Being situated in the San Niccolò neighbourhood has many advantages but maybe the thing we love the most is being so close to some of the most beautiful gardens of Florence.  The Bardini Gardens, Rose Garden and also Boboli are all within walking distance from our front door and now we can add another of Florence’s gems to our list of places for you to walk to during your next stay.

Lying below the popular lookout of Piazzale Michelangelo leading down to the San Niccolò Tower in Piazza Poggi is the area known to all Florentines as ‘Le Rampe’.  Built between 1872 & 1876, thanks to architect Giuseppe Poggi, who had initially presented his urban plan to celebrate the choice of Florence as the capital of Italy in 1865.  His plan called for interventions in several parts of the city, including the arrangement of the hill between Piazza San Niccolò and Porta Romana.

And so, Viale dei Colli, Piazzale Michelangelo and Le Rampe were born: this latter architecture connected the square to Porta San Niccolò thanks to a system of staircases, streets, plants and fountains.  Unfortunately, over the years the difficulty in supplying water and the lack of maintenance led to a gradual abandonment of the fountains.

However, Le Rampe has returned to its former glory thanks to an impressive restoration, begun last July by the Municipality of Florence and financed by the Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze Foundation for 2.5 million euros. A new water system has been installed as well as restoration of the caves and the vegetation which was fundamental in Poggi’s original project. 

The Ramps were inaugurated on Saturday 18 May but unfortunately, due to heavy rain, the original light show and circus activities were postponed and so we will have to wait for the sun to return to really enjoy the party.

FOTO Enrico Ramerini / CGE Fotogiornalismo

The restoration has focused on three aspects: the conservation of the architectural component of the system (caves, cliffs and tanks), the construction of the new water system and the recovery of vegetation.

“The hydraulic system is fed from the aquifer and then ends up in the Arno river”- explained Giorgio Caselli of the Florence City Fine Arts Office – “Once activated the timers can be adjusted so as to allow the fountains to function during the day”.

The water will in fact be introduced from the top, where the lily and the shell are visible, to fill the first tank and will then flow into the three caves. From here it will pass into the second basin and through the waterfall, about 5 meters high.  It will fall into the basin below and into the Five Caves to then merge into the oval basin and the single cave. Finally all the water will flow into the large basin of the Tower of San Niccolò and into the two side basins.


The recovery of botanical species has also been very important. Following the original design guidelines, more than 1200 semi-aquatic and aquatic plants have been replaced and 200 species transplanted between vines and Iris, as well as 900 square meters of lawn with flower beds.

A total of 27,000 hours of work including the removal of 100 quintals of weeds removed and the relocation of 1,200 plants has seen an incredible transformation of this important location in Florence.   The new restoration of Le Rampe will contribute to making the ascent on foot to Piazzale Michelangelo much more pleasant, creating a green corner on the banks of the Arno: an important point of attraction for the San Niccolò area.

You can watch a beautiful video of the restoration here.


Leonardo da Vinci or simply Leonardo, was an Italian polymath of the Rennaissance whose areas of interest included invention, drawing, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography.he is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time. Sometimes credited with the inventions of the parachute, helicopter, and tank, many historians and scholars regard Leonardo as the prime exemplar of the “Universal Genius” or “Renaissance Man”, an individual of “unquenchable curiosity” and “feverishly inventive imagination”, and he is widely considered one of the most diversely talented individuals ever to have lived.

You may have heard that on May 2nd, 2019, Italy and the world will honour the day, 500 years ago, when Leonardo da Vinci died.  There are a host of celebrations and exhibitions already taking place around the world, from Rome, London to New York and of course here in Florence. 

Currently showing in Florence at Palazzo Strozzi is the exhibition, ‘VERROCCHIO, IL MAESTRO DI LEONARDO’, a celebration of Andrea del Verrocchio, an emblematic artist of the Florentine Renaissance, whose workshop is associated with best-known artists, Domenico del Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, Perugino and his most famous pupil of all, Leonardo da Vinci.

This major exhibition, open until the 14th July 2019, reconstructs Leonardo’s early artistic career and interaction with his master, Verrocchio.

With a special section, also at the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, the exhibition showcases over 120 paintings, sculptures and drawings thanks to outstanding loans from the world’s leading museums and collections.

Seven works by Leonardo, some on display in Italy for the very first time illustrate the early career of Leonardo da Vinci, and the exhibition provides an overview of artistic works in Florence from roughly 1460 to 1490, the age of Lorenzo the Magnificent.

The exhibition is promoted and organised by the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi and the Musei del Bargello in conjunction with the National Gallery in Washington DC (which will be hosting the show from 29 September 2019 to 2 February 2020) with the support of the Comune di Firenze, the Regione Toscana and the Camera di Commercio di Firenze.  With a contribution from the Fondazione CR Firenze.  Main sponsor : Intesa Sanpaolo.

Andrea del Verrocchio, Madonna and Child (detail), 1470 or c.1475 © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie/Christoph Schmidt

When Leonardo was 64, he left Italy for France in 1516 after his patron Giuliano de’Medici died. He was unwell and his hand too crippled to paint, but he and his admiring new patron, Francis I, the youthful king of France, became close friends who discussed everything from philosophy to art, architecture and engineering. 

In his Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, Giorgio Vasari, writing in 1550, recorded that Leonardo actually died in the king’s arms, with the king “supporting his head to give him such assistance and do him such favour as he could, in the hope of alleviating his sufferings.” This account by Vasari inspired artists like Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres to paint, that death scene with the king in 1818. 

“The death of Leonardo,” Ingres, 1818

In his carefully researched ‘Leonardo Da Vinci, The Biography’ (Simon and Schuster, 2017). Walter Isaacson writes, “With Leonardo, nothing is so simple,” Leonardo was buried in the cloister of the Church of Saint Florentin at Amboise, “but the current location of his remains is another mystery,” writes Isaacson. The church was demolished in the early 19th C., and, although excavation decades later revealed bones, they are usually and cautiously described as Leonardo’s “presumed remains.”

The Leicester Codex of Leonardo da Vinci

One of the main events of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death begins this October at the Uffizi Galleries of Florence, with the exhibition “The Leicester Codex of Leonardo da Vinci: Water as Microscope of Nature.” The 72-page Codex, which discusses the movement of water, fossils, and moonlight (among other topics) is being loaned by Bill Gates, who purchased it in 1990 for over $30 million.

Florence is definitely the place to be this year to celebrate the genius that was Leonardo da Vinci!


9 MARCH – 14 JULY, 2019

PALAZZO STROZZI – Daily 10.00 – 20.00, Thursdays 10.00 – 23.00 

Exhibition also open on Public Holidays. 

Reservations : +39 055 2469600 –


This past week I was able to visit the SecretCloset Outlet.
My first impression started from the outside; the building is beautiful! It is located right near the San Niccolò area and was very easy to walk to from Palazzo San Niccolò. Even though I went to do work, I felt like a high class luxury shopper having to be buzzed into the building. Once inside it is set up similar to a showroom, but for a majority of the shoes there was only one pair left. The SecretCloset includes brands like Steve Madden, Jeffrey Campbell, Buffalo, UGG, Naked Wolf, and Dr. Martens.

The discounts on the shoes were amazing! All of the shoes were anywhere from 30% to 80% off of the original price (end of season styles). These particular shoes were all from the winter collections from these brands, and the store changes the shoes every week. I knew it would be hard to work for a company that specializes in some of my favorite shoes, but with these great prices I’m going to end up going home with a much heavier suitcase!

To get a pass to enter the SecretCloset, you can contact the Reception desk in Palazzo San Niccolò to get one! It is a free, exclusive pass that anyone can get! Once you visit once, you can ask the workers there for a membership card that allows you to come back whenever you want. The card is free, but takes a few weeks to receive. The closet is only open on Friday and Saturday for right now, but will open for more hours in the spring and summer. To keep up to date with the new arrivals and sales, follow us on Instagram!

Location: Via di Ricorboli, Florence

Hours: Saturday + Sunday 10:30am-7:30pm

Instagram: secretcloset.firenze

by Julia Wright


On February 17th in the year 1530, Florence was besieged by the troops of Carlo V and Pope Clemente VII, who wanted to bring the Medici Family back to Florence. A game of  ‘soccer’  was played to mock and make fun of the enemy.   This was not the same soccer as the one we know today, but the historical game known as Calcio Storico: an ancient game, that according to some people was played by Romans, called Harpastum and played to keep the body trained. The Florentines decided to demonstrate to the army of Carlo V that life in the city was the same and they were not going to stop doing what they always did. So they decided to play the game in front of the troops. One team was dressed in white and the other in green and the prize for the winner was a calf.

Nobody knows how the match ended or which team won – it doesn’t matter….what really matters is that the game played on that day will be remembered as a great event in the history of Florence. To remember that fateful day, this Sunday 17th February 2019 the players of “Calcio Storico Fiorentino” will return to the same field in Piazza Santa Croce square to honour the brave warriors who preceded them.  Santa Croce square will be as it was in the 16th century to remind people of the events of that important day.

“The match played is an anthem to Florence, a symbol that is part of the identity of each Florentine and that adds a sense of belonging to our city.”




“Despite the fact that I had been excitedly telling everyone that I would be studying abroad in Florence for a semester, it didn’t sink in until I had lugged my suitcases up three flights of stairs in the early September humidity, and caught a glimpse of the Duomo from my balcony window. At the program orientation they discussed how it might take time to adjust and prepared us for various aspects of culture shock that students usually experience. Initially, these external influences didn’t really seem to affect me. My curiosity and eagerness to explore my new home led me down unknown cobblestone alleys, discovering amazing dishes that I severely butchered the pronunciation of. I loved everything Italy had to offer – amazing, fresh food; rich culture; and convenient access to the rest of Europe. Italy was spectacular, way better than charmless, concrete clad America.
Once classes started things began to feel more normalized, and I settled into a new routine consisting of pasta and gelato twice a day. As the previously unknown streets became familiar and favorite cafes were established, the initial honeymoon haze started to wane. I became aware of the absence of little aspects of home that I relied on to feel comfortable. For instance, I had no point of reference for any brands at the nearest Pam Local and the had to hunt through several pharmacies to find one that carried face wash. These novel experiences, not the different language or unfamiliarity with the city, were what reminded me daily that I was in a place very far away from home.
When preparing to study abroad I knew I wanted to do everything possible to take full advantage of the opportunity to be in Europe for an entire semester. I had a list of the places I wanted to go, and the weekends planned out to do so. What I wasn’t prepared for was how exhausting traveling practically every weekend would be. I pushed past the fatigue and sickness to explore new cities that I had dreamed about for so long. It continued to surprise me how places could appear very similar, but beyond surface-level experiences, are quite unique. Embracing interactions with locals while using public transportation, seeking restaurant recommendations, and participating in local and traditional celebrations provided invaluable insight into the daily life of each place I visited.
One experience that enriched my semester in Florence was the opportunity through my program to have dinner with a local Italian family. Every Tuesday my friend and I would walk to our family’s apartment on the outskirts of the city with empty stomachs, prepared for a decadent home cooked meal. During each visit I gained a much richer understanding of Tuscany and the Italian lifestyle in general from our lively, inquisitive discussions. While sometimes heavily aided by Google Translate on both sides, I was fascinated by their commentary every time. I loved discovering aspects of American life that were common place to me but seemed completely absurd to them, and visa versa.
Additionally, I was fortunate to be able to participate in an internship with Your Place in Florence. I had previous work experience in hospitality and marketing and was eager to see these fields approached through a different, Italian lens. From my time spent at Palazzo San Niccolò I gained an appreciation for the finer attention to details and aspects of running a local business compared to the more corporate environment I was a part of in the States. I thouroghly enjoyed collaborating with other members of the team while working on projects, and learned so much from their unique insights.
Beyond the material covered in my courses and cities explored, I learned so many things about myself during my time abroad. I began my semester in Florence as an obvious outsider and soon came to call it home. I cannot wait to see how my perspectives of my home in America have changed when I return based on what I have experienced this semester.”

Florence Hot Air Balloon Festival

Get to experience the city of Florence through a perspective unlike any other. A relatively new addition to Florence, the Festival delle Mongolfiere is sure to brighten your stay.

The festival began only two years ago and is held just a short distance from the city centre. Accessible by foot, train, bus, or taxi, make your way over to the Ippodromo del Visarno on October 13th-14th or the following weekend of the 20th-21st to witness the giants of the air light up the Florence sky.

There are many activities for both children and adults that are sure to captivate. For an unparalleled view of the city, take a ride in a free-flying or tethered balloon. For those that prefer the comfort of the ground, have your breath taken away by a musical performance of colourful balloons illuminating the night sky. If you want an even closer look, let reality fade as you explore the inside of two grounded balloons and hear the fantastic stories as told by the staff. Finally, for those travelling with children, the festival offers various free workshops and activities that allow creativity to run free.

photos by

Hot Air Balloon Festival 13-14, 20-21 October, 2018

For more details and the whole program, visit


On June 24, Florence will celebrate St. John the baptist with a feast day that includes different cultural events throughout the day. The whole city is apart of the celebration and you will be able to see Florence come alive with traditions that display their ancestral history. In ancient times, noble lords and ladies would donate candles to the churches as a way to celebrate St. John. This tradition of receiving candles still continues today. The Archbishop of Florence will accept the offering of candles and everyone will follow him into the cathedral for mass at 10:30am. This date also marks the opening date of the San Niccolò tower, which is only opened to the public for the summer months.

The final match for Calcio Storico Fiorentino is held during this celebration. The match will be between two teams from historical neighborhoods of Florence and will begin after the parade at 5:00pm. The historical parade will begin in Piazza Santa Maria Novella and make its way toward Piazza Santa Croce at 4:00pm. After a day of festivities, the people of Florence will gather around the arno river and various places in the city. The last event to celebrate St. John are fireworks which are launched from Piazzale Michelangelo. This national holiday is full of fun activites and historical traditions which can allow the soul of Florence to shine through.


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Palazzo san Niccolò Firenze




June is an exciting time to find yourself in the city of Florence. Book your apartment in Florence!

The rich history and culture is found through a 16th century sport, Calcio Storico Fiorentino, which is a combination of soccer, rugby, and wrestling. All of the matches are held at Piazza Santa Croce. This square has been the location of all of the matches of Calcio Storico. The square is covered in dirt as a way to “recreate” the setting from years past. There are four teams from the historical neighborhoods of Florence who play each other in two playoffs and then the winners play in the final match. The playoffs are played over the weekend of June 10 and 11. The first match will be on June 10th, where the “greens” of San Giovanni will challenge the “reds” of Santa Maria Novella at 5pm. On June 11th, the “whites” of Santo Spirito will go against the “blues” of Santa Croce at 5pm.

The final match is held on June 24, which is patron saint’s feast day for St. John the Baptist. This day is full of celebration for the people of Florence and the spectators of the match. There is a parade for all of the players of Calcio Storico that begins at Piazza Santa Maria Novella and travels through florence towards Piazza Santa Croce. The parade starts around 4pm and will lead to the final match which begins at 5pm. The day of festivities ends with a night of fireworks which are launched from Piazzale Michelangelo. Tickets for all matches will go on sale June 7 online from Boxoffice Toscana and the cost varies from year to year.


Poster by
Palazzo San Niccolò Firenze





Imagine riding around Florence or admiring the vineyards from the comfort of a vintage side-car!  Our newest exerience offers one of the most unique ways to admire the Renaissance city and take in the Tuscan country-side. Jump in the comfortable side-car and let our friendly bikers take you safely  around Florence and the Chianti hill-tops. Choose from a breakfast tour through the city,  a wine tour and Tuscan lunch or perhaps you prefer the sunset ride which offers an excellent opportunity for photography enthusiasts.

Contact our friendly staff and we will be happy to take care of all the details.  You just need to bring your sense of adventure!


Phone: +39 055 244509







Art can be found in every corner of Florence, and today that corner was the courtyard of Palazzo San Niccolò. A group of aspiring artists gathered outside where they created uniquely different works of art of the scenery around them. They all spread out over the courtyard depending on their own individual style and preferences letting their creativity flow onto the canvases before them. This group of 10 strang ers have traveled from all over in order to learn from an impressionist artist, Marla Baggetta, who is the featured artist for this Florence excursion. Debra Zamperla and her husband Ivan are the owners and coordinators of Artensity, which was created in order to host art workshops in the beautiful city of Florence. They have been bringing groups of artist to Florence since 2013. Over the years the program has grown and adapted by including more activities for the participants of the workshops. All of the students have different experiences when it comes to art. Some have studied art for their entire life, while others have just seen art as one of their hobbies. They all come from different backgrounds and had different stories to share. An orthodontist from Florida, decided to come in order to pursue her passion for art that she has never had time for, while an architect from Charlotte, NC., has been taking art workshops for years. The group is staying at Palazzo San Niccolò in Florence for 8 days and each day has been planned and organized by Debra and her husband.

One of their days was devoted entirely to the beautiful courtyard of Palazzo San Niccolò. They began the workshop by watching Marla Baggetta demo a painting of a corner of the courtyard using pastels. Marla and Debra have been working together for over a decade and have been to Florence together for workshops many times. While Marla gave her demo, everyone was silent as they watched her make colorful strokes onto the canvas. It only took her about an hour to create a masterpiece which was quickly bought by one of the participants. Marla went to art school in Pasadena, Calif., where she perfected her technique and created a name for herself in the impressionist art community. Many of the workshop participants follow Marla online and have been to her art exhibitions before. This group loves to stay at San Niccolò because of the amazing architecture and scenery the building has to offer. They are able to paint just outside the door of their apartment and create beautiful works of art.

Baylee Earnest