There’s one overwhelming reason travelers flock to this tiny Italian city (pop. 365,000) amid Tuscany’s rolling green hills: Florence has more than one million works of Renaissance art—among them Michelangelo’s David and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. A hub of Italian fashion since the 1950s, Florence is the birthplace of global brands like Gucci, Pucci, and Roberto Cavalli, and the city’s most influential fashion clan—the Ferragamo—has turned its renowned sense of style to four hip hotels across town, breathing new life into the previously staid lodgings scene. Add to that succulent Florentine steaks, some of the world’s greatest wines, the traditional artisan workshops of the Oltrarno, and Brunelleschi’s famous masterpiece dome, and it’s not so hard to see how Firenze remains as popular as top European cities five times its size.
A private tour of an otherwise off-limits wing of the Uffizi containing the Contini Bonacossi collection of Renaissance masterworks.
Shopping the leather stalls of the San Lorenzo market or the fashion boutiques around Via Tornabuoni, especially the luxurious linens of Loretta Caponi and the monk-made cosmetics and liqueurs of the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella—both in frescoed palazzi.
Visiting the Teatro del Sale for an evening of authentic Italian food and entertainment—jazz singers, theater performances, and stand-up comedians—masterminded by eccentric restaurateur Fabio Picchi.