While Florence has one foot rooted in Renaissance splendour, the other strides out into a future filled with some of the world’s finest food, music and fashion. Words can’t do justice to this ethereal riverside city; like a well-cut diamond, she gleams from many angles. Villa San Michele, A Belmond Hotel, Florence, is in prime position to explore the wonders of the city below.
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It’s fitting that Stendhal syndrome, which causes sufferers to grow faint at an overwhelming concentration of beauty, is more commonly known as Florence syndrome. Here you can see the world’s most iconic sights: the Santa Croce, Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio and Brunelleschi’s Dome. Small surprise that UNESCO declared the city a World Heritage Site in 1982.
The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Florence oozes historic, artistic and cultural allure. It was the stomping ground of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Dante and Galileo. Pieces by Raphael and Titian line the galleries. It’s also a cosmopolitan metropolis with a cultural scene that embraces opera, classical music and contemporary art. Even stalwarts such as the Uffizi—famously the home of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus—now has a Modern Art Gallery.
This wooded valley not only offers a peaceful respite for city life—it’s also brimming with history. Trekking through Monte Ceceri park, you’ll reach the top of the very same hill where Leonardo da Vinci tested his flying machine in 1506. As you gaze across the hills, you’ll spot Il Duomo in the distance: a truly awe-inspiring view.
Florence is bursting with pioneering craftspeople. Amble around the city’s narrow streets and bustling piazzas on a balmy summer evening. Peer into artisans’ workshops in the Oltrarno quarter. Here, local creations, flavours and wares are king.
In the fashion stakes, Florence rivals Milan as Italy’s capital of vogue. Mingle with the fashionistas as they cut a bella figura along Via Tornabuoni. You’ll find flagship boutiques of Gucci and Cavalli—both designers having been born in the city.
Florence’s food and wine is of such high repute too, that the ‘Fiorentina’ label has become synonymous with quality. Dine in salt-of-the-earth trattorias or acclaimed osterias such as the three-Michelin starred Enoteca Pinchiorri. Cool off with a some of Italy’s finest gelato—we recommend Vivoli near the Santa Croce—before discovering fine wines at Il Santino.
Pescaia di San Niccolò, a weir on the River Arno that runs through Florence, is perfect for a spot of rafting. Our experts are on hand to guide you under the famed Ponte Vecchio as you admire the urban sights. Or, for the ultimate thrill, join a full-day excursion to the Sieve River for a heart-racing ride through the rapids.
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