Florence, Tuscany and the Perfect Italian Getaway
There are many many cool hotels in Florence city centre; however, they all come with a price tag… and not a small one! Our top two luxe-for-less, and I mean value for money in Florence, are definitely luxe, definitely stylish, and are in great central locations. Flo Room also has a great EATS guide on their website so make sure you check it out if you plan on visiting Florence. Here is our top list:
But if you’re going to visit Florence in the summer, the city can be very hot and crowded with tourists… so we suggest staying a few nights or more at the lovely luxe-for-less Ponte di Certosa just 4.4 km outside the centre. It’s much too hot to spend more than a few days in the city centre, and if you’re in Tuscany you’ve got to get out and enjoy Tuscany, properly!
Here’s our fabulous tried and tested itinerary for you:
Rent a car at Florence airport and park your butt at Ponte di Certosa for at least 5 nights. Rooms here are large and include a large relaxing living room. The lovely young woman who owns the B&B cooks fresh muffins and croissants for breakfast and serves up an excellent espresso macchiato. She will also give you a load of excellent tips of where to eat and what to do in Florence. You can sit outside on the terrace and enjoy a relaxing morning before you head into Florence for some city touring. Heavenly.
Arrival day. Enjoy the views of the Tuscan hillside at your front step, relax, read. Walk down the hill into the small village for dinner at the local hotel restaurant at the bottom of your street called Il Giardino, and indulge in fresh pasta, fish and pizza … To die for!
Day 2 and 3:
Spend at least two days in Florence as there are a lot of sights worth seeing such as the David, the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio and Florence even has a newly opened museum of modern art (see here for info), which is a total novelty for the locals of course.
There is fabulous shopping in the city center and there is an awesome outlet mall just 20mins drive outside Florence, called The Mall. It has every Italian outlet shop you ever dreamed of… and with a good selection: Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Moncler, Lanvin… to name a few.
Definitely spend two nights out eating in Florence. The food is amazing just about everywhere you go. I know this should go without saying but it is easy to be fooled by terrible tourist restaurants, so stay away from restaurants with pictures of their food on the menu. They are usually located near the tourist attractions like the Duomo. I love following the Guardian’s city guide of where to eat, as they have never steered me wrong. Check out their Florence food guide here.
Get out to the Tuscan countryside. Visit Tenuta Casanova in Castellina in Chianti, 40 minute drive from Florence, for a 4-6 hr cooking class, wine, farm and balsamico tasting tour. The hosts/chefs are unreal – so friendly and passionate. They make their own wine and 30 year old balsamic vinegar! Their farm and vineyard is simply stunning, I guarantee you will have a wonderful day here.
Start off by picking fresh tomatoes, rosemary, zucchini and everything you will cook with. Then dive into cooking 6-7 courses with the beautiful Rita. All her own recipes. Finally, sit out in the garden and eat your hearts out of fresh italian gourmet food that you so proudly made from scratch. The scrumptious menu includes: fresh homemade pasta (any type you like), 3 types of homemade focaccia, zucchini tart (fresh zucchini from the farm), ricotta, chive and onion stuffed tomatoes, roasted peppers antipasti, and tiramisu. Seriously, you will have never tasted tomatoes like this anywhere in the world. Only in Tuscany in the summer months are they this mouth watering.
Depending on what time you finish (either 1:30 or 3:30pm), spend the rest of the day in the countryside or visit Sienna as it’s only another 40 minute drive from Tenuta Casanova.
Leave Florence, drive North along the coast and head to the beach. It takes 2 hours to get to the stunning Cinque Terre (google map La Spezia or Cinque Terre). It’s 2.5 hrs to Genoa and if you want to venture all the way to France, it is approximately 4.5 hrs to Nice. If you fancy lakes and mountains instead of beaches, we highly recommend driving 4.5 hrs North but inland to Lake Como. Stay at Borgo Le Terrazze just a 15-20 minute walk outside the posh and reknown Bellagio.