THE NEW FLORENCE

Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia - - TRAVEL + LEISURE - D.A.

The city re­wards a longer stay than most vis­i­tors bud­get. Once you've taken in the Re­nais­sance mas­ter­works, spend a few days ex­plor­ing the over­looked cor­ners and outer neigh­bor­hoods. GET­TING THERE AND AROUND

There are no di­rect flights from South­east Asia to Florence, but mul­ti­ple car­ri­ers of­fer con­nec­tions from Eu­ro­pean hubs, in­clud­ing Paris and Zurich. Though taxi stands abound, one of the plea­sures of Florence is that you can get just about ev­ery­where on foot.

LODG­ING

Stay­ing at the Four Sea­sons Ho­tel

Firenze (foursea­sons.com; dou­bles from €875) was one of the high­lights of my trip. Oc­cu­py­ing a 15th-cen­tury palazzo, the ho­tel was a lav­ish, pri­vate oa­sis af­ter a day spent ex­plor­ing the city. The prop­er­ties op­er­ated by the Lun­garno Col­lec­tion of­fer a more mod­ern take on lux­ury. The coolly min­i­mal Gallery Ho­tel Art (lun­gar­nocol­lec­tion.com; dou­bles from €300) is pro­fusely dec­o­rated with con­tem­po­rary sculp­ture and pho­tog­ra­phy, while the Con­ti­nen­tale (lun­gar­nocol­lec­tion. com; dou­bles from €325) chan­nels mid-20th-cen­tury Ital­ian de­sign.

EAT & DRINK

Af­ter years of be­ing re­garded as be­hind the curve, Florence's din­ing scene has evolved into one of the most com­pelling in Italy. At Ci­blèo (cibleo.com; prix fixe €55), Fabio Pic­chi, the city's undis­puted culi­nary king, serves up an omakase-style mix of Ital­ian, Ja­panese, Chi­nese and Korean tapas. La Mé­nagère (lame­nagere. it; mains €15–€30) is a beau­ti­ful, airy space with fine din­ing in the rear and a ca­sual bistro up front, as well as a florist and a small shop that sells home goods. The Ol­trarno neigh­bor­hood's ca­su­ally hip din­ing scene is an­chored by Il Santo Be­vi­tore (il­san­to­be­vi­tore.com; mains €9–€26), where re­fined takes on Ital­ian clas­sics are served in a cozy space. An ad­ja­cent wine bar, Il Santino, of­fers small bites to a bois­ter­ous crowd. I par­tic­u­larly en­joyed the in­ven­tive menu at Gur­dulù (gur­dulu.com; mains €20–€38, tast­ing menus from €56), a stylish spot out of a Fellini film.

For cock­tails, there's no bet­ter place than the rooftop bar of the Con­ti­nen­tale, with its sub­lime views of the terra-cotta sky­line.

ART & CUL­TURE

A trip to Florence isn't com­plete with­out a visit to the Uf­fizi Gallery (uf­fizi.it) and a pil­grim­age to see Michelan­gelo's David at the Gal­le­ria dell’Ac­cademia (ac­cademia.org). Thank­fully, the city has launched a new web­site, des­ti­na­tion­flo­rence.com, to make the tick­et­ing process less chaotic. If you feel over­whelmed by the crowds, head for the Palazzo Strozzi (palaz­zostrozzi.org), the city's con­tem­po­rary art foun­da­tion, or the Gucci Gar­den (gucci.com/ guc­ci­gar­den), where a his­tory of the brand sheds light on Florence's role as the birth­place of mod­ern Ital­ian fash­ion. For a glimpse into the city's new creative scene, check out Numeroventi (numeroventi.it), an artists' res­i­dency in an old palazzo that opens its doors for monthly ex­hi­bi­tions.

SHOP­PING

Ol­trarno has long been home to Florence's crafts­peo­ple. Seek out Morte­gan (morte­gan.com), maker of exquisite leather goods, and Bar­tolozzi e Maioli (bar­tolozzie maioli.it), a wood-carv­ing stu­dio that has pro­duced in­tri­cately de­tailed sculp­tures for the past 80 years. New bou­tiques have started crop­ping up in the area. My fa­vorites were Cam­pucc10 (cam­pucc10.com), which show­cases ob­jects and prints by lo­cal artists, and Gi­u­lia Ma­te­ria (giu­lia­ma­te­ria.com), where the stock ranges from cloth­ing to note­books bound in vin­tage wall­pa­per. If you're look­ing for high-end women's shoes, visit Aquaz­zura (aquaz­zura.com). Ris­ing star Edgardo Os­o­rio con­ceives his col­lec­tions in the stu­dio above the store.—

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