Florence - Hmmm ....

Arguably the centre of civilization, 90 minutes’ drive from La Collina del Sole,  one of the most  beautiful Villa Rentals in Tuscany. So ... we compilled a list of fun things to do to whet your appetite even though you might have just begun to consider Vilas for rent in Tuscany   or Holiday Villas in Lucca . Our recommendations really depend on what you arelooking for:

Fun shopping with a little bit of culture ?  - The market in San Lorenzo is fun, has great silk scarves, leather jackets, leather bags, Florentine printed paper goods, Venetian carnival marks, gloves, and MANY other fun things, with low mark ups,  it also happens to be very close to the PHENOMENAL Michael Angelo’s marble statues of Night and Day, Dawn and Dusk which adorn the Medici tombs in the mausoleum of the Basilicca di San Lorenzo. There is one special sculpture of Lorenzo di Medici whose is in a pensive sitting position, this sculpture has the illusion of following you wherever you go in the room.  The larger Capella dei Principi houses the most amazing work of marble inlay where intricate designs of fruit and flowers shaped of marble slices in different colours defy belief.

Fashion ? well Florence is THE SEAT of Ferragamo who also own hotels in Florence in case you prefer to "Hotel it" rather than Rent a Villa in Tuscany  the Ferragamo HQ  is in the extensive Palazzo Spini Feroni in Via dei Tornabuoni so an excursion to this beautiful  store is a must,  you will find pictures of Salvatore Ferragamo fitting Audrey Hepburn’s shoes, among other memorabilia. On Via Tornabuoni  you also find  large Versace, Prada, Pucci, Cavalli, Gucci and Armani stores.

Romance ? Ponte Vecchio a medieval bridge complete with many shops along both sides. Is nearby and is well known for its silver with great views up and down the Arno.

Adventure ? Just spend time walking the little streets, alleyways and roads I can guarantee you will discover  vintage clothing shops,  artisanal workshops. Random water troughs as fountains ... now if all this walking is making you hungry then eat in the Trattoria 4 Leoni ,  and finish off with gelato at The BEST gelato place of all time  the Gelateria dei Neri, on Via Dei Neri,  close to the Basilica of Santa Croce In short Florence needs no introduction, it is beautiful, timeless, serene, interesting and above all inspiring city.  A few extra highlights are Piazza della Signoria [where the duel scene of “Room with a view” is filmed], the Baptistery, famous for its bronze doors by Ghiberti, alongside the Duomo. There is a fun Ferragamo Hotel called “Gallery Hotel Arts” telephone 055 27263 it is almost at the beginning of the Ponte Vecchio with a lovely terrace bar where you can sip cocktails and see Florence from the rooftops. Off the beaten track there is the Church of San Miniato a Romanesque church with the most beautiful Mosaic at the back.

Museum hunting ? Florence has many well know sites, the Uffizi Museum for example is amazing but you must book and arrive ON TIME for your slot otherwise it is gone, there is another Museum Museo dell'Opera del Duomo which houses monuments of the Duomo and works which Michelangelo’s progression as an artist, it is located behind the Duomo, and is one of our favorite museums, then there is the museum of the Academia where the original statue of the David is housed and the beautiful marble “prisoners”.  There are SO many beautiful sites in Florence if you are up to it stay there into the evening and watch the Arno you will feel like Helena Bonham Carter in “Room with a View”. If you are driving rather than going by train, a trip to Fiesole and in particular the Hotel Villa San Michelle - a converted convent designed by Michel Angelo is a “must” especially near sunset on a hot day, have a Belllini Cocktail at the bar, but do remember they expect smart attire.

Further South another highlight is SIENA– World famous for its “Palio” Siena  is a very interesting city, the main attraction there is the fan shaped piazza which is inclined. The Palio is held in this Piazza that riders which race each other on behalf of the different main families of the town battle it out for supremacy in a yearly race that lasts but a few minutes, and has claimed several lives, a very passionate spectacle, full of pomp, bravado and fearsome riding. The Cathedral in the main square is also worth a visit.

Then there is Arezzo is one of the gold producing centers of Italy, sadly all the work is done behind closed doors, or by house wives who work as outworkers for the many factories of gold chain, and gold findings. One Beautiful point of interest is the Piazza Grande. This Piazza and surrounding buildings are very picturesque; this town is full of heraldry. Harking back to the days when Italy was a conglomeration of many small and proud principalities.

Hope you enjoy this small list and take time to live the breathtaking experience of meetign Italy on its own turf !