The heat in Florence, Italy can get pretty bad in the summer. This year so far we’ve had it good – personally I prefer not having to shower ever 2 hours. But when the heat does hit, it’s important to know how to best face it. From practices for coping with the heat to knowing the best places to cool off, these are a few of my lessons learned.

1) Shutter it up

Most windows are equipped with either shutters or the more modern roll-down variety. Italians keep these closed pretty much all the time, so you might think there’s nobody at home. They’re closed at night so you can’t see inside, and they’re closed during the day to keep out the sun and stop rooms from heating up. Keep your home cool by opening everything up from 6 to 8am, then shuttering it up til about 9pm!

2) Stay inside

Even if your inside has no air conditioning, nothing is worse than going outside in a concrete jungle when temps peak at 40 degrees celcius. As much as possible, stay inside between 10am and 7pm.

3) Aperitivo

7pm is not a casually chosen hour. It’s when we usually call it a day at work and head over to some rooftop terrace for an aperitivo! Most of the hotels in town have rooftop bars that are open to the public

4) Culture by night

While many of the city’s movie houses actually close for the summer (guess they don’t have air conditioning, plus a lot of Italians leave the city, lucky ducks), there are some open air movie theatres that pop up in June and July, and some of them are free! In piazza Ssma Annunziata from July 7-31 there is free arthouse cinema every night! At the Fortezza da Basso there’s a free big screen at Off Bar (programme here). Mandela Forum and Flog offer paid open-air cinemas with regular programming.

In addition, some museums have late hours – including the just announced Tuesday and Friday night openings of the Uffizi, Accademia, Bargello and Medici Chapels.

5) If you can’t beat it, join it

Easy Living beach on the arno | Photo Aneta Garčicová and Lenka Rusňáková for The Florentine
Easy Living beach on the arno | Photo Aneta Garčicová and Lenka Rusňáková for The Florentine

I spend so much time avoiding the heat that sometimes I forget that it’s okay to just absorb it sometimes, as long as you can properly hydrate and then have a cold shower afterwards. If you grew up, like I did, in a very green city, Florence will seem very not-green, and the few spaces there are may be far from the private refuge you seek. But in their own way they can be interesting. There’s the rose garden under piazzale Michelangelo or the large Cascine park, with the recently created recreational space called Fosso Bandito (that I have yet to explore). There’s also a city beach called Easy Living, a kinda strange sandy shore on the Arno, with beach volleyball, bar, and cold showers.

6) Get outta town

The lawn at Vallombrosa
The lawn at Vallombrosa

If you can’t afford a longer holiday but can get access to a car for a day, or if you enjoy public busses, a summer classic is to go to Vallombrosa, a high altitude woods that is surprisingly cold. Like, bring-a-sweater cold! Get there early to claim one of the highly desirable public BBQs, or just cast a blanket under a tree and rough it with a luxury picnic.

If you want to drive a little further, there are mountain options where it’s cooler – Abetone, above Pistoia, is a popular destination – or you can head to the beach along the Tuscan coast.

For more summer tips

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