Most people come to Florence for the classic tourist sites and the culinary offerings; who doesn’t dream of visiting Italy without enjoying its fine food? Yet, sometimes when we travel we crave some down time, especially when journeying across multiple countries and continents. Some days you just desire a morning at the spa, or a manicure, or to find your Namaste moment in the middle of a busy city.

In recent years Florence has seen a number of new yoga studios opening offering a variety of practice styles in a number of intriguing locations, the most recent being Yoga Garage in San Lorenzo. Run by couple, Tess Obermeier and Guido Baligioni, their passion for yoga is ever present during every class. Warm and effervescent, their energy comes across in their teaching. Having met in Florence through mutual friends, they later found themselves teaching classes at the same studios in the city and discovered they had a common view on a method for teaching and philosophy. So when, by chance, they stumbled upon the availability of an incredible historic space just minutes from the Duomo, they opened Yoga Garage in 2016.

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Ahhh, the space. Biblioteca di San Giovannino dei Padri Scolopi is part of a 14th century deconsecrated church with a 8-m high arched ceiling covered in crumbling frescoes and run of antique books adorning a side wall. Oversized windows look onto piazza San Lorenzo from where you can hear the church bells across the square ring at intervals... it’s one way to come out of your shavasana. Or as Guido puts it, “You practically breathe in the Renaissance during your yoga practice.” 

Tess has been practicing yoga since she was 15, taking her first Vinyasa class in her hometown of Chicago. Since, she has studied under numerous teachers and styles including Bikram, Ashtanga, Hatha, and Yin. Moving to Florence in summer 2012 as a student, like many before her she soon found the city had captured her heart. Then she met Guido, a born and raised Florentine who has always been attracted to the “oriental way” of seeing the world, practicing yoga for the past 16 years exploring Iyengar and Ashtanga plus martial arts at the same time.

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They tell me part of the reason they work so well together is because of their differing characters and cultures so they balance each other out. As for the name, Yoga Garage, “We thought that it is simple, catchy, and it is the same in English and Italian!” Classes are based on solid Ashtanga foundations (the sun salutations) with Vinyasa sequences, changing a little every class, so they are ideal for those wanting a little challenge whilst retaining a holistic tone to their practice.

With four classes per weekday (2 per day on weekends) taught in English and Italian they accessible to everyone, both local city dweller, and traveller. Plus with monthly Yogaaperitivo (evening class followed by food and wine), summer retreats in Chianti, and certified teacher-training courses, these two are very busy yogis.

If you are looking for a little quite moment during your stay in Florence, Yoga Garage could just be what you are searching for. Escape the madness and find your Zen moment right in the heart of the city.

* The duo have recently teamed up with Airbnb to offer "Yoga Renaissance" experiences. Find all the details here.  

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Picture credit: Francesco Sammicheli/Rene Choi