Luxury holidays in Florence

Notching up more past glories than the average continent, Tuscany’s capital still leads from the front: between its fairy-tale squares, centuries-old churches and sprawling palaces run streets alive with energy, style and irresistible shopping. It’s luxury goods galore on Via Tornabuoni, artisan jewellers on the mediaeval Ponte Vecchio and delectable deli fare everywhere – the riches on offer are enough to get the most ardent anti-capitalists scrabbling for the plastic. The city centre is architecturally breathtaking, and compact enough to stroll in an afternoon; follow heart-stirring glimpses of the gingerbread-hued Duomo and its frosting-pale Campanile down narrow streets, and eat Italian soul food in a simple trattoria.

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When to go

Florence is packed with tourists throughout the summer, when it’s also very humid; go in early spring or autumn if you can.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    Florence airport ( is a 20-minute drive from the city centre; an official taxi into town should cost no more than €30 max. You can also fly into Pisa airport, from where a direct train takes just shy of an hour and costs around €6 (
  • Trains

    The main station (Firenze SMN) is behind Piazza Santa Maria Novella, with high-speed connections to other cities in Italy and Europe.
  • Automobiles

    Having a car in Florence can be a hindrance – in fact, it’s next to pointless. Driving through the restricted central zone (ZTL) can result in hefty fines. If booking a hire car, it's essential to send the vehicle details to the hotel (and give reception an estimated arrival time) so they can arrange a temporary permit for you. However, it's much more hassle-free to go on foot in the city and save driving for the surrounding Tuscan countryside, where a vehicle is essential.
  • Taxis

    You can’t hail a cab on the street; go to a designated fermata di taxi. The major ones are manned 24/7; most operate 7am–1am. Socota is one of the biggest cab firms (+39 055 4242;

Villa Cora

Villa Cora

In the 1870s, Baron Oppenheim built Villa Cora, close to Florence's city centre, for his wife. He certainly put his heart into it: armies of statues, frescoes and rose motifs show a love for embellishment equal to that for his spouse. He may have tried to burn the villa down later, when he thought his spouse had been unfaithful, but it's still a lovely gesture… Lavish canopied beds beckon for drama-seeking twosomes and the hotel also has the only outdoor heated pool in Florence, and manicured gardens for arm-in-arm strolling.