Home to such masterpieces as Michelangelo’s David and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Florence is a city of wonders. But tackling all of the city’s gems on a single trip can be daunting.
Luckily, a lifetime in this historic metropolis has equipped Hotel Brunelleschi chief concierge Sergio Iannotta with a wealth of knowledge about this Renaissance city. Forbes Travel Guide sat down with the local guide to get his tips on what to do, see and taste in Florence right now.
If we only have one day to spend in Florence, what should we do?
Most people who come to Florence for the very first time are attracted by the very high-level masterpieces here and the beautiful sceneries of the surrounding hills of rich vineyards and olive groves.
Most of them spend their first day in Florence exploring and shopping, or visiting the Uffizi [Gallery], Accademia and [Piazza del] Duomo that are “must see” [attractions] in town. In case of nice weather, they can decide for an excursion to Siena, San Gimignano and Chianti.
As many [visitors] come back, they enjoy the special atmosphere of Florence just strolling or looking around, exploring the tiny streets with medieval towers, the elegant Renaissance buildings with huge 500-year-old wooden doors, paths with views, and at night, they can enjoy operas or small concerts in scenic churches.
Which museums should we visit?
A new museum recently opened in town is the Roberto Casamonti collection. It is a private collection now open to the public, located in one of the most peculiar buildings of the Renaissance: Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni built [by] Baccio d’Agnolo in the early 16th century. The part of the collection now on [display] includes paintings from de Chirico, Picasso and Warhol.
Hopefully, soon we’ll get Uffizi completely reorganized [editor’s note: the famed museum is undergoing renovations]. In the meantime, it is possible to admire the recently unveiled rooms devoted to Botticelli, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
I would [also] suggest visiting the Marino Marini museum mainly to see a Renaissance masterpiece: the tiny scale copy of Christ’s Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem realized by Leon Battista Alberti in the 15th century that is a true example of passion and dedication.
Where’s the best place to grab a drink after a day of museum hopping?
We often suggest hotel rooftop bars or the classic musts: in the daytime, Rivoire with its beautiful view over Palazzo Vecchio and in the nighttime, Paszkowski, which has live music every evening.
What about dinner?
We are very lucky having in our house chef Rocco de Santis. He is giving satisfactory experiences in the intimate setting of our Santa Elisabetta restaurant.
In the touristy Signoria Square with the opening of the Gucci Garden, [Ristorante] Frescobaldi and Fëdor Bistro, now we [have] a high-level cuisine corner.
Located in a medieval building hidden in a tiny street, I like to suggest Locale. Beautifully decorated, it has a lively bar and a contemporary cuisine.
A casual trattoria specializing in original Chianina steak and truffles called Dall’Oste is also getting enthusiastic feedback.—Sarah Chanin