Did you say History? Did you say beauty? Did you say luxury? Did you say shopping? A pleasant stroll in the pedestrian Via Tornabuoni will make you taste the quintessence of Florence in Tuscany and discover an historical Palace where you can rent a superb apartment.
Coming from the “oltrarno”, cross the Arno River on the Santa Trinita Bridge and stop at each end to admire at its four corners the statues representing the four seasons. Keep walking straight while admiring on your right the huge medieval mass of Palazzo Spini Ferroni, maybe enter the Palace to discover (and shop!) the Ferragamo boutiques as well as the Salvatore Ferragamo shoe museum. Cross the street on Piazza Santa Trinita and pay a short visit to the Santa Trinita church where you can admire Domenico Ghirlandaio’s rendering of scenes from the life of Saint Francis in the Sassetti chapel … and a few other masterpieces. Leave some pennies for the upkeep of the church (and the salvation of your soul) and walk on to Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni which you will recognize by its beautifully ornamented entrance and windows … have a peep inside the old courtyard.
Keep walking on, and continue shopping, but be prepared to have your wallet emptied and your credit card being paid lots of respects by the Versace, Yves Saint Laurent, Prada, Gucci, Chanel, Armani, Max Mara, Tods, Bulgari … shops as you go along the way. All the great Italian fashion designers are there! To feel better, just think that quality pays and lasts a long time! Admire the many Palaces along the road until you find on the right the huge and beautiful Palazzo Strozzi built in the 1460’s by a very rich banker who, returning to Florence after having being exiled, wanted to squash his enemies both physically and morally! At Palazzo Strozzi you will always find a very well organized unique art exhibit (currently “Pontormo e Rosso Fiorentino”): pop in and let yourself be tempted by a bit of culture.
But enough of history and culture, you are at the crossing between Via Tornabuoni and Via della Spada. Close to the Roberto Cavalli boutique, there is a coffee shop (Giacosa), go in and ask for a Cappuccino or a Caffé macchiato …: they are the best in Florence , no frills, no pastries, but a small masterpiece of flavour and taste: the aromas of coffee, milk and chocolate blend into a fluffy revigorating liquid! Get back on the pedestrian Via Tornabuoni for the last few steps: you will find on your right a small shop: Procacci that sells small brioche buns filled with truffle paste … try one! It’s good taste to say that they are not as delicious as they were in the 1920’s … but what to do?
I leave the best for the end: keep strolling on Via Tornabuoni and on the left, just after the famous jeweler Pomellato you are going to find the XVIth century pietra serena stone Larderel Palace (built by the same architect that, Giovanni Antonio Dosio, who also built the Bartolini Salimbeni Palace at the beginning of this short article). You can rent a beautiful apartment, with a large terrace, in this Palace in the heart of Florence, the main art city in Tuscany, and you will feel like a true Florentine! For this, you can easily inquire at Hotel Villa le Barone (firstname.lastname@example.org ) the elegant boutique hotel in Panzano in Chianti, in Tuscany !