Florence is enchanting. More than the great art and culture, it’s that palpable sense that Renaissance Italy is somehow still alive in its cobblestone streets and majestic squares. But there’s also a fresh and fun vibe that’s challenging Florence’s image as a living museum: from buzzy wine bars and creative cocktail lounges to cool concept stores and galleries. Marchay Director of Editorial Content, Sophia, reports from her most recent visit.
I stayed at the Hotel Savoy, a Rocco Forte property, located on Piazza della Repubblica, which is typically a very busy and central point. Perfect for those who like “buzzy” and to simply step out and walk everywhere. My suite, overlooking the Piazza, was well appointed and the perfect size for two people. The hotel restaurant, Irene, is excellent, serving contemporary Italian cuisine. I particularly loved having breakfast there every morning, on the restaurant terrace, sipping a cappuccino while planning out my day. Sidenote: this hotel has just reopened its doors after a six month interior renovation.
On a previous visit to Florence, I stayed at Portrait Firenze (owned by the Ferragamo Group). It is also centrally located – adjacent to the iconic Ponte Vecchio bridge and a short walk across the river to the Boboli Gardens. On that particular visit I had my two children with me. The spacious all-suite layout plus the convenient location make it an ideal spot for families.
I associate Italy with eating stellar meals. However, you can’t expect that to be a sure thing in restaurants in Florence — because anywhere the tourists outnumber the locals, the odds are stacked against you. Therefore, I find it really important to plan where to dine.
For lunch we ate (twice!) at Quattro Leoni – a cozy and rustic trattoria with outdoor seating, tucked away in a tiny, interestingly shaped square just footsteps from the Pitti Palace. The hand made pastas and lasagna are fantastic and best paired with the arugula and pear salad. Save room for dessert: the ricotta cheesecake drowned in warm blackberries is Devine.
Carduccio is a light lunch spot serving organic food from a predominantly vegan menu: cold-pressed juices, smoothies, salads and soups. Everything is super fresh and tasty (I loved the zucchini noodles). It was an amazing alternative to our non stop carb lunches and dinners. I am not a vegan per se, but the food here is amazing. I left feeling light and energized to continue the day.
We had a fantastic dinner at Osteria della Tre Panche. The menu showcases prized local San Miniato truffles. A hole-in-the-wall with a relaxed and convivial atmosphere, it is a 10-min taxi ride from the center of the city. I recommend the veal medallions, white raviolis and the signature “foie gras of Chianti” house-made chicken liver pate.
Dinner at the Michelin-starred La Bottega del Buon Caffe was nothing short of mesmerizing. Here, Florentine native head chef, Antonello Sardi, crafts exquisite nouvelle-Tuscan cuisine. The vegetables and herbs arrive from the restaurant’s own farm, Borgo Santo Pietro, in the Tuscan hills. Breads and focaccia (the nut loaf is heavenly) are homemade. Their signature dishes of foie-gras crème brûlée with red-onion ice cream and rack of venison (its sauce enriched with chocolate) are truly delicious. This was one of my favorite meals of all times! I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who enjoys farm to table fine dining.
The Fondazione Franco Zeffirelli is a fabulous space (library, music hall, tea room, museum, archive) located in the San Firenze complex aka the ex-Tribunale in Piazza San Firenze, a former monastery turned Baroque wonder. The museum houses over 250 works by Franco Zeffirelli including sketches and pictures. The exhibition is chronologically subdivided in prose theater, opera and cinema.
Gucci Garden is home to an exhibition space showcasing items from the brand’s archives, a boutique selling one-of-a-kind pieces, and a restaurant called Gucci Osteria. The restaurant is run by Chef Massimo Bottura of the three-Michelin-starred restaurant Osteria Francescana.
Exclusively during the summer months, Florence’s renowned opera company and orchestra, Opera Di Firenze, performs outdoor productions set in the beautiful courtyard of the Pitti Palace. We were lucky to get front row seats to The Barber of Seville and the entire experience was awesome.
Luisa Via Roma, best known for its infamously eye-popping window displays, is a lively three story building and mostly dedicated to Italian fashion. Here you can find many of the big Italian brand names but also some very cool “up-and-comers”.
Playground – this boutique has a distinct “downtown vibe”, selling runway pieces and jeans alike.
Florence is home to the Negroni and an exciting place for cocktail enthusiasts. I really enjoyed pre dinner drinks at The Bitter Bar. The decor and speakeasy environment create a retro vibe of the 1920s. The menu is divided into twists on classics, like an aged Negroni, and veteran bartender, Cristian Guitti’s, own inventions.
The poolside bar at Villa Cora is a great spot for an aperitivo (the cocktail menu being distinctive Italian), especially during the summer months when the “Champagne and Pizza” nights are paired with DJ sets.
Hotel Savoy | Piazza della Repubblica 7, Firenze | +39 055 27351
Portrait Firenze | Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli 4, Firenze | +39 055 2726 8000
Quattro Leoni | Via de’ Vellutini, 1r, Firenze | +39 055 218562
Carduccio | Sdrucciolo de’ Pitti, 10/R, Firenze | +39 055 238 2070
Osteria della Tre Panche | Via Antonio Pacinotti, 32/R, Firenze | +39 055 583724
La Bottega del Buon Caffe | Lungarno Benvenuto Cellini, 69/R, Firenze | +39 055 553 5677
Fondazione Franco Zeffirelli | Piazza di S. Firenze, 5, Firenze | +39 055 281038
Gucci Garden | Piazza della Signoria, 10, Firenze | +39 055 7592 7010
Opera Di Firenze | Piazza Vittorio Gui, 1 Firenze | +39 055 277 9309
Luisa Via Roma | Via Roma, 19/21/r, Firenze | +39 055 906 4116
Marie Antoinette | Chiasso dei del Bene 5/6 Firenze | +39 055 280906
Playground | Viale Don Giovanni Minzoni, 31, Firenze | +39 055 075 0645
The Bitter Bar | Via di Mezzo, 28r, Firenze | +39 340 549 9258
Villa Cora | Viale Machiavelli, 18, Firenze | +39 055 228790