads to the horticulture garden, highlighting the years when Florence became the capital of Italy and architect Giuseppe Poggi masterminded a place to regenerate the city. Take a walk along the Mugnone, discovering gems such as the Russian Orthodox Church and the Palazzo dei Pittori, where the Swiss painter Arnold Böcklin devised five versions of his famous work Die Toteninsel (Isle of the Dead) inspired by the English Cemetery in Piazzale Donatello.