The Editor’s Guide To Florence, Italy

10 min read
Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Brimming with world-class art, historical sites and plenty of pasta, Florence is just the place to live la dolce vita

Few cities are so compact in size yet so packed in culture as Florence, or, as the Italians call it, Firenze. A place to feast on world-class art and gourmet Tuscan cuisine, this small yet characterful city on the banks of the Arno river in northeastern Tuscany has a charming array of narrow cobbled streets, elegant 15th and 16th century palaces, candle-lit chapels, incredible shopping and art museums displaying works from the likes of Botticelli and Michelangelo. The best views of the city can be found in the San Niccolò district — considered to be an artists’ neighbourhood, both locals and tourists flood here at sunset to admire the most spectacular panoramic vistas. There are plenty of cute spots to enjoy a traditional Italian aperitivo, too.  While you’d be forgiven for thinking Milan is the place where Italy’s fashion industry was born and bred, it’s actually Florence that is the centre of the industry, with its city centre celebrating homegrown designers such as Guccio Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo, who both opened Haute Couture boutiques here in the 1920s. Fashion fans will definitely want to take an hour or two to explore Gucci Garden — a jewel in the crown of the Florentine fashion house, the museum has served as a shrine to its history from Guccio’s beginnings in 1921 to Tom Ford’s tenure and onwards.

As to be expected, the restaurant and nightlife scene is very much thriving, with many restaurants serving up quality produce sourced locally, seasonally and sustainably. Surrounded by grape-rich hills, it’s a gourmet paradise. Be sure to book a table at Il Parione — the restaurant’s owner Marco is an enthusiastic food connoisseur and will treat you to everything from creamy gnocchi with fresh truffles to homemade pasta with Florentine ragù. Squisito.

Where To Stay

When it comes to the swanky Hotel Savoy, it’s all about location, location, location. Sitting slap bang in the heart of the city overlooking the café-lined Piazza della Repubblica, with the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio and designer boutiques of Via Tornabuoni just a stone’s throw away, you couldn’t ask for a better setting. Interiors here are all about calm and serenity, with interiors exuding a peaceful aesthetic with tranquil tones and luxe fabrics. A first-time collaboration between Olga Polizzi, Rocco Forte’s director of design and Laudemia Pucci, daughter of the legendary designer Emilio Pucci, jazzy fabrics in typically bright colours jump out at you against cool white paintwork and a pale marble floor as soon as you enter the lobby. As for its contemporary guest rooms, they are all generous in size and boast a chic yet homely vibe with a soothing colour palette (courtesy of Farrow & Ball) of soft greys, greens and dusty duck-egg blue. If you’re feeling flush, we recommend opting for the junior deluxe suite with deep- soaking tubs, Carrara marble bathrooms and, if you’re lucky, views out over Florence’s historic streets. And while there’s no dedicated spa, guests have the option to book in for a whole host of soothing treatments in the hotel’s spa suite, which we highly recommend.

Meals can be taken at the relaxed bistro-style Irene — either inside or on the piazza-facing terrace — where the chefs opt for fresh, seasonal dishes over fancy, gimmicky food. Tuck into raw fish of the day with Sicilian pesto and lemon sorbet for starter, ravioli stuffed with ‘pappa al pomodoro’ and Tuscan Caciotta cheese for your pasta course, and organic beef fillet with asparagus and olive oil mashed potato for lunch. Trust us, you can’t go wrong. Book now

Where To Eat

There’s no denying Tuscany is renowned as a premier foodie destination, but if a truly authentic experience is up there on your list of things to do in Florence, be sure to call Guilio the Truffle Hunter. Hotel Savoy’s very own Truffle Concierge, experience the city from a completely new perspective by going behind the scenes of the world’ most secretive business, setting off into the Tuscan woods in search of truffles with the help of Guilio’s three adorable hunting dogs. Between September and January you’re most likely to find tartufo bianco – the great white – with this year particularly successful thanks to the early autumn rain. Post hunt, head back to Guilio’s home to enjoy a feast of fresh truffle hors d’oeuvres, world-class Tuscan fizz and truffle-inspired songs (Guilio is part of a band aptly called Giulio the Truffle Hunter & The Singing Bears) that make for the perfect combination. Book now

Read Next: The Editor’s Guide To Rome, Italy

  • Words by Naomi Chadderton