How to spend a relaxed summer day in the heart of the Renaissance with a balance of culture, cafes, and a little bit of shopping…
8AM Waking up in my room with a view at the Savoy right on Piazza della Repubblica. My extra comfortable bed makes for a good night sleep and after a shower I have a bit of fruit from the breakfast buffet. I hold off having coffee so as to have it at Gilli across the street.
9:15AM Quick caffe at the counter at Gilli before heading out for some exploration. Lots of options, but I start with a visit to Santa Maria Novella to take in important Early Renaissance art work without the crowds. Masaccio’s Holy Trinity marks the beginning of the Renaissance, and the extensive work of the Tornabouni Chapel has work by Ghirlandaio, Da Vinci’s teacher, and showcases meticulously painted frescos on the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Some of the best examples if Italian painting of the era are in this bejeweled church and without the long queues like at the Uffizzi gallery.
11:30AM No trip to Florence is complete without a stop in the Farmacia de Santa Maria Novella to pick up some of their one of a kind forest scented potpourri and a bottle of their Acqua Colonia fragrance, the original perfume made for Catherine de Medici.
1PM A leisurely walk over to the Mercato Centrale where the upper floor has many lunch options on offer. Several different food counters, wine bars, food shops are temptations for the best of Italian food choices. A nice truffle panini or a slice of pizza, salad, fresh cooked vegetables or plates of pasta.
2:30PM A bit of shopping starting at the Via Tornabuoni and surroundings. Scarves at Faliero Sarti and decorative paper gifts at Il Papiro make great souvenirs.
4:30PM When the heat and crowds gets to be too much, sitting on the terrace of Rivoire with views over the Piazza della Signoria to have and iced coffee or an iconic Negroni makes for a great tonic. Linger a while and take in La Dolce Vita.
6PM A spiritual visit to San Miniato al Monte to listen to the monks chant vespers is a rare and moving experience. After the service, take the short walk to Piazzale Michelangelo to look over one of the best views over Florence in the entire city.
7:3oPM Time for a glass of fine wine aperitivo at Le Volpe e l’uva in Oltrarno, one of the best wine bars in Florence before walking down the road to have Tuscan cuisine at the lively Santo Bevitore.
10PM A short and easy walk across the river I make my way back to the Savoy. Pausing briefly on the Ponte Santa Trinity to observe the Ponte Vecchio. Back at the Savoy I enjoy a nightcap glass of grappa at Irene before tumbling back into my cloud like bed and the enjoy the sweetest of dreams.