Idealist City Guide: FLORENCE

Florence, the beautiful capital of the district of Tuscany, is located in the heart of Italy’s northwest coast. The stunning medieval city is one of the most beautiful cities in the world with its overflow of churches and palaces, and museums filled with masterful paintings and sculptures. Known for its leather goods, inlaid furniture and decorative items and gilded frames and boxes, Florence is a mecca for those looking to outfit their homes with unique, one-of-a-kind objects. Whether your taste is modern or traditional, there are plenty of shops to explore.

Style Shopping

Flair. Located in a classic Florentine townhouse with high ceilings and intricately-carved mouldings, Flair offers a diverse selection of high-end furniture, home decor and floor coverings. We particularly like their collection of modern sculpture. Be sure to see some of the fine work they have on display.

Banchi. If brass appeals to you, you won’t want to miss a trip to Banchi. This design studio features ornate, brass door hardware, lamps and even picture frames. You can even order custom-made hardware that looks like it was made in the 19th century. The shop at 10 via dei Serragli is a little off of the tourist track, but well worth the extra steps.

Mio. Mio’s ever-changing array of merchandise is colourful and fun to look at as well as intriguing to buy. Recent finds have included Danish modern-style chairs, upholstered with Roy Lichtenstein print fabric; glass cabinet handles that resemble cupcakes and life-size paper mache sculptures. If you love modern design, like we do, Mio is a must-see.

Roche Bobois. One of the top furniture stores in Italy, and our personal favourite, Roche Bobois features high-end chairs, sofas, desks and tables for all of the rooms in your home. As you would expect in Florence, they carry an extensive array of leather upholstered furniture. Be sure to check out the sleek patio sets.

Riccardo Barthel. If your taste runs to antique furnishings, make sure to make time for a visit to this stylish design emporium. You’ll find everything here from hand-carved, vintage chairs and sideboards to custom-made bathroom and kitchen fixtures and hardware. We are enchanted by the fact that one of this company’s specialties is designing custom tree houses.

Staying Over

If you really want to immerse yourself in Florentine style, you can’t do any better than to stay at Loggiato dei Serviti, an historic hotel located just off of Michelangelo Square. All of the rooms in the 16th century building area decorated with period antiques, but don’t fear; they still have air-conditioning and free WiFi.

Galleries and Museums

You could spend a month or more in Florence and not see all of the important museums and galleries in the city. However, if you have a limited amount of time, be sure to visit the Uffizi Gallery with its collection of works by da Vinci, Giotto, Botticelli and Michelangelo; the Accademia Gallery, home to Michelangelo’s “David;” and the Pitti Palace, with its royal apartments and paintings by Rapahel, Titian and Rubens.


Tuscan food is famous throughout the world. In fact Florence has lent its name to a number of “Florentine” dishes, most of which feature sauteed spinach and garlic. Make sure to try panzanella, the region’s delicious bread salad with fresh basil, onions, olive oil and tomatoes; Florentine steak, a t-bone-style steak cut from local cattle and topped with a sweet bilbury sauce; and the smooth, delicious gelato found all over the city. Of course, no trip to Florence is complete without sampling at least one of the many Chiantis from the Tuscan region.

Must-See Things in Town

In addition to the excellent shopping and museums to be found in Florence, don’t leave the city without visiting the iconic Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the symbol of the city; the charming Ponte Vecchio that spans the Arno River; and the Villa Bardini, which offers sweeping views of the city from its stone patio.

How to Visit from London

Florence is easy to get to from London via air. The flight takes about 2.25 hours to get the city’s Amerigo Vespucci Airport. Expect to pay around £ 150 roundtrip. Public bus service connects the airport with the city centre.

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