Golden hues, gourmet activities and grandeur galore – here’s how to spend a luxury autumnal weekend in Florence
Summer isn’t the only time of year for an Italian adventure. Firenze is just as beautiful in the leafy days of autumn, when the usual crowds dissipate and the boiling pockets of heat fade to gentler temperatures.
Stroll across the medieval Ponte Vecchio bridge and swap the ice cream for a frothy cappuccino, climb up the 414 steps of the Duomo’s terracotta-tiled bell tower and gawp at Renaissance artworks in the Piazza della Signoria.
With ample amounts of edible adventures on offer, as well as plenty of exhibitions, opera performances and events, here’s how to spend a luxury weekend in this ancient city.
Where to stay
1 Best for something boutique: Velona’s Jungle Luxury Suites
A luxury B&B with a mere quartet of rooms, Velona’s Jungle is planted on the third floor of a regal mid-century palazzo in central Florence. The property’s past is as interesting as its current interiors.
A former family home of Pasquale Velona, a widely-known Florentine antiques dealer, his daughter converted the abode into four truly stupendous suites.
Ideally located for explorers, it’s a 15-minute walk away from the city’s famed Ponte Vecchio bridge and other attractions – and only ten from the city centre if you walk fast. But it’s the inside rather than the exterior that really captures the imagination with Velona’s Jungle.
Think flamboyant wallpaper, rainforest-print textiles and vibrant, eye-catching colour. It’s Instagrammable enough to convert even the Aumish.
Rooms from £140 per night. To find out more, click here.
2 Best for something exclusive: Villa La Massa
Nestled firmly outside of Florence, experience a world of old-fashioned luxury at Villa La Massa. The impressive estate consists of three separate buildings, which are full of regal furnishings and gilded paintings within.
Surrounded by formal gardens and gravel paths outwards, there’s no chance of a noisy city stay. Guests are a 20 minute drive from rural paradise to the bustle of Ponte Vecchio, offering a sense of calming escape for those who prefer space and serenity.
Guests can either stay in the main Medici villa for rooms with an archaic feel (think four-poster beds and antique furnishings) or opt for a room in the smaller Villino annexe, which is positioned across the grounds and connected to the restaurant.
The Il Verrocchio restaurant (where guests also enjoy a vast buffet breakfast) offers both an impressive indoor space with vaulted ceilings as well as an al fresco terrace experience. The menu is classic, with a host of fine dining dishes. Think local meats, fish and of course, pasta delights.
Rooms start from £460 per night. To find out more, visit villalamassa.com.
Where to dine
1 For daytime pitstops: ‘Ino
Pull up a stool at this friendly hotspot. It may only be open during the day, but this lively, modern deli and wine bar is the perfect place to rest your weary feet after a morning or afternoon of adventuring through Florence’s many fascinating facades.
Dig into paninis with a gourmet edge, made with artisan bread and completed with generous fillings such as Robiola cheese, Zibello ham and juicy Crusco red peppers. If that doesn’t tempt, the cold platters and salads certainly will. inofirenze.com
2 For stylish sips: La Terrazza
Sky high sips will never go out of fashion. Take the elevator up to La Terrazza, a sophisticated cocktail bar hidden on the top floor of Hotel Continentale.
Surrounded with sweeping views of the Arno river, Brunelleschi’s Dome, San Miniato, Palazzo Vecchio and the endless horizon, La Terrazza’s enticing menu is the perfect way to wile away a few hours.
The sparkling cocktails are especially good – order the Fizzy From East (€20) for a refreshing mix of 42 below vodka, lychee liqueur, lemon juice, and franciacorta. lungarnocollection.com
3 For chic eats: Irene
Ideal for the shoppers, Hotel Savoy is an elegant abode found at the heart of the city centre, with The Duomo only steps away. Designer temptation surrounds the building, with stores and shops stretching out along the cobbled streets.
After you’ve maxed the credit card, pay a visit to Irene, the hotel’s equally swish restaurant, for a relaxed yet delicious meal. Serving modern Tuscan treats and wine with outdoor seating in the piazza’s centre, it’s perfect for an evening spent swilling glasses and people watching. roccofortehotels.com
4 For a Michelin mouthful: Cucina Torcicoda
If it’s fine dining you seek, this award-winning Tuscan restaurant offers haute cuisine with a smile. Found just a few steps from Piazza Santa Croce and within close walking distance to the Ponte Vecchio, this little hub is an osteria, pizzeria and restaurant all rolled into one.
Sip your way through over 300 wine labels, tear slices from wood-fired pizza or order the house speciality – Florentine steak made from different types of beef. cucinatorcicoda.com
What to do
1 Try a golden dinner on the Ponte Vecchio
Romance in the air? Schmooze your other half with this special enchanting experience. Enjoy exclusive access to the bridge’s only open-air terrace and watch the sun slowly set over the Arno River whilst savouring a four-course meal – designed by none other than Michelin-starred chef Vito Mollica. One word – dreamy. fourseasons.com
2 Visit the La Terracotta and Wine festival, 24 – 25 November 2018
Ideal for the foodies, the third edition of “Terracotta and Wine 2018” will return with a wave of wine in tow this November. Visit to sample amphora wine from every region in Italy and various countries from across the globe.
Taking place in the historical location of Fornace Agresti, an 18th century terracotta workshop, 42 producers will take centre stage – highlighting their wines made specially in terracotta. terracottaevino.com
3 Truffle hunt with Tuscany’s experts at Belmond Castello di Casole
Tuscany is home to some of the most delectable truffles on earth – and autumn’s the perfect time to find them. Join Belmond Castello di Casole on a truffle hunt through its beautiful ancient estate, accompanied by an expert guide who’ll teach you all you need to know.
Post-hunt, you’ll then taste your findings at a celebratory meal at Bar Visconti. belmond.com