Florence is without a doubt, one of the most charming destinations in Europe. It’s hard not to be blown away by the overwhelming abundance of rich culture, history and beauty at every turn. As the birthplace of the Renaissance, it is home to many of the world’s masterpieces in art and architecture. It is also where the fashion industry within Italy was truly born, a fact that is very evident even today as you walk through the backstreets of the city which are filled with ateliers, specialist craftsmen and family-run workshops. This place holds special significance to us as it’s where fellow founder, Roshni, got married. We have the best memories of Florence and with the countless trips we’ve made here, it almost feels like a second home. Each place listed below is a true favourite of ours.
We hope you enjoy it,
K, R, D x
WHERE TO GO:
No Florence guide would be complete without a mention of a few of the most well-known cultural sites. First on our to-do list is to head to the Ponte Vecchio, the most famous (and for sure the most instagrammed) bridge in Florence and one of the city’s most renowned landmarks. The bridge resides over the Arno River, and is regularly filled with tourists, musicians and entertainers, making for one very vibrant atmosphere. Next on our list is the Uffizi Gallery, the most famous museum in Florence, with the largest collections of Renaissance paintings globally, including works by Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Botticelli.
The Boboli Gardens are also one not to miss. Created by the Medici family in the sixteenth century behind the Palazzo Pitti (Pitti Palace), the beautiful gardens are home to many statues and fountains and from the top of the terraces you have a breathtaking view over Florence and its surroundings. The Pitti Palace is definitely worth a visit – it was once the residence of Florence’s rulers until 1919 when it was handed over to the state and later converted into a museum. With some of the most beautiful ceilings in Florence and the most glorious palatial structures. Last but not least, no list is complete without the Duomo di Firenze, the Cathedral of Florence, one of the largest in the world and built between 1296 and 1436. Its dome dominates the skyline of the city, and perhaps one of the most beautiful views of the entire landscape is at the Piazzale Michelangelo. For those visiting Florence, we would thoroughly recommend adequate research into the illustrious galleries, architectural structures and sites – this guide mentions only a few cultural highlights.
Via della Scala, 16 - 50123 Firenze
This is the oldest operating pharmacy in the world, and is a real treat for the eyes. Housed in its original building, the rooms are complete with vaulted ceilings, ornate gilding, frescoes, glass-stained windows and antique statues. The pharmacy was established in 1221 by Dominican monks, who began growing herbs to make salves and medicines for their infirmary. The high caliber of their products was widely known throughout Italy, and in the seventeenth century, they opened doors to the public. Still today, the pharmacy uses the traditional preparation methods and still carries products using the original recipes of the monks. A particular favourite are the rose scented wax room fragrances, which we buy on every trip to hang in our closets and keep our wardrobes smelling like a garden of roses.
Via Roma, 19/21/r | +39 055 906 4116
LVR is a must for all shoppers in Florence. Known as Italy’s more renowned multi-designer boutique, the store offers a great curation of products, combining many classic luxury designers like Giambatista Valli and Roberto Cavalli, with cool and quirky emerging designers. Their product mix is interesting and eclectic, and you often find many pieces you can’t find elsewhere.
Via de' Tornabuoni, 17/r, 50100 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 260 8410
This store opened its doors in 2016, and stands out immediately, positioned amongst designers such as Dior and Balenciaga. SOTF has been described as Florence’s futuristic sneaker store. For any sneaker aficionado this is an absolute heaven, offering your typical sneaker brands like Adidas and Y-3, as well as high-end options such as Thom Browne and Buscemi.
This long and elegant street in the centre of Florence is home to quite a few chic coffee spots, restaurants, hotels and high fashion boutiques. Not only this, but Via de Tornabuoni once housed the Casoni Cafè, where, in 1920, the Negroni cocktail was invented by Camillo Negroni. As the street is pedestrianised, this is quite literally a shoppers’ paradise. This street is where old meets new, with the world’s most famous designers artfully showcased interspersed with historic churches and modern offices.
Via della Vigna Nuova is where you will find local luxury Italian designer stores. In particular, this street is the best place for men to get suits made with the incomparable Italian craftsmanship that you just won’t find anywhere else in the world. Whilst not an attraction in the traditional sense, the concentration of Italian brand names and high-quality boutiques makes this an area to target for those interested in a luxury shopping experience when in Florence.
WHERE TO EAT:
Via Antonio Pacinotti, 32/R, 50131 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 583724
This restaurant is definitely one of our favourite Italian restaurants in Italy. Literally translated as ‘three benches’, expect to make friends with the people sitting next to you as this restaurant really is quite tiny. Every dish is delicious and most come with a generous sprinkle of truffles, which is why we love it so much. Away from the city centre this place is cosy, intimate and delicious. Our top tip: make a reservation in advance as this place is super popular and super small.
Via Del Porcellana, 9R, 50123 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 284015
When we came across this charming and informal little spot in an alley a little off a beaten path we didn’t quite know what to expect. When visiting anywhere in Italy, it can be difficult to find a Trattoria which appeals to both locals and tourists alike, however this trattoria offers an authentic Italian experience you won’t get at a restaurant located just a walk away from the Duomo. Our favourite dish was the tagliatelli with porcini mushrooms and the rigatoni.
Via Del Porcellana, 25/R, 50123 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 212691
It’s nothing fancy; in fact it’s incredibly simple, as most food places on this guide have been so far. But the food is delicious, and that’s all we care about. This is another spot which is so unassuming, you will probably walk right by it, with a menu which is handwritten on a daily basis and presented to you in an A4 plastic wallet. We warned you, it’s not fancy, but it’s where the real Florentines go. Although the menu changes very frequently, the one constant is the butter chicken, which we can’t recommend enough. Pro tip: make a booking but don’t take your reservation time too seriously; you’ll be seated when your table is ready.
Piazza de Cimatori, 4r, 50122 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 214125
This centrally located Tuscan restaurant is the best treat after a long day of roaming around the city. It’s authentic Tuscan food with excellent and attentive staff and a bustling atmosphere both inside and outside. We loved the funghi pappardelle with truffle and the truffle ravioli.
Borgo Pinti, 10-18 R, 50121 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 241341
La Giostra is a romantic hideaway within easy walking distance of the historical center of Florence. This restaurant is slightly more formal than the others and is a favourite amongst couples, so we would recommend it for a date night dinner. It's well known for its super quirky founder (a former Prince, although he looks more like a gypsy) who is decked head to toe in hundreds of metal chains and rings which apparently he never takes off, even when travelling through airports. The Founder is there every evening, so be sure to say hello, you will definitely notice him. Top tip: book in advance and order the taglierini con tartufo bianco and the lobster spaghetti.
Piazza Nazario Sauro, 25/r, 50124 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 280695
The best gelato in the world. Yes, you read correctly, the world. It’s the same gelato in the picture of this travel guide and is also the gelato of your dreams. Located just off the Ponte Vecchio, it is the perfect place to grab an ice cream and take the ultimate snap overlooking the picturesque Arno River. Our favourite flavors are the hazelnut and the pistachio in a cone (ALWAYS a cone) of your choice. The only downside: this place sets the bar really high for gelato and makes you realise that nowhere else in the world will you find gelato as good as this.
Via Guglielmo Marconi, 26, 50131 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 583040
This is a favourite for many of the locals in Florence, serving up the finest sweet treats you find in all of Firenze. As well of sweet pastries, you will find many savoury tarts. Most are in miniature form allowing you to try many, and the coffee is equally as impressive. For anyone with a sweet tooth, this is hands down worth trying. It's not in a tourist area close to main attractions in the city, but it's worth the de-tour. Note this is a quick, casual, take-away style eatery with no chairs and only a few standing tables.
WHERE TO STAY:
Piazza Ognissanti, 3, 50123 Firenze, Italy
Owned and managed by the same team behind the St. Regis, the Westin sits exactly opposite the St. Regis on the other side of the Piazza Ognissanti, alongside the Arno River and a short stroll away from the prime designer shopping street of Via Tornabuoni and Florence’s major sights. Following a full refurbishment in 2015, the hotel has been given a fresh, more contemporary look without compromising its character and charm. The interior reflects Tuscan, Empire, and Florentine influences with marble floors, stained glass, tapestries, and frescoes. The real gem of this hotel is the glass-encased rooftop restaurant, which offers one of the best views in the whole of Florence of the city lights and skyline. It also offers selection of more than 300 wines, a definite added bonus to the hotel.
Piazza Ognissanti, 1, 50123 Firenze, Italy
This fifteenth-century former palace on the Piazza Ognissanti, overlooking the Arno River, is the perfect stylishly contemporary-meets-classic-Florentine hotel. The St. Regis is located in Florence's beautiful historic center, which means top attractions like the Ponte Vecchio and Uffizi Gallery are a five-minute stroll away, as are new and fascinating cultural hot spots like the Gucci Museum and Palazzo Strozzi. All 100 rooms are plays on Florence's classic renaissance and Medici styles and the hotel even features a Bottega Veneta suite, designed by Bottega Veneta Creative Director, Tomas Maier, which has a more subdued modern tone to its clean furnishings, fixtures and fabrics. Expect the utmost service, the most breathtaking hotel bar and a supremely charming ambiance.
Borgo Pinti, 99, 50121 Firenze, Italy
The Four Seasons needs no introduction. Synonymous worldwide with luxury and opulence, their Florentine base does not disappoint. Set across two buildings – a 14th century palazzo and a 16th century conventino – and connected by one of Florence’s largest and most beautiful private gardens, the Four Seasons Firenze is a stunning escape just minutes from the city’s main attractions. With an on-site spa, and open-air swimming pool, accommodating staff and spacious rooms, you’ll find it hard to tear yourself away.
Località Palazzetto, 110, 53012 Palazzetto SI, Italy
Set deep in the Tuscan country-side, you will find heaven on earth aka Borgo Santo Pietro, a thirteenth century villa that has been converted into a boutique hotel. It will take you roughly 2.5 hours to get there from Pisa or Florence airport by car, 3 hours from Rome if there's no traffic. But the drive is indescribably beautiful for the vast part and the end destination makes it utterly worth it. Set on 13 acres of land comprising solely of 16 rooms, this hotel is nothing short of paradise. It is designed to be the ultimate sanctuary, with acres of gardens and amenities including a basketball court, tennis court, archery field, playground, cooking school, farm, fishing pond, indoor/outdoor spa, and the list is endless. With only 16 rooms with several designed as private cottages, you hardly see many people, making the whole grounds feel like your own personal private area. The hotel's infinity rock pool looks out over acres of green fields, and the hotel features several rustic restaurants including the Tree House restaurant, which is built around a huge tree that dates back thousands of years. Every Thursday evening, the hotel put on a private cinema screening under the Tuscan stars for all guests, where you have the luxury of watching a classic Italian movie (with subtitles of course), outdoors underneath glittering fairy lights, with a menu of gourmet burgers, fries and gelato. It doesn't get more indulgent than this. If you're looking for the perfect Italian getaway, with unparalleled beauty, privacy and service, this place is for you. Tip: book in advance, as it tends to be fully booked during peak summer times, almost 6 months in advance.
WHERE TO PLAY:
Piazza Ognissanti, 3, 50123 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 27151
The glass-plated sixth-floor SE·STO on Arno is like a ‘transparent jewellery box’. Up here you will find the most breath-taking views stretching as far as the horizon on Florence, its roofs, churches, bell towers, Ponte Vecchio and the picturesque Tuscan hills as a precious frame. This setting paired with the extended cocktail list, which both international classics as well as signature cocktails, makes for the perfect evening which can be equally enjoyed in both summer and winter. Tip: try and get there for sunset.
Via della Spada, 10r, 50123 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 277 6328
Owned by fashion designer Roberto Cavalli, this was once the bar where the Negroni cocktail was invented in 1920. With a gleaming marble bar and a secluded glass door to access the Cavalli store directly, a visit to Caffè Giacosa is quite the experience.
Via Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci, 22R, 50123 Firenze, Italy | +39 055 239 6700
Beautiful, timeless and illuminated by wonderful Murano glasswork candles, Harry’s creates a real sense of romance and seclusion. There are many amazing features here, such as its beautiful outdoor terrace that allows guests to overlook the Arno River with the Ponte Vecchio in the background. Our go to every time is the bellini, always perfect.