This post was written in collaboration with a well-traveled friend of Au Courant.
Florence is easily one of Italy's most rich cultural centers, both historically and agriculturally. As the region's most populous city, there is no shortage of visual, cultural, gastronomic and architectural interest for natives and tourists alike. Our friend recently visited this vibrant metropolis and shared some highlights from her time in Tuscany's capital city and its surrounding rural countryside.
Marchesi Antinori Winery
The stunning new headquarters of the Antinori Vineyards is only a 30 minute drive from Florence. You know you have arrived when you see a rusty curve cut into the hillside that resembles the wing of a spaceship. This remarkable building – which includes the winery, a museum as well as the corporate headquarters of Antinori – is built into the side of a hill. Our friend has visited vineyards and wineries all over Europe and the United States, and nothing can compare this exciting facility. Proprietor Marchesi Piero Antinori and his three daughters, who run the business, have created a place to continue the creation of their magnificent wines, for now and far into the future.
Take a guided tour of the winery and then have a delightful lunch at their rooftop restaurant, Rinuccio 1180, overlooking the hillsides, covered with olive groves. Here you will find good food, lovely service and the choice of some of the best of the Antinori wines.
Buon Appetito and Cin Cin!
The newly-renovated Hotel Lungarno on the Borgo San Jacopo is an almost hidden gem in the heart of Florence. If you are walking along the Arno on the Lungarno Corsini, toward the Ponte Vecchio, you would scarcely notice it, as it is tucked between the older traditional buildings on the opposite side of the river. This newly-refurbished jewel, part of the Ferragamo collection of hotels, is an oasis of cool colors and provides a feeling of serenity. The view of the river from your room is spectacular. Watching the one-man rowing sculls, as they glide down the Arno is the world's best soporific.
There is also a wonderful art collection of more than 400 pieces displayed in different parts of the hotel. The Michelin-starred restaurant, the Borgo San Jacopo, provides very creative cuisine, a tasting menu and wonderfully attentive service.
The hotel is just steps from the Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery, the Palazzo Vecchio and the Piazza della Signoria. And let's not forget, everyone's favorite shopping street, the Via de Tornabuoni. Our best find recently was Angela Caputi Bijoux. Her jewelry is a combination of art and fashion. There are drawers of treasures are throughout the store, which is a trove of wonderful, wearable art.