An Insider’s Guide to Alternative Museums in Florence


Most people go straight to the Uffizi, but if you’re looking for off-the-beaten-path museums and galleries, take note of these hidden pearls that will leave you breathless.



By Claudia Musolino. Cover Image by Bo Bernard.

Visiting Florence might seem easy as the museums, churches, and palaces are so well-known, giving the impression that everything is there. Most people head straight to the Uffizi, but there are hidden gems scattered throughout the city that not everyone is aware of. Florence alternative art spots are everywhere, you just have to find them out. The city is like a precious treasure chest fullfilled with dozens of galleries, museums and other little-known pearls of significant artistic value. Here are some not-to-be-missed hidden spots to make the most of your visit. 

Why Museo Bardini is a Florence alternative art destination

The Museo Bardini is home to a diverse and impressive collection of over 3600 artworks housed in a space that pays homage to the Renaissance and the art of restoration. As you move up the museum’s floors, you’ll be immersed in progressively deeper shades of blue and have the opportunity to admire masterpieces by Tino di Camaino, Donatello, Antonio del Pollaiolo, and Guercino, along with thirty drawings by Giambattista Tiepolo. 

Fun fact: The Museo Bardini houses the original bronze Fountain of the Piglet, which was created by Pietro Tacca in 1612.

Museo del Bargello is one of our fave Florence alternative art destination

Devoted to sculpture, it is part of the Bargello Museum alongside the Cappella dei Medici, Orsanmichele church, Palazzo Davanzati and Casa Martelli. Its collection of Renaissance statues is considered among the world’s most remarkable, featuring works by Michelangelo, Donatello, Ghiberti, Cellini, Giambologna, and Ammannati. Over time, the museum has been enriched with superb ceramics, tapestries, ivories and textiles. A gem that takes your breath away.

Museo di San Marco, another de’ Medici’s special alternative art destination

The Museo di San Marco in Florence is an architectural masterpiece commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici and designed by Michelozzo. It was declared a museum of national importance in 1869. The true gems of the Museo di San Marco are the works of Fra Angelico, including outstanding Renaissance masterpieces such as the frescoes on the second floor, where the monks’ cells were located. Additionally, the museum includes numerous historically and artistically invaluable works by Ghirlandaio.

Visit Jewish Museum hidden in the Synagogue

The immense Synagogue in the city’s “Mattonaia” neighbourhood was built in 1882. It is a monumental building with great charm and harmonious shapes, blending seamlessly into the Florentine panorama with its green dome. The Jewish Museum is located inside the Synagogue, spanning across two floors of the monumental building that houses the Temple. It features furnishings, silverware, fabrics and photographic documentation, but also a moving “Room of Memory” dedicated to the Shoah.

In search for Museo di Galileo housed in one of the oldest Florence building

The Museum of the History of Science has been located in Palazzo Castellani, one of Florence’s oldest buildings, since 1930. The museum’s oldest objects come from the collections originally owned by the Medici and Lorraine families. The collection includes mathematical, optical, astronomical, surgical, and navigational instruments. Perhaps the most notable items on display are the telescope that Galileo used to discover the lunar mountains and Jupiter’s satellites in 1609 and the first mercury barometer, which was invented in 1634. 

When you’ll be in Florence, don’t miss the Casamonti Collection too, housed in the Renaissance setting of Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni. Unlike any other traditional museum, this beautiful private palace is home to one of the city’s most interesting private collections.
And here’s a final tip for you: when it comes to discovering Florence, try to avoid maps and clocks. The best way to experience the city is to wander without a specific aim, choosing a new direction with every step and allowing yourself to be intrigued. Be sure that every corner you turn will hold a surprise.

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