By Alexandra Cheney
This story originally appeared in the May/June 2018 issue of Elite Traveler.
During World War II, the Germans bombed every bridge in the Tuscan capital except one: the Ponte Vecchio, which Hitler spared, alleging it too beautiful to destroy. Home to over 600 years of exceptional artistic activity, Florence’s city center was deemed a Unesco World Heritage site in 1982, with the annotation that “the greatest concentration of universally renowned works of art in the world is found here.” The home of both Leonardo da Vinci and Carlo Collodi—the creator of Pinocchio, the wooden boy who is unable to tell a lie without snout consequences—Florence is indeed a multifaceted artistic city.
Set in the northern part of Italy, its landlocked locale forced early inhabitants to create a hearty cuisine that could be repurposed or reheated for several days, a prevalent propensity still found in Tuscan dishes. From Michelin-starred restaurants to dominant fashion houses, all have found a home in the old palaces and architecturally brilliant buildings.
With the Arno River halving the city, crisscrossing the winding streets of San Niccolò to the old market of San Lorenzo has become a pastime for locals and tourists alike. While Florence’s long summer evenings are lovely, it’s best to avoid peak season and opt for spring or early fall, when the city is still bustling, but the crowds are manageable.