Declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1982, Florence is the birthplace of Renaissance art and is famous for its culture and beauty. I discovered how to make the most of the Tuscan capital through the eyes of local tour guide, Freya Middleton.
Twelve years ago Australian-born Freya travelled to Florence on a post-graduate scholarship to study art history and never left. She fell in love – with the city and an Italian – and now calls Firenze home. With her bubbly personality and a contagious passion for the city she says ‘inspires her constantly’, Freya has worked as a tour guide for more than 10 years and runs private, bespoke tours of the city through her business,Freya’s Florence. She says that ‘Florence is a treasure chest of creativity that mixes tradition with innovation, style and artistry’. With that in mind, Freya recommends making the most of this beautiful part of Tuscany by investing your time and travel budget on the special things that are only found here.
For lunch and great people watching, head to the Gucci café in front of the Gucci Museum (Piazza della Signoria 10) and the Trattoria da Rocco inside the wonderful Sant’Ambrogio food market (Piazza Ghiberti). For dinner, Frescobaldi Ristorante & Winebar (2-4R Via de Magazzin) is owned by one of the most important wine-producing Florentine families, whose fame dates back to medieval times. The fabulous menu is perfect for a ‘fancy, but not-too-fancy’ night out, complemented by Frescobaldi wines.
DRINK WITH A VIEW
Not to be missed is a sunset drink at the Sky Lounge Bar on the roof terrace in the medieval Consorti Tower of the uber-chic Hotel Continentale (Vicolo dell’Oro 6r). For a spectacular daytime view of the city below, walk from the foot of the Ponte Vecchio up to the San Miniato al Monte church and make sure you explore inside this amazing example of Florentine Romanesque architecture.
Florence is famous for its amazing craftsmen and artisans. Freya recommends splurging on a unique piece of jewellery from the ‘magical’ goldsmith Alessandro Dari (Via S.Niccolò 115/r), a personalized leather bound photo album from Alberto Cozzi (Via del Parione 35r), or for a truly rare gift, a made-to-measure perfume from Flor (Borgo Santa Croce 6).
BEND & STRETCH
With all the eating and drinking you are bound to do (it’s Italy after all), keep in shape with a workout at 19r Yoga & Pilates (19r Via dei Bardi).
© Kris McIntyre and Holiday Goddess, 2013.