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A Room With A View – Florence.
E.M. Forster’s A Room With A View opens with a very proper English young lady, Miss Lucy Honeychurch, and her priggish cousin and chaperone, Miss Charlotte Bartlett making a trip to Florence. On arrival at their pensione they discover that their room doesn’t have a view of the beautiful River Arno and so the narrative unfolds. I must admit that I was channelling Miss Honeychurch as I arrived at the historic luxury boutique hotel Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni n.1. Would I have a room with a view?
Situated just a stone’s throw from the tourist Holy Trinity of the Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery and Duomo, the hotel sits elegantly on Via Tornabuoni – the location for luxury brand shopping in the city. Just imagine a medieval Bond St!
Now owned and managed by the Rusconi Clerici family, the tower dates back to the 1300s when the occupants were the notorious moneylenders the Gianfigliazzi family – mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy. This was the period in Florentine history when the rival Guelfi and Ghibellini clans struggled with each other for control of this most precious of cities.
After coming in the discrete entrance you can feel the history embedded in the interiors. The rooms are totally bespoke, each having their own character – reflecting classical Tuscan history through a Renaissance lens but with the luxury of contemporary comfort. My largish bedroom epitomised the simple elegance of Italian style at its best, respecting the heritage of the building. And through an arched window was the most stunning view of the Duomo that I could imagine. What could be more romantic? I’m sure Miss Honeychurch would have been thrilled.
With a super-comfortable bed dressed with top quality sheets, polished wooden floors, plenty of storage space and a flat screen TV, the bedroom had everything you needed. The en-suite bathroom had soft robes and slippers for lounging around in while you enjoy the view, marble floors and a thing that is very close to my heart – a proper bath for more lounging!
Before going out to dinner I took the lift to the top of the Tower to toast the city with a glass of Franciacorta at the rooftop restaurant and bar. The hotel has two viewing platforms which must have the best views of Florence anywhere. The city-side view encompassed a grand sweep of the main sights. You could just imagine the Guelfis and Ghibellinis scheming and plotting six hundred years ago in this most atmospheric of places.
One of the wonderful things about the hotel is how quiet it is given its central position which guarantees a great night’s sleep. So not long after putting my head on the pillow, it was time for breakfast. Another spectacular rooftop view this time of the river Arno with sight of the Santa Trinita bridge, the Via Maggio, the Church of San Miniato al Monte and the Bellosguardo Hills.
Breakfast was a sumptuous feast of local and organic fruit, pastries, meats, cheeses and cereals with delicious fresh juices, teas and coffees to wash it down. There is a beautifully engineered precision to the elegance of the hotel. Everything is perfect but without trying too hard.
Looking for something more than that view? Here are nine suggestions for things to do in Florence:
- See some of the greatest art in the world at the Uffizi gallery.
- Hang out with the locals and have a coffee, pastry or a drink at Caffe Gilli.
- Go for a walk in the stunning Boboli Gardens next to the Pitti Palace.
- Eat cappellacci with pear, pecorino in a cacio e pepe sauce at Zeb.
- Shop for vintage finds for men and women at Desii Vintage.
- Have a glass of Franciacorta at Procacci and snack on their Foie Gras with truffle butter rolls.
- Eat authentically rustic Tuscan dishes at the Ristorante Buca dell Orafo, hidden behind the Ponte Vecchio.
- Stock up on your lingerie and socks (for the chaps) at Quercioli & Lucherini
- Buy beautiful leatherware at bargain prices at the Scuola del Cuoio Leather School of Florence
Thinking of visiting Florence yourself? Why not pin this post for later…