A Week In Florence

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A Week In Florence

View from the Uffizi Museum – Florence, Italy

by Dana Romita for easthampton.com

Florence. The birthplace of the Renaissance; a cultural capital of the world, yet at the same time an inviting, quaint Italian town.

The countless movies that have been made, short stories and novels with Florence and Tuscany as the setting never overstate its beauty. There is no need for hyperbole, enhancement, or dramatic flair. Florence remains a catalyst for passion. Passion for creativity, innovation, magnificence; and just passion for passion’s sake.

There is no direct flight into Florence, so take an evening flight.

It will be roughly six hours to a connecting destination so skip the meals and sleep!

Providing the flights coordinate well, you should arrive at your hotel in time for lunch and be finished right as your room is ready.

After deciding between the Savoy and the Four Seasons, we chose to stay at the Savoy for its location; it is in the center of town and a five-minute walk to the Duomo.

Though not quite as opulent as the Four Seasons, the service at the Savoy is seamless, professional and incredibly responsive. The concierge is well-connected and effective. The rooms are lovely and well-appointed, the gym is adequately suited while the bar is small but charming.

Four Seasons may be the epitome of luxury in town, but the Savoy is a perfect alternative for the value.

During the warmest months, Villa La Massa and the Villa Cora are also ideal hotels. Located just a few minutes outside of town, each offers a private car service back and forth. The lovely pools and al fresco dining options are a welcome respite from the city heat.

Our first lunch after arrival was at the new Osteria Gucci at the Gucci Museum in the Piazza della Signoria, where three Michelin-Star chef Massimo Bottura presents his lunch menu. The setting was pure perfection if you’re looking for dining al fresco. Afterward, be sure to take a look at the exclusive Gucci merchandise.

That evening, after a little downtime to refresh, we were fortunate enough to have secured a reservation at Enoteca Pincchiori – the only 3-Michelin-star restaurant in Florence, and each star is well-deserved. Enoteca Pinchiorri – Una Festa Per I Sensi – translation: a feast for the senses, and, yes, it is. It is worth the trip to Florence specifically to dine here. And if you’re a wine aficionado, Giorgio’s Pincchiori’s homage to culinary excellence boasts a 120,000 bottle wine cellar.

The absolute must-see cultural institutions in Florence are the Uffizi, L’Accademia, Bargello, Museo del Duomo, the Baptistry, Santa Croce, Palazzo Pitti,and a walk through the Palazzo Vecchio into the Piazza della Signoria.

The Museo Del Duomo is where you can see both sets of original baptistry doors and the original models Brunelleschi made before constructing his dome. Many of the original statuary from the Duomo façade is on display in this outstanding new museum, along with Michelangelo’s Pieta that he was constructing for his own tomb. While the line to enter the Duomo is always challenging, so the best way to see the inside of Brunelleschi’s revolutionary dome is to go to mass there.

Additionally, there is also the Galileo Museum which is fascinating for science buffs, and not to mention they do have Galileo’s finger there…

Private tour guides ensure the most complete, efficient and valuable way to appreciate the immense cultural Florentine offerings, which can otherwise be overwhelming and entail long waits. I always use I.D.I. (Italian Dream Incorporated) Travel to arrange the guides and drivers, and even to suggest specific excursions. They are the consummate professionals and their main goal is to make sure that you get the experience you most desire anywhere in Italy.

L’Uffizi and the Bargello art museums are a good combination in one day. The Uffizi is miraculous with its Botticelli’s, DaVinci’s, and Michelangelo’s. One can experience pure evolution from Gothic to High Renaissance art. The story continues at the Bargello which is smaller, yet houses the most astonishing collection of ivory carvings dating from as early as the 7th century. Once you have worked up an appetite and thirst for Tuscan wines, enjoy lunch at Mangiafoco afterward.

Afternoons seem to be best spent shopping and wandering around town, embracing the charm of the ancient streets and absorbing the local warmth and charisma. Gelateria Perche no! will satisfy a sweet-tooth, but mid-morning a visit to Pasticceria Forno for the Coccoli will give you a boost of energy to continue the touring.

We enjoyed another dinner at a jewel box of a restaurant which also happens to be on the Michelin list of stars, Ora D’Aria. This was a Michelin themed culinary excursion after all, however, Michelin dining is by no means necessary to experience Tuscany’s magical cuisine.

The following day we made a trip to a winery and to peruse some of the exquisite medieval villages that are just outside the city. Castello della Paneretta is a winery dear to my heart; the wine, beauty, history and culinary offerings are only improved upon by the people who treasure and showcase this enchanted place. Amongst the villages, my personal favorites are San Gimignano and Volterra.

In the evening, we dined at the Michelin starred farm-to-table La Bottega del Buon Caffe, which was truly unique. Be sure to buy a bottle of their olive oil on your way out!

Our final day was spent at The Mall and Prada outlet in Reggello, 45 minutes outside of Florence. Be sure to check the prices; some of the best deals we found were at Dolce and Gabbana, and Bottega Venetta. On the way back from the outlets, grab lunch at Torre del Castellano – a truly local spot with magnificent views of the Tuscan countryside and spectacular cooked-to-order food. I recommend the Bistecca ala Fiorentina and the Torta della Nonna for dessert.

This splendid tour of Florence and its environs concluded with dinner at Il Locale. Il Locale does not have any Michelin-stars but it shines as brightly at those that do. It was unquestionably an evening of Florentine dining at its best.

We headed back home with suitcases full of mementos and hearts full of wonderful memories.

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