Milan Fashion Week is upon us, and much as we love to watch all those beautiful Italians strolling the Via Della Spiga, what really excites our Italophilia is the thought of hopping the Alta Velocità straight down to Florence afterwards.
For the perfect quick stay in Firenze, we consulted our very well connected friends at the Hotel Savoy, the Rocco Forte Collection’s exceedingly swish sleep located directly on the dramatic Piazza Della Repubblica. Its L’Incontro bar and restaurant (pictured below), where we’ve whiled away many a fascinating evening, is ever a meeting point for the international culture set; and the Savoy’s plush but sexy rooms are some of the most stylish in this exceptionally style forward Renaissance city.
THE HOTEL SAVOY RECOMMENDS
This beautiful and captivating three-story space is arranged thematically, rather than chronologically. This allows for the pleasure of dipping into all sorts of wonderful displays of Gucci craftsmanship, having been collected for the last fifteen years by curator Grazia Venneri: a zebra-skin suitcase from the 30’s; the 50’s Grace Kelly primavera-like floral print echoed on exquisite wallpaper; a duo of tricolored enamel necklaces from the 70’s; wonderful watches galore; surfboards; and a 1979 Gucci Cadillac Seville, of which no other description is more appropriate than “awesome.”
Villoresi—one of the last great artisanal perfumers of Europe—will design for you a couture fragrance that no one else in the world can possess, distilling your essence into liquid gold. He sees just a few clients a day, by appointment only. The atelier, in an ancient Florentine palazzo, is part of the penthouse that was once Villoresi’s bachelor pad. It has one of those almost mythic views of Florence: the green Arno, the austere palaces, the rooftops and hills.
(His family home is now a hotel, Villa Villoresi, a lovely place just outside the city with fading frescoes, the longest loggia in Italy, and lush gardens perfumed spring and summer by lemon trees in terracotta pots.)
At the Central Market, fresh produce, meats, fish and cheese are in abundance, and you can pick up all sorts of seasonal delights. Imagine a fancy food court, combining tasting stands, shops and a cooking school in 3000 square meters with 500 seats and 12 different food stands. In the newly renovated space everything is shiny, bright and new with all sorts of stands featuring Italy’s favorites: mozzarella di bufala, pizza from the south, a Chianti wine tasting corner, a gelato & chocolate stand, a veggie stand where you can get freshly squeezed juice and veggie soup puree, as well as fresh seafood, fresh pasta, bread and so much more.
Standing at the eastern periphery of the splendid 13th-century church of Santa Croce—one of Florence’s must-see sights—the Scuola del Cuoio is where you can watch skilled artisans at work; and, should you be sufficiently inspired, you can, in a manner, join in.
The school runs a series of workshops, and visitors can participate in three hour- or week-long courses to learn the art directly from these masters. Now run by Laura Gori, daughter of one of the original founders, it continues to train apprentices and produce exquisite leather goods: wallets, purses, spectacles cases, belts, as well as handbags and briefcases in calfskin, ostrich, stingray, alligator, Nappa and snakeskin. Everything is handmade on site.
“The Scuola still has the atmosphere of a Renaissance workshop,” says Gori. “But then this is how we still work in Florence, producing high-quality goods with an artisan spirit. Our city is not just about buildings and museums, but also very much the skills, talents, arts and crafts passed on from master to apprentice.”
The Repubblica Suite at Hotel Savoy
After the hectic pace of Milan Fashion Week, treat yourself to a stay in the plush atmosphere of the Savoy’s Repubblica Suite (pictured below). With its 110 square meters, it has spectacular views from four balconies of the piazza and The Column of Abundance, which marks the exact centre of Florence.
Il Santo Bevitore, which may be conspicuously hip(ster), but is also one of the truly innovative restaurants in Firenze at the moment.
Sei Divino, cool little wine bar, one of Florence’s buzziest aperitivo scenes.
Images courtesy of Rocco Forte’s Hotel Savoy