We asked Chef Concierge Paul Lydka at Four Seasons Hotel Firenze to gather the savviest sight-seeing suggestions he could find—not just his own, but also those of other local connoisseurs, including some he works with every day at the Hotel. Florence, known for the many artistic treasures from the Italian Renaissance, continues to thrive as a vibrant centre for the arts, music, fashion, winemaking and traditional crafts.
Get Style With Fashion Designers—and a Museum
It may not rival Milan in terms of resident design houses, but Florence lives and breathes fashion nonetheless. And Via de’ Tornabuoni is a virtual alphabet of high-end Italian designers, from Armani, Bulgari and Cavalli all the way down to Ermenegildo Zegna. You’ll also find Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, a shoe collector’s heaven, with more than 10,000 pairs in its archives. Or visit Galleria del Costume in the Palazzina della Meridiana, accessible via the Boboli Gardens.
The recently inaugurated Gucci Museum, celebrating its 90th anniversary, is a must for fashion lovers. Original models from throughout the years are on view—from clothing to shoes, bags to crockery and cutlery, saddles and even a Gucci Cadillac. Another attraction is the fact that the museum has some unique articles made just for it, which cannot be bought anywhere else in the world—in other words, it’s the perfect place to acquire a Gucci bag or wallet that no one else has.
Culinary Experiences for Every Taste
From the internationally famous Chianti wine, passing through the local olive oil production, to the numerous types of pecorino cheeses, Tuscan salami, and exquisite seasonal white and black truffles, there is something for every taste in Florence’s San Lorenzo Market. The emblematic building hosts market stands with the most unusual ingredients, making this a paradise for food lovers. Arrive before midday, walk the corridors and have lunch in one of the trattorias.
Exceptional Scents at Perfume Ateliers
Established in 1612 by Dominican friars, the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is best known as a luxury perfume brand. In fact, it makes the products used in the Four Seasons Firenze Spa. Many of its products—perfumes, creams, powders, etc.—are still made according to the methods the friars used. Beyond the shop, there’s a little museum (visits by appointment) that contains apothecary’s bottles—some of which, it is said, were designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Incidentally, the products in the guest room bathrooms at Four Seasons are supplied by Florence’s other great perfumer, Lorenzo Villoresi, whose similarly atmospheric atelier can also be visited by appointment.
Explore Nearby Wineries
Tuscan wines are justly revered, and given how crowded and hot the city can sometimes seem, a tour of the region’s vineyards is a great excuse for a day in the countryside. (Room service can rustle up a picnic.) Among those most worth visiting: Badia a Passignano, not least for its sublime setting; Verrazzano (pictured); Castello di Fonterutoli; Capanelle; and Casa Emma. There is also a very good organic vineyard close to Florence called San Michele a Torri—as well as wines, they also produce excellent olive oil, and their homemade cold cuts are delicious.