During the Easter holidays, dodge the queues on your spring holiday in Florence at the busier Accademia and Uffizi galleries and discover some of the city’s lesser-known museums. Treasures from Egyptian expeditions are on view for free at the Museo Archeologico in the 17th century Palazzo della Crocetta on Via della Colonna. Marvel at Galileo’s original telescope at the Arno riverfront Museo di Storia della Scienza in Palazzo Castellani. Treasures like Michelangelo’s statues from Florence’s centrepiece, the Duomo, are easier to see in the comparatively uncrowded Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo behind the cathedral.
Artisans’ stalls fill the exhibition centre behind Fortezza da Basso’s battlement walls for Mostra Internazionale dell' Artigianato. Find one-off ceramic pieces and handmade dress jewellery at this arts and crafts show during April’s last week. Off-season market shopping on a laidback San Lorenzo street market can mean discounts on leather prices, which can go up in summer. Time your spring holiday in Florence with the Antique Fiorentino fair in Piazza Santo Spirito on the second Sunday of every month where over 100 dealers gather. Or pick up honey and herbs when the Tuscan countryside comes to Florence for the Fierucola farmers’ market on the third Sunday of the month.
Roman centurions parade for the re- enactment of The Passion of Christ in Grassina village on Good Friday, just 10 minutes from Florence’s centre. Festive crowds converge on Easter Sunday in central Piazza del Duomo for the pagan Explosion of the Cart, or Scoppio del Carro spectacle. A dove-shaped rocket of flames from a holy fire ignites firecrackers around an ornate cart after Easter Mass. The Duomo’s bells peal at 11a.m. to kick- start the ancient ritual.
Mediterranean music and Mozart comes to Florence during the run-up to Easter for World Sacred Music Week. Choral symphonies and requiem masses ring around the Renaissance altars at riverside Chiesa di Santo Stefano al Ponte. April sees the start of two months of melody for the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino music festival. Lavish symphony performances entertain music lovers in the golden galleries at the Teatro Comunale municipal theatre. More intimate audiences gather for opera at the cosy, neighbouring Teatro Piccolo.
Spring blossoms abound in Fiorenza, the ‘flowering city’. Leave your spring hotel in Florence to follow manicured hedges and promenades around the palatial Boboli Gardens where camellias bloom. The same ticket gains entry to the Bardini Gardens, dotted with restored Renaissance statues and soaked in the scents of early flowering wisteria. The Botanical Gardens on Via Micheli are free to enter for a wander among urns, fountains and ancient oaks. A spring holiday in Florence is a great time to see the city from a new perspective on an old boat or barchetti on the meandering River Arno. Follow the arches of the 1km Vasari Corridor, a covered walkway joining the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palazzo Pitti, and drift under the medieval arches of the Ponte Vecchio bridge.