Cradle of the Renaissance, romantic, enchanting and utterly irresistible, Florence (Firenze) is a place to feast on world-class art and gourmet Tuscan cuisine.
Art & Architecture
Few cities are so compact in size or so packed with extraordinary art and architecture masterpieces at every turn. The urban fabric of this small city, on the banks of the Arno river in northeastern Tuscany, has hardly changed since the Renaissance and its narrow cobbled streets are a cinematic feast of elegant 15th- and 16th-century palazzi (palaces), medieval candle-lit chapels, fresco-decorated churches, marble basilicas and world-class art museums brimming with paintings and sculptures by Botticcelli, Michelangelo et al. Unsurprisingly, the entire city centre is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Italy's fashion industry was born and bred here. Homegrown designers Guccio Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo opened haute-couture boutiques in Florence in the 1920s and shopping in the Tuscan capital has been stylish ever since. A-lister fashion houses lace Via de' Tornabuoni and a Pandora's box of specialist boutiques selling all manner of beautiful objects parade alongside family-run botteghe (workshops) in a glorious tangle of medieval backstreets. Watch fourth-generation Florentine goldsmiths and shoemakers at work, buy artisan scents evocative of the Florentine countryside and Tuscan sea breeze, and know the tag 'Fiorentina' is one of the finest international labels going.
Food & Wine
Quality produce sourced locally, seasonally and sustainably is the holy trinity and Florentines share an enormous pride in their culinary tradition. Their city, surrounded by wine-rich hills, is a gourmet paradise where eating and drinking exceedingly well is mandatory. Be it a traditional bowl of earthy ribollita (bean, bread and veg soup), a tripe panino at a family-run food truck or a blue T-bone steak served in a market trattoria unchanged since 1915, dining in Florence is timeless and memorable. Raw cuisine, fish bistros, craft cocktails and the dazzling creativity of modern young Tuscan chefs add contemporary edge.
La Dolce Vita
Stand on a bridge over the Arno several times in a day and the light and mood changes every time. At sunset hike to Piazzale Michelangelo to be dazzled by a palette embracing every known shade of soft pink, orange and fiery amber. Surprisingly small as it is, Florence looms large on the world's 'must-sees' list – and not just for its unmatched treasure chest of art. Rich in culture, backdropped by history and anchored by family, faith and food, the Florentine lifestyle is enviably sweet. Enjoy a go-slow afternoon passeggiata, indulge in an aperitivo at dusk, savour la dolce vita…
Why I love Florence
By Nicola Williams, Writer
Florence is made for walking, which suits me perfectly, but what never ceases to amaze me is its overwhelming beauty. It's impossible not to be completely and utterly seduced by the sheer size and grandeur of Brunelleschi's red cathedral dome on Piazza del Duomo; by the sensual beauty of a stash of lesser-known Michelangelo sculptures that no one really talks about (forget David – Dawn and Dusk sends shivers down my spine); by the hopelessly romantic city light that turns the Arno and its bridges into a portfolio of Turner canvases during my early-morning runs. Swoon.