I had dreamt of visiting Florence, the city of the Medici family – masters of arts, intrigue, luxury, cosmetics and poisons – who have had a major influence in this part of Europe. Florence is also the city of explorers such as Amerigo Vespucci who gave his name to the newly found continent (weirdly enough, I could not find traces of him when I visited). Firenze is a city of so many fascinating stories, which played a major role in Italian History, and you can really feel it when you walk its streets or follow the Corridor di Vasari.
Let’s start by where to stay: Hotel Lorena, a small family-run hotel, easily accessible by tramway (from the airport) and located in the city center, a few steps away from the incredibly beautiful Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. The facade of the cathedral has been recently cleaned so you can admire the three colours of the moisaics and statues, in green, white & pink marble, which is very specific to Florence. Go at night for a more confidential experience.
Where to eat: have your morning cappuccino e cornetto at Antica Pasticceria Sieni, in front of the market. Have a drink at sunset, at Rooftop Bar La Terrazza, overlooking the Arno river. Discover the amazing dishes of Trattoria l’raddi, a very authentic restaurant located in a small street, in a less touristy area. If you wish to stay in the center, Trattoria Zà Zà is also an famous option among Italians.
Where to shop: You cannot miss the original location of Farmacia di Santa Maria di Novella (while you’re going this way, have a look at the Basilica di Santa Maria Di Novella). The building itself is worth visiting and I can personally spend hours trying all the different floral waters, fragrances and ancient remedies. This brand is now sold worldwide so you don’t need to buy everything on the spot! You can also visit AquaFlor which is a little less accessible in terms of prices. If you love stationeries like me, try Il Papiro, where you will find beautiful enveloppes, notebooks and more.
Finally, walk to the Piazzale Michelangelo for an outstanding viewpoint on the whole city, explore the small jewellery shops on Ponte Vecchio (from where you can also watch the sunset) and if you have time, lose yourself in the Uffizi museum. There you will find original works from Botticelli, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Titian, Leonardo Da Vinci and hundreds of portraits from the families who made the History of Florence over the centuries.