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Hotels We Love: Four Seasons Florence

While there are many lush and luxurious hotels in the world, not many feel like a fairy tale brought to life as much as the Four Seasons Florence does.

Home to the second largest private garden in Florence, the Four Seasons boasts some absolutely dreamy scenic views. It’s really no shock to learn that it was even owned by a Pope at one point in time! Rich in history, the hotel feels like a refined jewel of Florence. The Palazzo Della Gherardesca, dating all the way back to the 15th century, and a former convent from the 16th century houses the main hotel and event space. The surrounding gardens, sculptures and villa are so magnificently well maintained, the history seeps from every nook and cranny of the space. You can imagine a fairy tale unfolding in its lush gardens.

Hotels We Love: Four Seasons FlorenceHotels We Love: Four Seasons FlorenceHotels We Love: Four Seasons Florence

Inside, the enormous frescoed hallways, marbled floors and hand painted roofs house some of the most elegantly detailed Renaissance suites. If there were ever a place to feel like a princess in her castle, this might be it!

The Four Seasons Florence is so perfectly placed in the epicenter of the Renaissance city. Quiet and secluded, yet centrally located within walking distance to the Uffizi Gallery, The David and Florence’s Duomo, the hotel feels like a little slice of history worthy of Michelango, da Vinci, Botticelli or Raphael to traipse through.

Hotels We Love: Four Seasons Florence Hotels We Love: Four Seasons Florence Hotels We Love: Four Seasons Florence

In between the rushing crowds and feasting your eyes on Florence’s mountains of art and history, The Four Seasons feels like an absolute retreat. If you’re needing a moment of absolute peace and relaxation from the hustle and bustle, their Michelin starred restaurant Il Palagio might be the perfect way to end your day. Savoring their signature cavatelli pasta cacio e pepe with red prawns and baby squids (titled “dish of the year” and made by hand by the “chef of the year”) is one serious treat. And by treat, I mean, probably one of the best meals you’ll have ever!

The Four Seasons Florence is also all about serving up unique and total bucket-worthy experiences for guests… a big perk for a gal who wants to make the most of her time abroad. Their “Firenze Yes Please,” program gives private tours, ranging from historic gondola rides down the Arno River, after-hours events in the Uffizi Gallery and dinner on the Ponte Vecchio. It’s always nice when your lodging can also add special experiences like these to your itinerary.

Hotels We Love: Four Seasons Florence Hotels We Love: Four Seasons Florence Hotels We Love: Four Seasons Florence Hotels We Love: Four Seasons Florence

When in Florence, the shining light of Renaissance art, invention and history, it feels like a special treat to immerse yourself in every aspect of  its age… including your lodging. Staying at the Four Seasons Florence is just the place to do that. Every detail of the hotel is like a slice of intentional Renaissance art put on display. It’s the perfect setting to start a romance with the city of Florence.



Europe Insider Tips

Tuscan Towns: A Photo Diary

Tuscany is full of countless darling towns scattered through the rolling hills of the countryside. On a trip to Tuscany, you’re sure to be memorized by scenes of cypress trees and Tuscan villas. Strolling by outdoor cafes, gelato shops and cobblestoned alleys, it’s easy to fall in love with any Tuscan town, but these are a few of my favorites.  

Tuscany as a whole is known worldwide for amazing wine, but Montepulciano and Montalcino specifically produce Brunello. Be sure to try this specialty when visiting the region. E Lucevan le Stelle is a nice wine bar near one of many lookout points in Montepulciano.

Insider Tip: You wouldn’t know from the front, but Caffè Poliziano has the most darling balcony in the back facing the countryside.

Tuscan Towns: A Photo DiaryTuscan Towns: A Photo DiaryTuscan Towns: A Photo Diary

San Gimignano 
I’m not going to lie to you, I really only visited San Gimignano for the gelato and the gelato alone. Gelateria Dondali has won several gelato world championships and there’s a line out into the piazza to prove it. Go later in the evening after the crowds have died down. If you’re after more than world famous gelato, the town is also known for its fourteen medieval towers.

Tuscan Towns: A Photo DiaryTuscan Towns: A Photo DiaryTuscan Towns: A Photo Diary

Built of medieval brick, Siena is a university city in central Tuscany. I think of Siena as the younger, hip sister to the more refined city of Florence. Head over to Fortezza Medicea for views of the city painted in shades of burnt sienna after grabbing a pastry and caffé at Bar Pasticceria Nannini. In the evening, Piazza del Campo fills with socializing students, locals on their evening passeggiata and tourist taking their part in the celebrated Italian pastime of aperitivo.

Tuscan Towns: A Photo DiaryTuscan Towns: A Photo Diary

This little town is a must if you are fan of Under the Tuscan Sun. I adore that movie and Eat, Pray, Love (really any movie with a female protagonist in Italy!). You can stay at Villa Laura where they filmed the movie or drive by the actual Bramasole, the private home of author Frances Mayes. After strolling through the shops and taking in the views, relax on the steps in the main piazza and watch the town walk by. It’s a perfect Tuscan town!

No list of places in Tuscany would be complete without the capital city, Florence. I especially like Florence during December with its charming Christmas decorations. There’s also a quaint Christmas market in Piazza Santa Croce selling local and German specialties like cheese, panettone, ornaments and glühwein. Lines to Florence’s treasures like Michelango’s David and the Uffizi (and to get a panino at All’Antico Vinaio) are much shorter in the off-season too.

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Europe Food Insider Tips

8 Places to Visit on a Day Trip to Florence

I’d always dreamed of traveling to Italy. The seaside villages, colorful gelato, delicious pasta and sparkling beaches all comprised my perfect European paradise. So when it came time to plan my first visit, I decided I wanted to see, taste and experience as much as I could in two weeks. Instead of slowly moving from one city to the next (my usual style), the plan was to base myself in Tuscany and see lots of places by day trip. Thankfully, Italy’s efficient rail system made all of this very doable. I was amazed at all I squeezed into a few days, and one of my favorite little adventures was a trip to the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance – Florence.

1. Duomo
I took the earliest train from Tuscany and found myself in Firenze by 7 AM. I had a laundry list of sculptures, churches and views I wanted to visit, but more than anything I wanted to see the city’s soaring Duomo. I headed straight away on foot, and was at the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore by 8 AM. It was absolutely breathtaking, especially in the early hours with no crowds and no tourists (the prefect time for photos).

2. Loggia Dei Lanzi
I’d always loved history and old architecture, but artwork and museums had never really been my thing. So as I started my morning wanders through Florence, I was amazed by the effect these Renaissance marvels had on me – particularly the sculptures scattered throughout the city. The garden of marble statues at the Loggia dei Lanzi was one of my favorites, and an easy stroll from the Duomo.

3. Uffizi Gallery
The Uffizi Gallery is at the top of most Florence lists, but with only 10 hours in the city, I couldn’t realistically visit the museum without sacrificing an entire day of sightseeing. So I decided to save the museum for another trip, but still strolled its outdoor gallery of Florentine statues – Macchiavelli, DaVinci, Vespucci, etc. For anyone else without time for the museum, I thought this was a beautiful little taste, and it left me wanting more.

4. Venchi
As I traveled through Italy, I found myself eating sweets and treats at all hours of the day. So I was delighted to find a Venchi chocolate shop, a short walk from the Uffizi Gallery. Gelato, pastries, chocolate – you name it, I tried it all at Venchi.

5. Piazzale Michaelangelo
It took some work to reach one of my favorite views in Italy, but was well worth the effort. From the Uffizi Gallery, I headed across the Arno, and then up to the Piazzale Michaelangelo. I’d found the dreamiest spot to soak in the skyline with the Duomo and Campanile rising up over the picturesque city. The panoramic scenes over Florence were breathtaking. After snapping dozens of photos, I climbed even higher to the Basilica San Miniato al Monte, for yet another magical view of Firenze.

6. Piazza Santo Spirito
I love dining to good vibes, and the Piazza Santo Spirito lined with cafes, restaurants and bars oozed with infectious energy. It was the perfect lunch spot, located on the same side of the Arno as the Piazzale Michaelangelo, and close to my next stop – the Palazzo Pitti. There were plentiful outdoor dining options on the piazza, I went with Trattoria Borgo Antico, scarfing down a large helping of delicious pomodoro spaghetti – my go to lunch dish in Italy.

7. Palazzo Pitti
My last stop was a quick visit to the Palazzo Pitti. The transformed palace offered a full day of Renaissance gems, but with an afternoon train to catch, I skipped the museum and settled for the gorgeous grounds. The gardens were beautiful to wander and channel my inner princess – perfect hedges of green accented by gravel boulevards and bright white statues.

8. Arno
And it wouldn’t have been a proper trip to Florence without a stroll along the Arno. Quiet in the mornings and bustling by midday, the stretch surrounding the Ponte Vecchio offered some of the prettiest views over the famous river. And strolling the bridge felt like a step back in time as I weaved through the crowds of tourists browsing the adorable little jewelry shops. It was a whirlwind daytrip to Florence, but enough of a taste to know that I’ll be back very soon. Ciao, Firenze! ♡