The Hotel Regency offers a variety of unique, bespoke Florence experiences exclusively for our guests. Please contact directly the Concierge for:
- Private guided tours to the Galleria dell’Accademia, Uffizi Gallery including a special visit to the famed Corridoio Vasariano.
- A private limousine ensuring the perfect entrance for guests visiting The Mall and Prada outlet.
- An exclusive drive through the gorgeous Tuscan countryside in a special car.
- Guided visits to the Antinori winery including lunch at their Osteria di Passignano Restaurant.
- Drift along with the breeze as you view the Chianti area from your hot air balloon… followed by a champagne breakfast.
- The concierge can arrange golf and horseback riding.
- Unveil the secrets of traditional Florentine craftsmen through an exclusive Regency tour. During the visit you will discover: furnishings, artworks, tailor made fashion and accessories as well as traditional Tuscan jewelry; all MADE IN ITALY.
The tour includes a visit to the workshops of the craftsmen and a demonstration. Guests are presented with a small gift and you can feel free to personalize your guided tour to cater to your particular preferences.
It might not be entirely usual to open a guide to a city with the discussion of a medical problem but as Stendhal syndrome was inspired by a visit to Florence it is a necessary step on this occasion.
A psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly beautiful or a large amount of art is in a single place is a very real danger during any visit to the city of Florence.
Consider yourself duly warned!
The capital of Chiantishire – Florence has nestled along the banks of the River Arno since Lucius Cornelius Sulla established it in 80 BC. Florence gloriously defies all attempts to conquer it. Even the most enthusiastic culture vultures will have to concede that they will run out of energy before the ‘cradle of the Renaissance’ runs out of artifacts. And that is if you consider only the ridiculously famous ones worth visiting!
So, having established that you will not fit all of Florence into one visit or one lifetime one can only do your homework carefully and draw satisfaction directly from the rarified atmosphere.
A Brief History
Some think that Florence is the most beautiful city in the world. You might prefer another candidate but everyone agrees that it is synonymous with art, architecture and cultural heritage today. The juicy bits of the story start in Roman times when Florence was the trading and financial centre for all of medieval Europe. The florin financed industry throughout Europe – it was used by English Kings to fight their wars and Catholic Popes to build and embellish their lavish homes. It spawned new political ideology as a democracy under Cosimo de’ Medici. He was the first Medici but not the last as this family – who incidentally looked after the enormous wealth of the Catholic Church – are forever entwined with the history of culture, fortune and war that tells the story of Florence. This hotspot is considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and the drive behind the Age of Discovery. The historic centre of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site today.
Florence remains a heavyweight in the fields of modern art, fashion, culture and politics….. and travel. To inspire your next visit consider the following:
Florentine Celebrities to look out for
- Lorenzo de’ Medici or Lorenzo the Magnificent
Not the most handsome of men or particularly good at the family business of banking but he made up for it all by his love of art. In fact Lorenzo took pity on Leonardo da Vinci when he ran out of money and gave him a room in the Medici palace and bankrolled his art studies… even though he openly criticized Da Vinci’s lack of work ethic!
The Bargello Museum contains beautiful lesser-known sculptures by Michelangelo – and this former jail is a true treasure trove as it has managed to escape most of the hysteria surrounding the better known galleries such as the Uffizi.
- Leonardo da Vinci
It is probably easier to make a list of what he did NOT invent than listing his achievements! He was an astronomer, sculptor, geologist, mathematician, botanist, animal behaviourist, inventor, engineer, architect and even a musician. He was also a vegetarian who did not mind dissecting people and he suffered from both procrastination and perfectionism.
- Sandro Botticelli
Sandro started his working life as a goldsmith and he only left Florence once during his lifetime. The Birth of Venus was originally titled Venus Anadyomene and the name we are all so familiar with did not exist until the 19th century. Botticelli outlived his fame and fortune and died ‘old and useless’ according to Vasari.
- Niccolò Machiavelli
Was he the father of all gangsters? Only according to Bertrand Russell! He famously wrote ‘The Prince’ and his legacy certainly proves this premise from the book: “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”
- Galileo Galilei
Galileo wanted to become a monk he eventually fathered at least three children and never got married. He was ‘vehemently suspected of heresy’ and sentenced to house arrest at his home near Florence. During this period he produced his best work. You can visit the middle finger of Galileo’s right hand at the Museo Galileo in Florence! (It was removed together with two other fingers and a tooth during his reburial in 1737)
- Dante Alighieri
Dante met the love of his life at the tender age of nine (a recurring number in his works). He remembered her red coat and his love lasted an entire lifetime even though he only saw her one more time when he was eighteen – he passed her on the street and she spoke two words… “excuse me”. Beatrice married another and when she died at 25 Dante was crushed.
- Giovanni Cimabue
His real name was Bencivieni di Pepo, modern Italian Benvenuto di Giuseppe but a nickname stuck and later became his family name. Visit his Madonna Enthroned in the Uffizi, sadly the Crucifixion that is credited to him was terribly damaged in Santa Croce during the Florence floods of 1966. Cimabue is widely regarded as the teacher of Giotto.
The Big Five of Florence
A 13th century Florentine palace hosts the national museum today. It has previously served as the residence of the highest city official, a prison and the office of the chief of police (hence the name!) The Bargello is famous for its courtyard and its Renaissance sculptures, including works by Michelangelo, Verrocchio, Donatello, the Della Robbias, Cellini, and others.
- Galleria dell’Accademia
Famous for Michelangelo’s David commissioned by the Florentine republic to symbolize its creation it was the first Academy of Fine Art in Europe. It holds a treasure of painting and sculpture from the 15th and 16th centuries.
- Museo dell’Opera del Duomo
Created to house the sculptures removed for restoration and preservation from the niches and doors of the Duomo group. In the courtyard art can be viewed in natural light and every space within this building harbours the stuff art historians only dream of.
- Pitti Palace
The Pitti is a collection of portholes through which various styles of art can be enjoyed. The largest museum in Florence it also boasts the beautiful 16th century Boboli Gardens filled with sculpture by artists such as Michelangelo. Visit the 14 rooms of the Royal Apartments (the Medici idea of a guesthouse) and more than 500 Renaissance artworks in the Palatine Gallery. The Gallery of Modern Arts, the Silver Museum, the Costume Museum and the Porcelain Museum complete the ensemble.
- Uffizi Gallery
Imagine the very best of Italian paintings all in one place. Courtesy of the last of the Medicis this gallery boasts a unique problem… It literally has too many masterpieces to display! Works are displayed in chronological order and highlights include works by Botticelli, Titian and Chagall. Our insider tip – buy your tickets in advance!
Crazy for Cuisine
If you are a traditionalist you will choose a Chianti Classico but you might be tempted to try one of the more modern Supertuscan blends.
Florentine food is traditionally based on a peasant diet in which meat features extensively. Bistecca alla Fiorentina features at least 1200 grams of prime T-bone steak of Chianina cooked over hot charcoal and served rare.
Eat Gelato at every opportunity! No one does it better than Florence and you can always have your favourite scoop whilst watching daily life meander by in one of Florence’s many glorious Piazzas.
Pick of the Piazzas
Piazza della Signoria has an abundance of art and history. The Medici family called it home, Bartolomeo Ammanati’s Fountain of Neptune marks the terminus of a functioning Roman aqueduct and a circular marble plaque marks the very spot where the monk Savonarola was hung before being burnt at the stake in 1498.
The Duomo of Florence and the Baptistery decorate their own piazza gloriously. Michelangelo called these buildings the Gates of Paradise!
Fit in Florence
Visit the spirit of Brunelleschi and negotiate the maze of steps running up claustrophobic passages to the Dome of the Santa Maria del Fiore Duomo.
Favour Giotto and view Florence from the top of the bell tower.
Work your own magic as you trek to the top of the Piazzale Michelangelo in the hills above the Oltrarno for the postcard view of the city.
It is possible to be completely alone amidst a buzzing crowd along the Ponte Vecchio bridge. The Medicis used Vasari’s elevated corridor on the bridge to avoid commoners and if you are at all romantic you might consider the fact that 600 years of thoughts flow with the River Arno underneath the bridge. You should also consider yourself lucky – in 1944 the retreating Germans were convinced by consulate Charle Steinhauslin to save the bridge and blow something else up instead!
At Santa Croce the Porte Sante Cemetery is the last resting place of many Renaissance celebrities can be found. Here you might ponder the transitory nature of our world, the great minds that have carried us along the corridors of history to today and our own place in this world. The medieval back streets of this area offer the perfect location if you feel like getting a little lost.
Take a stroll though the leather markets and the Mercato Centrale. The perfect answer if you are looking for souvenirs or simply a fabulous picnic. Other superb serious shopping streets include the Via Tornabuoni, the Via del Parione, and the Via Maggio. Take it all to another level and find Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Enrico Coveri, Emilio Pucci, Patrizia Pepe, Ermanno Scervino, Prada, Roberto Cavalli, Chanel, Armani and Bulgari at your service!
- Italian was invented in Florence when Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, and Boccaccio insisted on using the vernacular instead of Latin in all their work.
- In the late 16th century Florence produced Dafne by Jacopo Peri – the first ever Opera!
- If it wasn’t for Florence our world might be quite different today. After all, Henry the Navigator and the pioneers from Portugal who found the routes around Africa to India and the Far East where all financed by Florentine bankers. ALSO – Paulo del Pozzo Toscanelli (a student of Brunelleschi) drew the map that sold the Columbus enterprise to the Spanish Monarchs.
- The study of optics, ballistics, astronomy, anatomy, and political science were all inspired by the Florentine masters!
- Florence is the home of Italian fashion with soirées held by Giovanni Battista Giorgini in the early 50’s.
- The film was famously featured in Hannibal, A Room with a View and Tea with Mussolini, Portrait of a Lady