Caroline’s five Florence favorites

Why Florence?
Because I finally got there! Although I had often dreamt of visiting this incredible city filled with art and beauty, I’d never been. And, I loved everything, from its architecture to its outdoor galleries, its cathedral to its museums, the bridges and riverbanks, the Florentine people, the surrounding Tuscan region and the divine food. I especially loved wandering the Florence streets at night when it was finally emptied of tourists. What a magical place, I adored it. There’s nothing cultural here and I haven’t included any of the major sites that must be visited, as they’re already in all the good city guides.

1- A hotel: The Grand Hôtel Minerva, Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, 16, Firenze.
I found this spot on the internet just by pure chance. However, it’s sat in an ideal location in the center of the city, yet just far enough from all the main hustle and bustle. The setting is very relaxing with superb rooms and fantastic views from all the windows. Even better is the rooftop swimming pool which means you can indulge in a sunset swim, complete with panoramic views of the city.

2 - A restaurant: The 13 Gobbi Trattoria, Via del Porcellana 9/r.
One of my Italian friends who happens to live in Florence passed on this address and it’s a gem. Think of it as the typical trattoria you’d see in an old Italian film. Everything’s perfect, from the atmosphere, to the meat, pasta and wine.

3 - An antique store: Maurizio and Salici, Via Santo Spirito 32/r.
While wandering around the streets of Florence I was drawn to this antique storefront. Go inside and you’ll step into a surrealist, theatrical setting that’s a bit like an old curiosity shop filled with original finds. The selection of goods is broad, but also focused, and the huge stack of goods you see inside makes poetic sense.

4 - A bar: Move On, Piazza San Giovanni, 1/r.
This record bar is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail opposite the Duomo and listen to some good Florentine music. Upstairs, I bought some amazing old soul and rock ‘n roll vinyl records.

5 - A dispensary: Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, Via della Scala, 16, Firenze
Although this original Santa Maria Novella boutique dates back 400 years, it couldn’t be more on trend. Across the store’s many shelves you’ll find creams, perfumes, infusions and candles all inspired by traditional herbal medicine. The house’s eaux de Cologne have been hugely popular for many a century. I bought a skin-protecting oil dubbed the ‘celebration of plants’ that can be used summer and winter alike to hydrate the body. There’s nothing better when you spend as much time in planes as I do.