Why the Italian gem should be your next city break

The Savoy

Enjoy men’s fashion and Renaissance culture without the summer crowds. Nicky Swallow suggests what to see and do on a winter city break in Florence. 

Go now

Florence empties out after the Christmas and New Year holidays, making this one of the best periods to visit. In January, biannual menswear trade fair Pitti Uomo (pittimmagine.com) transforms the city’s streets into a catwalk. Direct flights from the UK with Vueling (vueling.com) and BA (ba.com).    

Stay here

Glowing from a recent revamp, the Savoy (number 1 on the map above) has a super-central location and stylish yet homely rooms (from £353 without breakfast). For something more affordable, head south of the river to lovely Piazza Santo Spirito where Palazzo Guadagni (2) offers whispers of A Room with a View and a glorious wraparound loggia. Doubles from £70, including breakfast. 

The Savoy


Walk here

Start on the steps of Florence’s vast Duomo (3) before heading south down pedestrianised Via dei Calzaiuoli, window shopping en route. Historic Piazza della Signoria (4) is where Girolamo Savonarola famously lit his Bonfire of the Vanities in 1497. From here wander over the Ponte Vecchio (5) before bearing right to explore the boho-chic neighbourhood of Santo Spirito (6).  

See this

The Bargello Museum (7) (bargellomusei.beniculturali.it), once a prison but today home to a magnificent collection of sculpture by the likes of Michelangelo, Benvenuto Cellini, Giambologna and Donatello.

The Bargello Museum


Try this

To get a feel for the layout of the city, climb the 414 narrow steps of the Duomo’s bell tower (3). Views from the top stretch for miles (ilgrandemuseodelduomo.it). 

Shop here

Occupying the vaulted ex-stables of a Renaissance palazzo near Santa Croce, Maison de Parfum Aquaflor (8) (acquaflorfirenze.com) sells divine soaps, skin creams, room fragrances, eau de colognes and perfumes, all made on the premises. 

Drink here

Housed in 13th-century, revamped Palazzo Concini, Locale (9) (localefirenze.it) is one of Florence’s hottest – and classiest – cocktail spots and a favourite with the Florence smart set. Craft cocktails (around €20/£18 including nibbles) include a knockout negroni.   

Cool cocktails at Locale

Eat here

Regina Bistecca (10) (reginabistecca.com) showcases Florence’s signature dish, the bistecca alla Fiorentina, served very rare and best accompanied by white cannellini beans and rosemary-spiked roast potatoes. Expect to pay €40 per head plus wine. 

Regina Bistecca

Off the map

Founded by the Etruscans, the hilltop village of Fiesole lies some three miles (5km) north of the centre (bus no 7 from the train station). It is a pleasant, cool escape from the crowds with a Roman amphitheatre and archaeological museum (combined ticket €12, museidifiesole.it), some quaint shops, a pretty piazza with cafés for coffee or lunch, and fabulous views.  

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