Oltrarno Splendid is on the southerly banks of the River Arno in everyone’s favourite Renaissance stronghold.
Florence’s Peretola Airport is half an hour away by car. Hotel transfers cost €45 each way for two passengers. Landing at Pisa is also a possibility, but the drive’s a little longer; transfers for the 60-minute trip cost €155 each way.
The city’s Santa Maria Novella train station is a kilometre away from the hotel; the drive should take 10 minutes. From here, high-speed rail services link up Florence with other cities all across Italy, including Milan, Rome and Naples. The shiny new Frecciarossa trains are fastest (italiarail.com). One-way transfers to the hotel cost €40.
You’ll be a short stroll across the river to the big Florentine hitters, but if you have travelled by road there’s a car park a 10-minute walk away; prices start at €25 a day.
Worth getting out of bed for
Track down Betty or Matteo for top tips on Florence before you head out; their passion matches their knowledge of their beloved city, and they’ll impart insider advice such as where to source the best lighting (spoiler alert: it’s Il Bronzetto). You may be able to see it from your bath tub, but Florence’s Duomo is arguably the finest piece of architecture of the past 600 years, so it’s definitely worth getting up to admire that marble closely. Everyone else may be clambering onto the Ponte Vecchio, but head to Ponte Santa Trinita instead, where there’ll be fewer tourists and a view of the jeweller-packed bridge in all its glory. There’s an antiques market in the neighbourhood on the second Sunday of every month, on Piazza Santo Spirito. The Renaissance is alive and well in Florence, nowhere more so than in the chambers of the Palazzo Vecchio, which is also home to Roman ruins and a mediaeval fortress. Its 54-metre Hall of the Five Hundred has all the panelled ceilings, frescoes, sculptures and gilded walls to make you realise what overachievers the Medici were.
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Head to SottArno at Oltrarno Splendid’s sister property for an Italian take on elevenses, with better coffee; the owner has collected over a hundred menus from London, Paris and New York to hang on the walls. Those seeking a more old-fashioned slice of la dolce vita should track down Alla Vecchia Bettola on Viale Vasco Pratolini, a classic osteria where you’ll cram in alongside locals and hanging cured hams for some amazing (all locally sourced) antipasti. Carnivores should head straight for the sizzling steak at Regina Bistecca, making time for a Negroni (or three) at its American bar first.
Manifattura on Piazza di San Pancrazio only uses Italian spirits in its cocktails, which can only be a good thing – especially when the backdrop is so decadently deco.