"Nothing is permanent, but the beauty of antiquity remains in Florence."
Each region of Italy has its own capital, and Florence happens to be Tuscany’s. This city is well-known for its food and wine, and no one can leave unless they have been well fed numerous times throughout their visit. The food and wine might be extraordinary, but nothing compares to the art and architecture that has been in place in the city since the Renaissance.
The museums are filled with pieces by Botticelli, Michelangelo, and other famous artists, the churches have been decorated with frescoes, and the basilicas are complete with marble. Fashion is another industry in Florence, and some of the most famous designers have boutiques there.
WHERE TO STAY
Villa San Michele
Villa San Michele must be one of the most romantic places in the world. This former monastery, nestled on a hilltop surrounded by trees and terraced gardens, overlooks the city of Florence
The garden at Villa San Michele lies on a plateau about 300 metres above the sea with a view across the Bay of Naples and the Sorrentine Peninsula with the volcano Mount Vesuvius in the distance. When the weather is clear the island of Ischia can be detected to the north. The garden is not large but is rich in content and variety in terms of both its levels and colours.
The bedrooms and suites are simple, peaceful and elegant while the Renaissance splendor of Florence is a mere 10 minutes away by car. Situated 50 miles from Pisa International Airport and 6 miles from Florence Peretola Domestic Airport. Complimentary shuttle service provided to and from Florence city center. 46 guestrooms including 21 double rooms, 19 junior suites and 6 suites. 82-feet heated pool with spectacular views of Florence is open late Spring to early Autumn.
Villa San Michele is not a residence in the ordinary sense of the word. It is rather the bearer of Axel Munthe’s thoughts and feelings about beauty and the great questions of life, but at the same time it is open for personal interpretation. The architecture is there to emphasise the magnificence of the landscape whilst also creating a romantic-symbolic spirit and a worthy framework for the works of art. In this respect the park also plays an important role. Typical elements include the statues overgrown with ivy and the mossy marble pieces scattered around the garden.
WHAT TO DO
Florence, capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, is home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture. One of its most iconic sights is the Duomo, a cathedral with a terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto.
The Galleria dell’Accademiadisplays Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture.
The Uffizi Gallery exhibits Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and da Vinci’s “Annunciation.”
WHERE TO EAT
Loggia Terrace Restaurant
Located at the Villa San Michele hotel, The Loggia Terrace Restaurant provides a unique dining venue overlooking Florence and the Arno Valley.
WHERE TO SHOP
Needless to say, Italy is one of the world’s most famous fashion capitals
- SALDI is the word you need to know. You’ll see it everywhere, so you’ll learn it quickly. It means “sales,” so it’s plastered in every shop window along with whatever percentage discount they’re currently offering.
- The specific dates for each sales period change each year, and they vary by region, so you may find the sales already in full swing in Milan but a few days away in Rome.
- Everyone puts inventory on sale – and I mean everyone, including those high-end designers. The boutiques, however, sometimes have invitation-only sales for their repeat customers first, with the leftovers made available to the masses afterward.
- Typically, the prices continue to drop during the sales period, so some shoppers will hold out until the bitter end to get the best deal. The trade-off, however, is that the selection dwindles, too. You might find a killer deal on a pair of shoes, for instance, but only find it comes in one size that’s way too big for you.
- These sales aren’t designed for tourists – this is when many Italians do their big-ticket shopping for the year.
- People have been known to get (ahem) aggressive during these sales peiods, especially when a shop is down to the last of something. If you dive into the fray, you may be digging through piles of discounted clothing looking for a treasure. This is seriousshopping we’re talking about here, nothing prim or proper about it.
Many tourists will stay away from Italy in January simply because the weather isn’t conducive to the picture they have of an ideal Italian vacation. If you’re a shopaholic, however, January may be one of the best times to go – it’s winter sales season.
The winter sales period starts in January, usually near the beginning of the month, and lasts through mid-February or until inventory is gone.
The summer sales period in Italy also coincides with one of the most popular months for tourism – July. The first time I visited Italy it was July, and I had no idea what a rare treat all those sales were. If I had known, I might have come home with an extra suitcase.
The summer sales begin in July, usually near the start of the month, and last through about mid-August or until inventory is gone.
If you’re addicted to luxury designer brands, waste no time and head straight to The Mall. Its like, he holy grail of luxury designer shopping. Like Woodbury Commons in New York and La Valle Village in Paris, The Mall is a luxury outlet with fantastic prices, in the heart of the Tuscan countryside. It’s the ideal destination for those who love fashion, beauty and style. Customers can stroll through stores dedicated to the top ranges by exclusive designers, with high fashion items for men, women, and children, footwear, accessories, jewellery, beauty, make up, fragrances, and lifestyle. In the very heart of Italy, close to all of Tuscany’s major cities, a visit to The Mall, the outlet for important brands will be an unforgettable experience.The world’s most exclusive brands in a charming setting, make it your annual pilgrimage.
An exclusive daily service, including Sundays and holidays, connects the centre of Florence to The Mall outlet centre and viceversa. Visitors can be picked up from city centre hotels.
Florence > The Mall: 09.00 / 11.00 / 14.00
The Mall > Florence: 13.00 / 16.00 / 19.00
Pick up: Passengers can be picked up directly at their hotels if staying in the city centre and otherwise, from any point in the centre of the city.
Price: 35 euros per person, return.
Shuttle services must be booked beforehand speak to your Hotel Concierge or contact the Information Centre on +39 055 8657775.
Daily services connect the centre of Florence to The Mall outlet centre and viceversa.
Departure: BUSITALIA/SITA bus station – Via Santa Caterina da Siena 17, Florence (near the central railway station).
Price: single ticket: € 7.00, return ticket: € 13.00.
Bus Timetable from September until May
Timetable from Florence to The Mall (Mon-Sun and holidays)
08:50 | 09:10 | 09:30 | 10:00 | 10:30 | 11:00 | 11:30 | 12:00 | 13:00 | 13:30 | 14:00 | 14:30 | 15:00 | 15:30 | 16:00 | 17:00 | 18:00
Timetable from The Mall to Florence (Mon-Sun and holidays)
09:45 | 10:50 | 12:30 | 13:00 | 13:30 | 14:00 | 14:30 | 15:00 | 15:30 | 16:00 | 16:30 | 17:00 | 17:30 | 18:00 | 18:30 | 19:00 | 19:20
The Gucci Caffè restaurant offers all diners a journey into Italian and international cuisine, destined to satisfy even the most discerning palates. Every day, the Chef creates a special menu, selecting the best local ingredients to build a menu of the highest level. The excellence of Italian and Tuscan cuisine meets with international tastes and flavours to offer guests a genuine gastronomic experience to remember.
Every day, diners can enjoy the aromas of a wealth of patisserie products, panini, salads, and delicious ice creams. At lunch, the ingredients selected by the Chef become unique, delicious dishes and delights to satisfy and meet the demands of all tastes and all customer needs.
Attention to detail, professional services and researched gastronomic delights, are the exclusive hallmark of the style and philosophy of the Gucci Caffè restaurant.
Other Factory Outlets
In addition to The Mall you will also find several factory outlets in Tuscany for famous fashion designers. These outlets are always located in industrial areas not served by public transportation so you’ll need your own transportation to get there. Factory outlet for some of my favourite brands:
Dolce e Gabbana
Locality Santa Maria Maddalena Pian dell’Isola, Incisa in Val D’Arno (Florence). Monday to Sunday from 10am to 7.30pm. Tel. 055 833 1300
This is the factory outlet of the famous Italian fashion designers Dolce and Gabbana. It sells underwear, clothing and accessories. We recommend you call before going to verify opening times. The easiest way to get here is to drive there or to take a taxi from The Mall, which is less than 4 km away. Buses do pass near by but making the schedules work out from wherever you are take a lot of planning. So get to The Mall and then take a taxi… or drive there.
Via Europa 8, Leccio – Reggello (Florence). Monday to Sunday from 10am to 7.30pm
Located right next to The Mall outlet center but not within, this factory outlet sells only Fendi products from the past collection. Prices are reduced about 50% from prices in regular stores.
Via Europa 8, Leccio – Reggello (Florence). Monday to Friday from 10.30am to 7.30pm, Saturday from 9.30am to 7.30pm, Sunday and Holidays from 10.30am to 6.30pm.
It’s certainly one of the most famous and visited factory outlets in Tuscany. It sells only clothing, bags and accessories by Prada and its other labels such as Miu Miu. As soon as you walk in, you’re given a number – it will be how your purchases will be prepared for you. The outlet moved to be right next to The Mall so there is no longer any need to head out to a location in the middle of nowhere, just head to The Mall with one of the buses listed above to get there! It can be hard to find even when driving, but if you get lost, stop and ask for help, the locals are used to giving directions. Otherwise, to get there by train from Florence SMN, get off in Rignano sull’Arno and from there take a taxi. If there are other people at the train station heading in the same direction, by all means share the taxi and the fare (from 12 to 15 euros) :). Get the taxi phone number to call when you’re done or, if you forget, ask the doorman politely if he can call the taxi for you to get back to Rignano’s train station.
via Volturno 3, Sesto Fiorentino – Osmannoro (Florence). Monday to Saturday from 10am to 7pm.
Located right outside of Florence near IKEA in Osmannoro and sells only clothing with the Roberto Cavalli label from past collections. If you like the Cavalli style, then definitely head to this store to search for good deals. Both the ATAF Florence city bus lines 29 and 30 go by the area, the 29 gets you closer to the outlet space. Take both from the SMN train station.
It takes no time to fall in love in Florence!