We like to think we know how to spot what’s special about a city within moments of arriving there – not least in Italy, where last year we spent a lot of time scouring cobbled streets and Renaissance piazzas for secrets to share in our recent Italy hotel guide.
Meet some like-minded spirits: founders of online magazine An Affair with Italy Julie Adams and Emma Scott (right) travel the world capturing beautiful, heartfelt, inspiring and often unexpected stories about all things Italian. Having just returned from a recent trip to Italy, Julie and Emma share five of their favourite reasons to fall in love with Florence…
On one of our first nights in Florence, Julie and I excitedly bounded up the stairs to the roof top bar at stunning hotel, the Continentale. We had been told the view was spectacular but actually… it was breathtaking. We were so moved by the experience that we literally had goose bumps. A drink at the Continentale’s rooftop bar is a must do on any Florence trip.
Continentale, 2 Via Tornabuoni 6r Vicolo dell’Oro, Florence 50123
I first discovered the small Italian soap and scent company Ortigia when I stumbled across the wonderfully vibrant shop on a previous trip to Florence. As a designer, I fell in love with the bold, hand-drawn illustrations of palm trees and leopards silhouetted against an array of Sicilian landscape-inspired bright colours. Initially, the visual brand drew me in, but it’s the product that keeps me coming back – beautiful scents, luxurious textures and formulas of natural indigenous Sicilian ingredients. I adore the translucent soap range, each tinted in a different colour (I’m collecting every fragrance). Ortigia is one of my first stops whenever I visit Florence.
Ortigia, Borgo San Jacopo 12r, Florence 50125 (+39 055 282129)
For a truly authentic Florentine experience, you can’t go past the famous Cibreo Café – incredible food and a wonderful atmosphere: visit the market early in the morning and pop into the famous Caffè Cibrèo for a coffee and pastry at the bar. You will feel like you are part of the Florentine world. And while you are there, watch the locals descend on the adjacent Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio markets for the freshest of local ingredients. Make sure you don’t leave without your own bundle of goodies – perhaps a punnet of juicy tomatoes or a wonderfully pungent slice of mouth-watering cheese.
Caffé Cibreo, Via del Verrocchio 5r, Florence (+39 055 2345853)
Anywhere I go I love a bit of vintage treasure hunting, so I was thrilled to discover the Florence mercantino or flea market found at Piazza dei Ciompi – a wonderful collection of shops and stalls selling antiques, art, old books and various vintage bits and pieces. The stalls are set up in the shadow of Vasari’s Loggia del Pesce, but don’t miss the last Sunday of the month, when vendors come from outside Florence and the makeshift shops extend out to the surrounding streets.
Mercatino, Piazza dei Ciompi, Florence
Look no further… this is your home away from home. From the moment we walked through the doors of the elegant JK Place, Florence we knew we had found somewhere very special. Mr Ori Kafri, the genius hotelier behind the brand, truly understands service. His philosophy: when you come to JK Place consider it your home away from home. Mr Kafri has gone to great lengths to ensure at every moment of your stay you feel a warmth and care, normally reserved for moments with family and friends. Somehow you feel like you’re the only ones in this stylish boutique hotel… with your own private service staff.
JK Place Firenze, 7 Piazza Santa Maria Novella, Florence 50123