THE NEW FLORENCE
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.
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.
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.—