48 Hours in Florence
48 Hours in Florence
...with TERRAEVENTS Italy, a DMC Network Company
Florence - surprisingly compact, with hidden treasures around just about every corner, it’s pedestrian perfection & whilst known as the cradle of the Renaissance, the city has marched forward into the 21st century with a fervent flourish of revamped museums and gourmet game-changers capturing everything that is memorable about Italian food and a lot more besides.
First Timer: shrug off the jet lag and head for Piazzale Michelangelo, perched on a hilltop it’s the best point for a bird’s-eye view of the city – belltowers, domes, church spires and the rolling hills of Fiesole. Taking pride of place in the main square is a replica of Michelangelo’s magnificent masterpiece “David” - 4.5 meters of white carrara marble, the almost menacing glare fixated in the direction of Rome, in defence of the once Republic of Florence.
Like a Local: Kick-start the day with a morning run through the Cascine Park, a 6km loop in the largest green area of the city, tree-lined for shade and a great place to people and dog watch as you hit your pace. A special note – Florence is a city of fashion so if you really want to blend in with the locals be sure to bring your best running clothes...
First Timer & Like a Local: Early morning exertions deserve just rewards so join with the Florentines for their morning coffee ritual & we guarantee you’ll never feel the same about Starbucks!. In Florence everyone has their favorite barista who matches faces to a preference – so whatever suits, from a simple caffe (an espresso, short and strong) to a macchiato (strong with a little frothy milk), an americano, disdained by the locals but good if you like your coffee long and diluted, and in the summer a shakerato, two shots of espresso sweetened with sugar and shaken with ice to form a rich froth. And remember, Italians NEVER drink cappuccino after 11am!
Like a Local: Stick to the ground floor for the Storico Mercato Centrale Firenze & socialize with the locals as they make their daily shop of the best in local produce – meat, fish, fruit & vegetables, pasta, and the Florentine favorite “trippa” , heaven or hell depending on your take on eating the lining of a ruminant (cow).
First Timer: Whilst in the area, pop your nose into the nearby garage in Via Nazionale, 21, to see the retro wall frescoes of Italian classic cars, before heading to Via de’ Ginori 8R, to visit La Ménagère – a concept store with a magnificent florist, shabby chic home-ware and a restaurant serving Mediterranean delights.
Like a Local: If you’re in the mood for shopping and consider yourself a fashionista, there’s nowhere better than Luisaviaroma.com | Firenze su Luisaviaroma– the actual bricks & mortar shop has been in the same location (Via Roma 3) since1929 & now boasts an online fashion site with no less than 5 million visitors per month from all over the world. It’s an interaction of bold fashion, resplendently cool interior design & a roof top terrace to sit back, relax with the beautiful people & enjoy a hi-energy lunch.
Forgo dessert to enjoy the best gelato you’ll ever taste –Vivoli, in Via Dell’Isola delle Stinche, where they’ve been making ice-cream since 1929.
First Timer: Florence can represent a cultural overload so whilst most tourists will make a bee-line to the Academy to gaze at the masculine magnificence of Michelangelo’s David or studiously work their way through the Medici’s priceless collection of art in the Uffizi gallery, a recommendation would be to make your way to the latest re-visitation of one of the cities most important offerings – Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, which includes the Cathedral Museum– a truly spectacular contemporary design hosting the largest concentration of Florentine monumental sculpture in the world, within a totally unique setting. The museum’s main hall evokes the city’s square, representing the “Paradise” of Florence, with a reconstruction of the 16th century façade of the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore. Don’t miss visiting the Sala Maddalena, to see Donatello’s incredible statue of Mary Magdelene. Entirely sculpted in wood,this 15th century sculpture seems almost contemporary in its style and the haggard penitence stance of its subject never fails to take me aback.
Like a Local: Having satiated your cultural curiosities, a further sensorial delight awaits at Aquaflor, a Florentine maison de parfum. An ambience which is sheer nectar to all the senses; beautifully crafted crystal glass ampoules filled with magical essences; soft scented soaps and fragrant candles you will wish would burn for ever! Aquaflor, Borgo Santa Croce 6.
For the ladies no visit to Florence would be complete without stopping by Angela Caputi for statement jewellery at its best. Adorn yourself with these magnificent hand made baubles and no-one will doubt your Florentine style! Two shops – the flagship store and laboratory where these one-of-a-kind creations are made in Via Santo Spirito, and a smaller shop in Borgo Santissimi Apostoli.
First Timer: After such an industrious day make your way to SeSto and treat yourself to a Negroni – the cocktail created in Florence, an intense mix of bitter Campari, red vermouth and gin. Sit back and enjoy one of the most spectacular views of this incredible city and the surrounding gently rolling hills, dotted with patrician villas and terraced gardens.
Make your way down to ground level, take a right out of Piazza Ognissanti and then a left to arrive at the small and lively Trattoria dei 13 Gobbi, serving typical Florentine fare – be sure to start with their signature dish of home made pasta with a rich tomato sauce.
Like a Local: Cross the river to the Oltrarno and the quarter of San Frediano, the city’s more bohemian neighborhood for dinner which is filled with an eclectic collection of restaurants, striking a balance between traditional and modern, casual and formal. One of the best (and frequented by the local Fiorentina football team) is Neromo, (Borgo San Frediano, Rosso 23/25) – great pizzas and other dishes too.
Whilst Florence is famed for its astounding art and history, the surrounding Tuscan countryside is just as renowned for being home to vineyards producing some of the best wine in the world. So whilst one single day is just like dipping a toe in the beauties which await, it’s a good way to make a start.
First Timer: If you love wine and you love architecture a visit to a truly unique winery Antinori nel Chianti Classico which have now become the family’s HQ and where they produce the Peppoli Chianti Classico, and the Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva. From the road the cellars are ‘invisible’, constructed in total harmony with the landscape and based, conceptually on profound and rooted ties to the earth, with a minimal impact on the environment and maximum savings in energy. After indulging in a little wine-tasting (sorry passenger only, Italy’s drink & driving laws are strict, so if you want to indulge think about taking a car and driver for the day) retire to the winery’s signature restaurant, Rinuccio 1180, with its breathtaking views across the rolling Tuscan.
Like a Local: Immerse yourself in the myth – a convertible Fiat 500, the radio on and take to the winding Tuscan roads. First stop just south of the city the small town of Impruneta, the home of Tuscan terracotta making a visit to Mital,. & no worries… they will ship if you can’t resist purchasing a beautiful sculpted Tuscan vase to sit in your garden.
First Timer: Heading half-an-hour further south on the Firenze-Siena highway, to the ancient walled city of Siena. Set over three hills, topped by churches and towers, at its heart is Il Campo, the beautiful piazza where the Palio, the magnificent bareback horse-race held annually on 2nd July and 16th August, featured in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace. Siena is famous for its contrade, the 17 neighborhoods which compete in the Palio – their existence is still very much part of Sienese life so be sure to look out for the flags and plaques denoting the neighborhoods.
Another other must-see is San Gimignano – a 13th century medieval town which is now a World Heritage site and offers the equivalent of the New York skyline view with no less than 72 towers reaching up to 50 mt. in height. And don’t forget to stop off at Gelateria Dondoli, a former winner of the world’s best ice-cream.
First Timer: No experience of Tuscany would be complete without enjoying a Fiorentina – the Florentine beefsteak. It comes on the bone and be warned, the Florentines eat it rare….as in practically walking off the plate. Top of the list, La Reggia degli Etruschi, in Fiesole, the northern hills of the city. Brace yourself for a steep climb on foot to the Reggia degli Etruschi, perched on the very top of the hill. The food is quite simply sublime, wine-list would satisfy even the most demanding of wine-conoisseurs and the service is just rather “specially” Florentine.
Like a Local: On the Via Francigena, the pilgrims road, close to the hillside town of Monteriggioni, Futura Osteria di Abbadia Isola, a philosophy of zero-km using only freshly grown produce, with a contempary and creative twist to traditional menus.
FLORENCE ESSENTIAL TOP 10
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