Cradle of the Renaissance, romantic, enchanting and utterly irresistible.
In the first place, few cities are so compact size or so packed with extraordinary art and architecture at every turn. The urban fabric of this small city has hardly changed since the Renaissance. Moreover, its narrow cobbled streets are a feast of elegant palazzi, medieval chapels, fresco-decorated churches, basilicas and art museums. The latter are brimming with paintings and sculptures by Botticcelli and Michelangelo, for example. Unsurprisingly, the entire city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Not to mention, Italy’s fashion industry was born and bred here. Guccio Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo opened haute-couture boutiques in Florence in the 1920s. Fashion houses lace Via de’ Tornabuoni and a Pandora’s box of specialist boutiques parade alongside family-run botteghe (workshops) in glorious medieval backstreets. Watch fourth-generation Florentine goldsmiths and shoemakers at work, buy artisan scents and know the tag ‘Fiorentina’ is one of the finest international labels going.
Coupled with the above, quality produce is sourced locally, seasonally and sustainably. For this reason, Florentines share an enormous pride in their culinary tradition. Their city, surrounded by wine-rich hills, is a gourmet paradise where eating and drinking well is mandatory. Dining in Florence is timeless and memorable: enjoy a traditional bowl of earthy ribollita (bean, bread and veg soup), a tripe panino or a blue T-bone steak.
Stand on a bridge over the Arno several times in a day and the light and mood changes every time. At sunset go to Piazzale Michelangelo to enjoy every known shade of soft pink, orange and 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, Florentine lifestyle is enviably sweet. Finally, enjoy a go-slow afternoon passeggiata, indulge in an aperitivo at dusk, savour la dolce vita…