Pools in Florence: A Foreigner’s Guide
It’s summer, maybe your first in Florence, and the heat is a little too real — in fact, this year has been one of the hottest on record all across Europe. You want to cool off and relax, maybe make the sun work for you and get a nice tan. Where do you go?
Don’t worry, dear reader: Magenta has you covered. This series reviewing four of Florence’s public pools — Costoli, Panoviere, Bellariva & Poggetto — will give you everything you need to know to turn an uncomfortably sweaty day in your apartment into an enjoyable, refreshing afternoon in the water.
- Piscina = Pool
- Cuffia = Swimming Cap
- Spogliatoio = Locker Room
- Lettini = Sunbeds
Piazza Enrico Berlinguer, 2. Mon: 2-6 pm; Tues, Wed, Fri, Sun: 10 am to 6 pm; Thurs, Sat: 10 am to 8 pm. Adult Tickets: 8€ (9€ on holidays). Reduced Tickets: 5.50€ (6€ on holidays). Afternoon Tickets (from 3 pm onwards): 5€. 10-Entrance Passes: 60€. Sunbed Rental: 3€.
Not to be confused with the Piscina Costolina, an indoor facility that you enter from the opposite end of the property, Piscina Costoli is a large public pool complex with its entrance off of Viale Pasquale Paoli, right next to the Mandela Forum. You’ll be asked for photo-ID at the door, so be sure to bring your identity card or passport with you or you’ll be turned away at the door. You are also required to wear a swimming cap while in the pools, but you can buy one at the front desk for €2.20 if you can’t bring your own.
After purchasing your ticket, you head to your respective locker room on either side of the ticket counter — men’s on the left, women’s on the right. Changing rooms are individual stalls, and lockers are electronic, available to rent for 50 cents. Simply type in the number of the locker, insert the coin, and decide on a six-digit code that will act as your locker key. You’ll be able to come back and take something out at any time, since closing the locker door will re-engage the electronic seal at no extra cost.
You’ll pass gendered bathrooms and showers on the way out of the locker room, and if you follow the path through the building, you’ll eventually emerge onto the bright pool deck. Swimmers can choose between three options: a shallow kids pool on the far left; a large, olympic-style pool in the center; and a series of diving boards on the far right. All three are outdoors and fairly uncovered, meaning they will be bathed in sunlight for most of the day. Sunscreen is a must for anyone wanting to take a dip.
The main pool is about 2.5m (8ft) deep for its entire length, rather than having shallow and deep ends, and the water is perfectly cool. People both float around and swim laps (though, in classically chaotic Italian fashion, they do so both lengthwise and widthwise), so feel free to enjoy the water at your own pace.
Surrounding the pool-area on three sides is a large green space, shaded by several tall trees, that is a perfect place to set up camp. Several groups and families will have laid down towels and blankets, whether to relax in the shade or tan in the sun, and several plastic chairs are scattered around for those that prefer not to lie on the ground.
There are two snack shacks, both to the right of where you walked out to reach the pools, and food, drinks and ice cream can be purchased there for reasonable prices. Be sure to bring cash with you, as only one of the two places can accommodate cards, and even then only contactless payment. There also seems to be no rule against bringing outside food with you — as long as it stays off the pool deck, where no food or drink of any kind is allowed — so why not plan a picnic lunch? (alex harrison)
Viale della Catena, 2. Mon-Fri: 10 am – 6:30 pm. Sat, Sun, holidays: 9:30 am – 7 pm. Depending on the time and hour, prices vary between 6 and 10 €. The onsite restaurant takes reservations.
Le Pavoniere, hidden among the trees of the Cascine Park, epitomizes the concept of a multifaceted venue. Pool? Sunbeds? Bar? Restaurant? Special events? Roller skates, private lessons, bicycles, and brunch? Look no further — it’s all here.
The property, needless to say, is absolutely stunning. The pool is large, surrounded by sunbeds, trees, and tables with umbrellas. Especially unique is the presence of two greco/roman-looking cupolas, originally intended to be extremely decorative and grandiose peacock flight cages. In the sixties, the area was transformed into the piscina it is today, which the aviaries now flank quite nicely.
Despite this atmosphere, a day at Le Pavoniere may not be as tranquil as anticipated. Getting into the establishment in the first place can prove to be complicated. The prices depend on many variables (day, time, services) and can be as tricky to decipher as a physics formula. Patrons must also wear swim caps and flip-flops, and bring official forms of ID. Once on the pool deck, it may become evident that the heat has attracted hoards of families with children to camp out poolside. To put it succinctly, Le Pavoniere is not for those in need of silence and personal space.
If these hoops seem to be worth jumping through, though, a great time can be had. The spot is very accessible, especially with the 17 bus. Reservations for the restaurant can be made on the website. (emma hempstead)
Piscina di Bellariva
Lungarno Aldo Moro, 6. Mon-Fri: 10 am to 6 pm; Sat, Sun: 9:30 am to 7 pm. Adult Tickets: 7€ (8€ on Sat & holidays). Reduced Tickets: 5€ (6€ on Sat & holidays). Afternoon Tickets (from 3 pm onwards): 4.50€ (5€ on Sat & holidays). 10-Entrance Passes: 60€. Sunbed Rental: 3€.
This pool complex is off of a highway, SS67, which has a sidewalk along it for pedestrians to reach the entrance. No ID required here, and you enter directly into the large green space that divides the two pools — one exclusively for small children on the right, and an indoor olympic-style pool on the left. Between them is a building with a bar and terrace restaurant, as well as the changing rooms (under renovation at the time this reviewer visited the facility and now reopened). The indoor pool is designed to host professional swimming competitions, so more changing rooms are available there beneath the bleachers.
Showering is mandatory before swimming, so get comfortable cleaning off in the open, team-style shower rooms before donning your swimsuit. Lockers require a personal lock, if you intend to leave valuables behind, so bringing one from home is recommended. The pools themselves are nice, but can get crowded, particularly due to the swimming lessons and camps that are held all summer long. Overall, Piscina di Bellariva is a good option for families fairly familiar with Italian, but might be a challenge for solo travelers. (alex harrison)
Via Michele Mercati, 24. Mon-Sun: 10 am to 7 pm. Adult Tickets: 8€ (9€ on Sat, Sun & holidays). Reduced Tickets: 6€ for Students & Seniors; 5€ for ages 3-16 (7€ on Sat, Sun & holidays). Afternoon Tickets (from 3 pm onwards): 6€ (7€ on Sat & holidays). Reduced Afternoon Tickets: 5€ (6€ on Sat, Sun & holidays). 10-Entrance Passes: 65€ (75€ for Sat, Sun & holidays). Reduced 10-Entrance Passes: 50€ (60€ on Sat, Sun & holidays). Sunbed Rental: 3€.
More than just a pool, Poggetto-FLOG is a little bit of everything. Run by a group founded in 1945 to help revitalize Florence, Poggetto has sports facilities, a theater space, and an outdoor cinema as well as its own Pizzeria. It’s also the most straightforward of these pools to find, since its right along the #20 bus route and its street address actually is its entrance. Go figure.
As you walk into the complex, keep left as you pass the pizzeria (open for dinner nightly, and lunch on weekends as well) to make your way to the ticket booth. As you probably noticed above, this place has many price options, including a rare discount for students. Photo ID is not required here, but if you ask for the student discount, they might want a student ID to back up that claim.
Poggetto is smaller than the other places on this list, with only a single, all-purpose pool with the classic shallow- and deep ends. That makes everything easy to find, though, and the changing rooms are directly attached to the pool deck: women’s on the right, men’s on the left. Using the locker room showers is optional, since there’s an outdoor place to rinse off before you enter the pool itself, but there don’t seem to be lockers, so make sure you’re comfortable bringing your things with you.
The atmosphere on the pool deck is more relaxed than most of the other pools. The smaller size means smaller crowds, and upbeat music plays over loudspeakers at a comfortable volume. The deck has both sunny and shaded spots, and while rentable pool chairs surround the pool on all sides, it’s also acceptable to just lay your towel down on the ground. The water is nice and cool, and because it’s the only one, everyone really does their own thing. Families tend to play in the shallow end while people swim half-laps in deeper waters, but you won’t get dirty looks for lazily floating around in the middle.
Next to the pool is a cafe that serves drinks, sandwiches and ice cream and has ping pong- and foosball tables for open use. The open-air cinema is also right in view, encouraging swimmers to return for the 9:30 pm nightly screenings of films from the last two years (Tickets are 6€, 5€ discounted). It doesn’t seem like any of the showings are in the original language, but it might be worth it for the experience regardless. If you plan it right, you could make Poggetto a whole day affair: After swimming and tanning, reserve a spot at the pizzeria for dinner, and afterwards take one of the 300 seats for an outdoor movie. No pressure, though. Poggetto is worth checking out however long you spend there. (alex harrison)