You’ve already found the sweet life in Florence… make sure to savor its beauty by experiencing these unforgettable gardens, spas and escapes.
Come For The Spa… Stay For The Cocktails
Four Seasons Hotel Firenze
Borgo Pinti, 99, 50121 | +39 055 2726 6987
We each have our signature ‘Four Seasons Firenze’ memory. The first involved a prescient husband booking a preemptive spa day in the midst of a jam-packed honeymoon. Sumptuous treatments and reclining poolside in the most immaculate Renaissance elegance is something you never forget. On the second, an intensive layer of security greeted us at the garden-cloaked manor. A high-profile dignitary was in town for diplomatic talks and his tuxedo-clad detail patrolled the premises with the determined focus you’d expect. Somehow, this only added to the unabashed cinematic romanticism of the experience, the gilded palazzo sparkling even more brightly in the full moonlight. The Four Seasons is Italianate opulence exemplified, and the size and scale of your surroundings are nothing short of impressive. Retreat to any of the lush courtyard corners for a creative cocktail (a John Legend-esque crooner will be tickling the ivories in earshot more often than not), and bask in the hotel’s flawless service.
See Florence… In Panorama
Piazzale Michelangelo, 50125
San Miniato Al Monte, Via delle Porte Sante, 34 | +39 055 234 2731
From atop the famous Duomo, gazing out from Boboli’s highest vista and from the rooftop at any number of Florentine bars, the city offers infinite opportunities for heavenly views. Perhaps none is more beloved (or worth the uphill climb) than that of Piazzale Michelangelo. Though it is a popular spot for watching sunsets, it is also wonderful with a picnic at lunchtime or an early evening aperitivo, and its proximity to the splendid Giardino dell’Iris is an added bonus. As long as you’ve made it this far though, may we suggest you continue on to one of our favorite lookouts in all the city? San Miniato al Monte looks plucked from a children’s fairytale illustration with its Romanesque structure and soaring basilica. The structure and grounds are worth a visit on their own, but the rapturous view makes Brunelleschi’s masterpiece look like the sweet little cherry on top of the city.
Walk The Hallowed Grounds
Boboli Gardens, Piazza Pitti, 1, 50125 | +39 055 229 8732
A lush labyrinth of greenery and sculpture on a scale fit for the gods, it’s said we have Boboli to thank for other botanic gifts like Versailles. Though highlights include a grand amphitheater, a fountain featuring a dwarf riding a tortoise and the grand slope of the forest-lined Viottolone walkway, you’ll want to give yourself ample time to wander the gardens’ bountiful nooks and crannies. You really can’t make a wrong turn here so dare to leave the map behind and get lost. You’re rewarded with a window on the city and unique angles of the Palazzo Pitti at many a turn.
A Better Al Fresco
Belmond Villa San Michele
Via Doccia, 4, 50014, Fiesole | +39 055 567 8200
Should you have the urge to feel a bit more ‘away from it all’ while on your tour de Renaissance, the breathtaking Villa San Michele is the girl for you. The former monastery boasts sweeping cliffside views of the city, beautifully restored environs rumored to be Michelangelo’s handiwork, and prime terrace dining in the excellent La Loggia restaurant. Snag a lunch or dinner reservation for one of the most romantic meals in Tuscany: Thursday brings the option of chef’s special family style meals and in the evenings, a bar pianist adds to the ambiance starting at 7PM.
Desinare Cooking School At Riccardo Barthel, VIA DEI SERRAGLI 234R | +39 055 221118
Research or seek out a Tuscan cooking class and you’re likely to encounter more than a few raised eyebrows. Some are described as having very little actual instruction (i.e. take your eyes off the whir of hands fashioning their family’s centuries-old pasta recipe and you’re outta luck), while others are described as all flash, no substance. But those who know of Desinare have a very different experience to report and rightfully so; it is your Italian cooking class fantasy brought to life. Not only are you encouraged to learn by doing in the Desinare kitchen, but you feel comfortable and accommodated (even if your skill level is more ‘beginner’ than ‘Batali’). We both left with prep and sauté skills we’ve since incorporated into our regular home cooks’ repertoire: what could be a surer sign of sweet cooking school success?