Florence (Firenze), the birthplace of the Renaissance, is a charming, enticing, and completely appealing location where visitors can savour top-notch artwork and fine Tuscan cuisine.
Few cities are as small or as full of amazing works of architecture and art everywhere you turn. The urban structure of this small city, located on the banks of the Arno river in northeastern Tuscany, hasn’t changed much since the Renaissance. Its winding cobblestone streets are a cinematic feast of elegant palazzi (palaces) from the 15th and 16th centuries, mediaeval chapels lit by candlelight, churches with frescoes, marble basilicas, and top-notch art museums bursting with works by Botticcelli, Michelangelo, and others. The entire city centre is a Unesco World Heritage Site, which is not surprising.
The fashion industry in Italy was developed entirely locally. Since the 1920s, when local designers Guccio Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo founded haute-couture stores in Florence, shopping in the Tuscan capital has been fashionable. In a gorgeous maze of ancient backstreets, A-lister fashion companies lace Via de’ Tornabuoni and a Pandora’s box of specialty boutiques selling all kinds of lovely goods parade alongside family-run botteghe (workshops). Watch fourth-generation Florentine shoemakers and goldsmiths at work, purchase artisanal fragrances evoking Tuscan sea wind and Florentine countryside, and be assured that the label “Fiorentina” is one of the finest worldwide labels available.
Florentines take great pleasure in their culinary heritage and believe that the holy trinity of produce should be sourced locally, seasonally, and responsibly. Their city, which is surrounded by wine-producing hills, is a gourmet haven where it is required to eat and drink exquisitely. Dining in Florence is ageless and memorable, whether it’s a blue T-bone steak served in a market trattoria unchanged since 1915, a tripe panino at a family-run food truck, or a typical bowl of earthy ribollita (bean, bread, and vegetable soup). Modern touches include raw food, fish bistros, handmade drinks, and the brilliant ingenuity of current young Tuscan cooks.
Every time you stand on a bridge over the Arno during the day, the light and atmosphere are different. Hike to Piazzale Michelangelo at dusk to be mesmerised by a palette encompassing all recognised tones of gentle pink, orange, and blazing amber. Florence, while being surprisingly small, tops the list of “must-see” destinations worldwide, and not just because of its unrivalled treasure trove of art. The Florentine way of life is enviably lovely; it is rich in culture, framed by history, and supported by family, faith, and cuisine. Take it easy on a leisurely afternoon passeggiata, indulge in an aperitivo at dusk, and savour the good life…