For many years, art lovers descended upon Tuscany - it was after all, the birthplace of the Renaissance, and thus Renaissance art. Tuscany played home to the Florentine School, whose list of ex-students reads like a whose who of art greats: Brunelleschi, Donatello, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Lippi, Masolino, and Masaccio (and that's all before we've touched on the three other prominent art schools in the region - the Seinese School, the Pisan School and the Lucchese School). However, nowadays, Tuscany calls tourists and vacationers for a myriad of other reasons - art, food, culture, wine, shopping. Between it's two major hubs - Florence and Siena - Tuscany really is a truly incredible Italian spot.
Located in southern Tuscany, Monteverdi is the kind of idyllic escape you dream about. The three restored villas and twelve room luxury boutique hotel sit exquisitely in the Tuscan countryside. Imperative to the restoration of the villas and the hotel itself was maintaining the heritage and 900 year history of the area, while bringing new and modern luxuries to guests that visited the region. Between breathtaking views, luxury accomodation and culinary delights offered at Monteverdi restaurants and bars, you would be hard pressed to find somewhere just as beautiful.
Hotel Villa Cora
Located just outside of the historical centre of Florence, Hotel Villa Cora is the perfect meeting of classicism and modern luxury. What was once a residence of Baron Oppenheim, became a hotel in 1960. This spectacular building underwent a massive restoration in 2007, reopening in 2010 to great acclaim. Known for hosting royalty from around the globe, Hotel Villa Cora is best reserved for those very special occasions - honeymoons, anniversaries... winning the lottery.
Situated just outside the city centre of Florence, Riva Lofts are the cool, calm, collected accomodation you had been looking for all along. Designed by architect Claudio Nardi, there seems an express goal to give those staying at Riva the ultimate in a luxurious, but local experience. Alice Nardi, owner and daughter of the architect, will point you in the direction of where to eat, where to shop and where to get your hair cut (should you need it).
Alla Vecchia Bettola
Alla Vecchia Bettola is something of an institution in Florence. Located within walking distance of the cities major monuments, visit this quaint restaurant for the very best in Tuscan wine and produce. Without prior knowledge, you may never stumble upon Alla Vecchia Bettola - it is truly a locals spot. However, for whatever reason you find yourself here - an evening of romance, or with a group of friends - sit back, drink Chianti and enjoy the relaxed ambience of this truly Florentine experience.
Il Santo Bevitore
If it was reasonable to eat at once location for the entirety of a holiday, Il Santo Bevitore (or one its sister locations, S.Forno or Il Santino) might just be it. Boisterous in its surrounds, hearty in its culinary offering and the setting - a perfect Italian dining experience.
La Bottega del Buon Café
A few words of wisdom... savour every moment of this Michelin-starred dining experience. Situated near the River Arno, La Bottega del Buon Cafe is for the special occasions. For balmy evenings, book an al fresco table and enjoy the farm-to-table menu on offer. Aside from the fish, all produce comes from the restaurants country farm. Said farm is located on the most astoundingly beautiful estate located outside of Florence - the estate also playing home to the equally fabulous Borgo Santo Pietro hotel.
Le Volpi E L'Uva
So you've come to Tuscany for the art, but you are staying for the wine. Find yourself a spot in this intimate bar and delight in wines from local producers. The experience is made even more pleasant via the lovely, wine-aficionados behind the bar itself. Be guided on what to order and no doubt, you will be in for a long night of wine tasting!
La Terrazza, Continentale Hotel
Open to guests and non-guests, La Terrazza is the rooftop bar at the Continentale Hotel. With views of beautiful Florence, grab a Solera Negroni and let the sunset over another beautiful day in Tuscany.
You would of course be mad not to visit Leaning Tower of Pisa, Florence Cathedral, Uffizi Gallery and Piazza del Campo, amongst other Tuscan highlights, however for a more local experience, we recommend seeking out the following:
The densely wooded hill area of Chianti is home to wine towns Radda, Castellina, and Greve. For that perfect snap, be sure to also visit picture-perfect village Volpaia. This is some of Tuscany's finest wine region and the spot to see a more rugged side of Tuscany.
It is imperative that you make time to visit Museo Gucci - the wondrous museum dedicated to the Florence founded fashion house. Between the exhibitions itself, the Icon Store, the Bookstore and the restaurant, for fashion fiends this is easily a full day out! Be seduced by the luxury that is Gucci right where it all began.
It would be unfounded to not mention the most beautiful vintage interiors store, amblé. This space is all about taking a moment out away from the hustle and bustle of the streets of Florence. Sip tea, while taking in the beautiful chairs, tables, porcelain cups for sale in this hidden jem!