Such a concentration of stunning beauty as that of Florence can easily cause confusion which is why it's preferable to take it in small doses, gradually discovering what the city has to offer. Before tackling the Basilica di Santa Croce, it is advisable to see the city from afar and from above, to embrace it in one glance, while sipping a glass of Sangiovese at dusk.
If you believe that real beauty is not within everyone’s reach, you are about to change your mind: here’s a guide for enjoying some of the most exclusive experiences the city of Florence can offer, spending up to 25, 50 or 100 Euros.
Up to 25 Euros
The ideal way to start is to climb towards Fiesole, the hill overlooking the city, in order to admire the landscape from the terrace of a luxurious refurbished XV century villa. Our appointment is at the Salviatino, one of the hotels belonging to this private collection.
An aperitif at sunset is an unforgettable experience and even on a small budget, you can afford one of the dishes from the lunch menu or a starter (such as warm octopus salad, potatoes with saffron and taggiasco olives or a little chick pea soup with morsels of crisp salted cod and mussels) washed down with a glass of Sauvignon. If you are downtown and considering a truly chic picnic, stop off at one of the most ancient and luxurious delis in Florence, in the historical via de’ Tornabuoi.
Going under the name of Procacci 1885, it was founded in Florence in 1885, but has also opened branch stores in Vienna, Singapore and Milan. It is actually a wine bar of the renowned Antinori label but also a food store offering exquisite delicacies. Don’t miss the tiny, fragrant rolls filled with various truffle-flavoured spreads (a mini roll costs from 2 to 4 Euros and can be accompanied with a fine glass of red wine at just 7 Euros).
From 25 to 50 Euros
On Sunday, the more traditional of visitors can opt for “Granny’s Sunday lunch”, a menu created by Fulvio Pierangelini for his new Irene restaurant inside the five-starred Hotel Savoy in Piazza della Repubblica. The menu consists of lasagnette, roast chicken and potatoes aromatized with rosemary, seasonal vegetables and zabaglione (25 Euros).
Il Palagio, a starred restaurant at one of the 5-star Four Seasons hotels is the reign of Vito Mollica. Non-resident guests can also dine in its majestic rooms and one of the signature dishes picked out from the à la carte menu will cost you 34 Euros. In return, you will get to taste the very essence of Italian food: cavatelli cacio pepe (cavatelli pasta with cacio cheese and black pepper) served with marinated red prawns and the tiniest calamari.
From June to September at the Al Fresco restaurant, located beside the swimming pool in the park, with 50 Euros you can enjoy a dessert and a gourmet pizza, such as the Napoli: tomato, cow’s milk mozzarella, San Filippo anchovies and capers from Salina.
A little gem belonging to the Lungarno Collection, owned by the Ferragamo family, is the Borgo San Jacopo. Here you can dine a few steps away from the river with a view of the Ponte Vecchio bridge, under the direction of the newly starred young chef, Peter Brunel. On this middle-of-the-road budget you can taste one of his dishes, guaranteed to amaze with unusual yet harmonious ingredient combinations such as the 4 Ziti (pasta) and 4 asparagus, kobe, sea urchins and mustard flavoured brown sauce paired with a glass of wine.
From 50 to 100 Euros
If your Sunday budget is higher, make sure not to miss the legendary Four Seasons Firenze brunch. Here too, it is starred chef Vito Mollica who is in charge of everything served up in the hotel throughout the day. Instead of just dining in the restaurant, you will have access to the entire ground floor of the Palazzo della Gherardesca where the hotel is located. Even the kitchen throws open its doors to welcome guests on Sundays and holidays (brunch costs 85 Euros a head from October to June).
For a perfect end to a perfect day, a view of Florence by night is a must and it’s well worth trying the renovated terrace of the Westin Excelsior Florence with its panoramic windows. The rooftop restaurant is called Se.Sto on Arno and occupies an entire floor of the five star hotel. Restaurant and bar areas are separated by a well stocked cellar, entirely on view to guests. For 85 Euros a head, chef Matteo Lorenzini offers a gourmet menu: entrée, spaghetti with seafood, beef fillet with black pepper sauce, sour shiso juice and an apple sphere similar to a tarte tatin.