Florence has long had a hold on the global imagination, and for good reason. The cradle of the Renaissance drips in world-famous art, Carrara-marble-clad monuments, rich regional cuisine and medieval streets dotted with artisanal workshops. It was home to the infamous Medici family, its politics inspired the Machiavellian power dynamics described in The Prince, and it is where Filippo Brunelleschi discovered linear perspective. As the birthplace of ateliers Gucci, Roberto Cavalli and Salvatore Ferragamo, the city is celebrated for its glamour, while its dining scene buzzes with Michelin-starred eateries and street vendors serving hearty dishes such as lampredotto, thinly sliced tripe that’s boiled in broth and served as a sandwich. Although it’s small—just 40 square miles—the city will host more than 100 international conferences in 2023, which proves that it is good to mix business with pleasure.
Helvetia & Bristol
This property served British aristocrats taking the Grand Tour when it opened its doors in 1885 as the first luxury hotel in Florence. The 89-room beauty underwent a recent renovation by Anouska Hempel, who jazzed up a new wing of rooms with damask fabrics and antique furnishings. Guests can relax on the rooftop with an aperitivo.
Uffizi and Galleria dell’Accademia
The greats of the Renaissance mingle in a palace commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici housing paintings by Giotto, Caravaggio and Botticelli, including the latter’s Birth of Venus. A short walk takes you to the Galleria dell’Accademia, where the collection culminates in Michelangelo’s David.
The brainchild of chef Massimo Bottura, this enchanting eatery is set within the Gucci Garden, a pink-hued space that also houses an exhibition area and boutique. The menu features evocatively named Italian classics (Memories of a Summer in Versilia highlights cod) alongside dishes such as citrusy bonito tucked in a purple-corn tostada and savory cannoli stuffed with beef ragù and ricotta.
Housed in a labyrinthine building, this cooking school offers classes such as Old Traditional Recipes (handmade ricotta-and-spinach ravioli is one of the hearty dishes on the menu). Alongside repurposed pieces at the on-site furniture restoration workshop, visitors can browse a vast collection of cookware and vintage china stashed across the shabby-chic space.
Como Shambhala Retreat
A scenic drive through the Tuscan hills leads to this elegant spa, located within Como Castello Del Nero, a 12th-century-castle-turned-luxury-hotel that sits within a 740-acre estate. The muted gray-and-white space overlooks vineyard-dotted hills and manicured gardens where yoga and Pilates classes are held. Enjoy Asian-inspired holistic treatments such as the Como Shambhala signature massage, which uses blended oils to rebalance both body and mind.