The people and the signoria of Florence: the San Lorenzo neighborhood

San Lorenzo is the Florentine neighborhood where local culture meets Medici history.

Strolling through the streets of the San Lorenzo neighborhood is like finding yourself in perfect balance on a tight rope: on one side you face the grandeur of the monuments built by the Medici, and on the other, the simplicity of local street stands and historic shops.

A hop away from the center (a few short seconds from Piazza del Duomo), nestled between the busy Santa Maria Novella station, the elegant via Cavour, via de’ Cerretani and the bustling via Nazionale, San Lorenzo is one of those places where you could spend your entire day, strolling through its narrow streets, shopping at the local market, tasting typical food and marveling at the artistic masterpieces around you. 

The popular side of the neighborhood

San Lorenzo is filled to the brim with life: for most of the day, market stalls surround the impressive Mercato Centrale, where swarms of people peruse, bargain, and purchase goods from morning to night. Not to mention the Mercato Centrale itself, where you can indulge in your every desire; your taste buds will be especially satisfied with the selection of typical Florentine food productsFrom there, the streets of the neighborhood unwind in every direction, housing restaurants, bakeries and shops of every kind: authentic Florence with an eclectic twist.

The signori’s legacy

The other side of the neighborhood is ruled by the Medici family legacyIn a short range of distance, you’ll find a cluster of some the most breathtaking works left behind by the MediciIn the Medici Riccardi Palace, for centuries the hub of the family’s power, you can view the spectacular noble rooms, including the jaw-dropping Chapel of the Magi (entrance on Via Cavour). The San Lorenzo Basilica, Florence’s main cathedral for three centuries, is the only church with an unfinished facade, making it one of the most evocative churches in Florence. The Laurentian Library, a building designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti, houses one of world’s most important manuscript collectionsLast but not least, visit the Medici Chapels, an extraordinary mausoleum containing monumental tombs of the family, including that of Lorenzo the Magnificent.

When to go

The buildings and monuments can be visited during their opening times, but to enjoy the neighborhood, make your way over in the early morning when the chaos of the day has yet to explode. Or try in the early evening around dinnertime when the bustle of the day has calmed in the streets, and Giovanni delle Bande Nere, the marble guardian of piazza San Lorenzo (the only real military leader of the Medici family), reigns over what for centuries was his family’s main neighbourhood. 

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