The best places to live in Florence
Even though Florence is a relatively small city, the various areas and suburbs in Florence cater to all types of people. There are options for students and young professionals who crave the hustle and bustle of the inner city, and for families who prefer the peace and quiet of the outskirts. Each area has a different feel, and expats should be sure to spend some time exploring the different options when looking for accommodation before making a firm decision on where to live.
Trendy and cultural hotspots in Florence
San Marco is to the north of the Centro Storico and is a primarily residential area that extends to Piazza Indipendenza and Piazza Libertà. The area gets congested with tourists but has a good selection of shops and restaurants, and the university botanical gardens provide some reprieve. Public transport in the area is good, but San Marco isn’t well suited to private vehicles.
The residents of this trendy area are a mix of expats, students and artists. Its lively piazza is lined with restaurants, and it houses several museums and public gardens. Its narrow streets are lined with shops, but they aren’t easy to navigate by car, so most residents walk, cycle or use buses.
Santa Croce hosts the Sant’Ambrogio Market – one of the best places to buy local produce in the city. It’s centrally located, but tourists passing through are there mainly to visit the Santa Croce church, and the rest of the area is residential.
There are plenty of restaurants and bars in the area, and because it isn’t too touristy, Santa Croce has an authentic Italian feel to it. Still, there are always people out and about, which makes the area feel safe even at night, and there is a vibey nightlife atmosphere. Expats who prefer quieter areas may not opt for Santa Croce.
Rifredi, in the northwestern part of Florence, is a dynamic and growing suburb. This area is known for its medical and research facilities, including the Careggi Hospital, and attracts many healthcare professionals and researchers. Rifredi has a diverse community and offers affordable housing options, making it a popular choice for young professionals and families alike. The suburb is well-served by public transport, and its blend of modern and traditional Italian architecture adds to its unique charm.
Campo di Marte
Campo di Marte, located to the east of the city centre, is a quieter suburb ideal for families and sports enthusiasts. Known for its large sports stadium, the area offers a blend of urban convenience and quiet residential life. The lush green spaces and proximity to local amenities make it a sought-after location for those who prefer a balance of city life and tranquillity. While the area is well-connected by public transport, its spacious streets also accommodate private vehicles, making it a practical choice for those with cars.
Family-friendly and peaceful suburbs in Florence
The San Niccolò area offers a unique small-town feel. It doesn’t attract many tourists, except those passing through to get to the Piazzale Michelangiolo, but expats wanting to live in this peaceful area should be warned that rent prices are known to be high.
Novoli is a city quarter that offers an alternative to the busy, touristy city centre, but is still well-connected with public transport links. This neighbourhood lies in the north-western part of Florence and is a perfect, quiet and cosy spot for families.
Perfect for expats who want to drive themselves around, Via Bolognese snakes northwards out of the city. It doesn’t attract all the tourist foot traffic like the city centre, but its leafy atmosphere has its own attractions, like the gardens of Parnassus. The biggest downside is that residents have longer commutes than their counterparts in the city centre.
Fiesole, nestled in the hills just north of Florence, offers a picturesque escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. This ancient town, with its Etruscan and Roman roots, is perfect for history buffs and those seeking a quieter lifestyle. Its elevated position provides stunning views of Florence and the surrounding Tuscan landscape.
The area is well-known for its cultural events, fine dining, and artisan shops. Fiesole is less connected by public transport compared to other suburbs, making it more suited for those with private vehicles or who enjoy leisurely walks in nature.
What are the worst areas for expats to live in Florence?
While Florence boasts many appealing neighbourhoods, certain areas might not be ideal for expats due to various reasons. These areas, while having their own unique aspects, may present challenges that are worth considering before deciding to settle there.
One such area is the Peretola region, located near Florence Airport. The constant noise from air traffic can be a significant disturbance, especially for those seeking a quiet living environment. The area is also predominantly industrial, lacking the charming aesthetic and cultural richness found in other parts of Florence.
Another area expats might want to avoid is the Isolotto district in the western part of Florence. Although it offers more affordable living options, it's known for its dense, post-war apartment blocks that lack the historical charm of the city. The area is also relatively far from the city centre, making it less convenient for those who frequently engage in the cultural and social life of Florence.
The Galluzzo district, in the southern part of Florence, should be considered carefully. Known for its large prison facility, Galluzzo can be less appealing for residential purposes. Although it has some beautiful areas, including the Certosa monastery, the presence of the prison and the associated infrastructure might deter some expats from choosing this as their home base in Florence.
What areas in Florence are best for expats?
"We lived near Piazza Beccaria. Everything we needed was nearby, but it was off the tourist path so much quieter and had a more local feel." If you're debating over which area or suburb in Florence to move to, check out Hope's expat interview to read her experience.
►For more on living in the city, see Accommodation in Florence
►Read Lifestyle in Florence for an overview of what it's like to live in La Bella
Photo credits: Giotto's Campanile in Florence by Louis Charron. Ponte alle Grazie in Florence by Jeon Hyungman. All sourced from Unsplash.
Are you an expat living in Florence?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Florence. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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