One of the very best things about Florence is how walkable it is. I never missed my car and the city never felt too large to manage by foot (though a bike is always fun too). Finding little hidden corners was one of my favorite past-times, an activity particularly suited to Sundays when much of the rest of the city was closed.
Below is a map with one of my favorite Sunday walks. It took advantage of some of the hills and hidden back roads so as to avoid crowds and get some new views of the city.I tended to start near Ponte alle Grazie and via de’ Benci (see map) because it was near my apartment, but you can begin anywhere. This particular path takes you up to the Forte di Belvedere, through to the the back entrance of the Boboli Gardens, down to the Porta Romana, and back through town to Santo Spirito, where, on Sunday mornings, there is a lovely farmers market.
The walk starts by going up Costa San Giorgio, a steep back street (with no sidewalks, so be careful of cars!), to the Forte di Belvedere, a late 16th century fortification. This building is often used in summer to screen old movies and is a popular hang out for locals interested in escaping the crowded streets below. Turning right and curving around this structure’s huge bastions, the walk leads you to a back entrance to the Boboli Gardens. Since the Boboli is so huge, you often don’t make it up to this part. The view is spectacular and the whole rest of the walk will be downhill through the winding paths and endless secret passages.If you do not have a museum card you do have to pay to enter, but as I have said before, the cost is well worth it. Meander through the gardens as you wish and take your time (though not too long, the farmers market closes at 2pm). I tended to head out toward the Porta Romana in the most direct root, but if this is your first time you’ll want to get lost. You really never know what you will find in there.
After exiting the gardens hop onto the Via Romana and head back towards to the city center. This is a wonderful street, by the way, to visit during normal operating hours as it is full of fantastic shops. Right before you reach the Massive Palazzo Pitti, turn left on(any street really, but I have noted the easiest) Via Mezzetta. This will take you into Santo Spirito, one of my favorite piazzas.
Santo Spirito is one of the best piazzas in Florence during normal days (some of my favorite restaurants, bars and aperitivo spots) but especially on Sundays when they host a weekly market. Depending on the Sunday this could be a farmers market with fresh bread, cheese and produce from local Florentines, a flea market with a range of inexpensive goods and hand made crafts, or, my favorite, an antique market full of amazing objects and rare finds. I found some wonderful old postcards here as well as scarves and jewelry.
Getting back to point A (wherever yours may be) is up to you. I like crossing back over the Ponte Vecchio with all the jewelry shops closed and very few passersby (a rare sight). But you could go further west, down the river to explore more, back to Palazzo Pitti, or head back to Ponte alle Grazie. For a total distance of 3 miles, it is just the thing to get you ready for another amazing dinner while justifying all the ones before.
View Sunday Florence Walk in a larger map