Ground zero for any trip to Tuscany, this historic city (Firenze to locals) is a wonderful confluence of age-old craftsmanship and new-school style.
WHERE TO SHOP…
Giulio Giannini & Figlio
This world-renowned shop has been producing exquisite leather goods, marbleized papers, and stationery the same way since 1856, using techniques passed down through six generations of the Giannini family.
“You can’t leave Florence without some great little gifts for your friends and family from Giulio Giannini.” —Thom Filicia
A team of expert painters and designers still craft Studio Puck’s frames and prints the Florentine tradition, by hand. This is the place to go if you’re looking to score something truly special for your walls.
Spanning an entire block, this creative mecca sells a huge variety of items ranging from antiques to hardware. However, shopping isn’t the only thing to be had. You can also tap its in-house team of designers and architects to renovate and decorate your home.
Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella
It doesn’t get better than these lotions, soaps, and perfumes, originally formulated by Dominican monks in the 16th century. The setting, an ornate chapel with soaring ceilings, is as mesmerizing as the products.
This is the silversmith antiques dealers turn to for reconstructions of broken silver pieces or to have reproductions made—he’s that good. Using traditional casting methods, Paolo produces cutlery, trays, and much more for in-the-know customers worldwide, including local fans the Ferragamo family.
WHERE TO EAT…
iO Osteria Personale
Located in a former deli with brick walls and wood-paneled ceilings, this new restaurant’s decor evokes old Florence and so do their seasonal, regional ingredients. Go for sophisticated versions of traditional dishes.
Make like a local and head to this panino spot for a sandwich you’ll never forget. Combinations like Tuscan salami, herbed sheep cheese, and tangy mustard, between two slices of crunchy bread, make this a regular stop for Florentine foodies.
Fusion Bar & Restaurant
Located in the Ferragamo-designed Gallery Hotel Art, this bar and restaurant serves small bites that stay true to its name, like foie gras nigiri sushi, finished with a bit of chutney.
“If you’re looking for a great mixed cocktail and a hip crowd, the Fusion Bar is the place to go!” —Thom Filicia
WHERE TO STAY…
Gallery Hotel Art
Ferragamo sparked the “designer” hotel craze in Florence when it opened this high-style property in 1999. Tucked amid the winding streets by the Ponte Vecchio, it features rotating art installations in the common areas.
“Like its bar, Gallery Hotel Art attracts a seriously hip crowd.” —Thom Filicia
This boutique hotel nestled into a townhouse boasts interiors that are traditional with a modern edge: Think clean lines, neutrals palettes, eclectic art, and a few antiques sprinkled throughout. Its Sunday brunch is a lovely reason to trade weekend jeans for a cute dress.
The St. Regis, Florence
The newest addition to Florence’s lineup of luxury hotels (it opened in October 2011), this hotel commissioned local artisans to create an authentically Tuscan version of opulence.
DON’T MISS DAY TRIPS…
No trip to Tuscany would be complete without a stop in at one of these charming destinations, all just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of Florence.
If you happen to be in Tuscany on the first weekend of the month, make a beeline for Arrezzo’s Piazza Grande to experience the Fiera Antiquaria, reputed to be the best antiques market in all of Tuscany. If you don’t happen to hit the area at the right time, don’t fret. The city has around a hundred antique shops that are open daily.
It’s hard to miss the soaring towers of this medieval hill town, much of which has remained structurally unchanged since the Middle Ages. That’s not to say there aren’t contemporary shopping attractions, like the atelier of local photographer Duccio Nacci, whose stunningly dramatic work would make a great souvenir of your trip.
“A cute little gallery with fabulous photographs on the Piazza del Duomo of stunning San Gimigiano. A must-see!” —Thom Filicia
Forte Dei Marmi
Known as the Palm Beach of Tuscany for its manicured sandy beaches, this seaside resort town is a great place to spend a lazy day (or two if you’re lucky). Rent bikes at the charming, awning-clad Cicli Maggi and tool around the area. If it’s Wednesday, be sure to swing by the center of town to sample the weekly market, which specializes in designer clothing at great prices.