June 4, 2018 | Kirker Holidays
Discerning travellers visiting the beautiful city of Florence with specialist tour operator Kirker Holidays can now explore it in even more depth, thanks to a new small group walking tour offered exclusively to Kirker clients.
Launched in May, the two-hour tour runs every Sunday morning and costs just £20 per person, following an itinerary that can be tailored to its participants, encompassing Florentine highlights such as the Piazza della Repubblica, Loggia del Mercato del Porcellino (site of the famous bronze wild boar statue), Ponte Vecchio, Piazza Pitti, Santo Spirito, Ponte alla Carraia, and Via della Vigna Nuova.
Every season is wonderful in Florence, but summer has its own particular charm. Rise early and enjoy a delicious breakfast in the sunshine before visiting one of the city’s incredible galleries and museums, ahead of the crowds. Then, as the city’s streets start to fill and the temperature climbs, retreat to the tranquillity of your chosen hotel for a riposo (the Italian equivalent of a siesta): many of Kirker’s featured properties also have delightful gardens or swimming pools in which to sit out the heat of the day.
Included with every Kirker holiday to Florence is a guaranteed timed entrance ticket to one of the city’s main museums: the Bargello sculpture gallery, the Accademia (home to Michelangelo’s fabled statue of David) or the Uffizi, its Renaissance masterpieces having been rehung in a series of renovated rooms, more befitting their importance. Following last year’s unveiling of the ‘Botticelli Rooms’, a new layout in the eastern wing opened in February. Dedicated to Caravaggio and the 17th century, each of the eight rooms bears an evocative name (including ‘Between Reality and Magic’, ‘By Candlelight’ and ‘Florentine Epic’) and, between them, display 50 great and unmissable masterpieces from the period.
For lovers of 20th century art, a visit to the new Collezione Roberto Casamonti is a must. This private collection, which went on display for the first time in April, features works from Braque, Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Fernand Leger, Modigliani and Picasso, and can be found in the Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni on Piazza Santa Trinita. Admission is free but appointments must be arranged in advance; the Kirker Concierge can assist with this, as well as offering advice on the city’s myriad cultural attractions and booking concert or opera tickets, expert local guides or a table for dinner at one of Kirker’s recommended local restaurants.
One of the most striking new exhibitions is the new installation currently on show at Palazzo Strozzi. Running until 26 August, The Florence Experiment is the concept of German artist Carsten Höller and plant neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso. Using two monumental slides in the Renaissance courtyard and a special scientific laboratory connected to the façade of Palazzo Strozzi, the ‘experiment’ studies the interaction between plants and human beings.
Also new in the city for 2018 – and a must for visitors who enjoy high-end shopping and dining as part of their short break experience – is the Gucci Garden on Piazza della Signoria. After browsing (and possibly purchasing) the designer goods on display, head to Osteria Gucci da Massimo Bottura for divine cuisine created by the three Michelin-starred chef, Massimo Bottura, whose first restaurant, Osteria Francescana in Modena, was awarded Best Restaurant in the World in 2016 and currently holds second place.
When it comes to choosing where to stay, Kirker features more than 20 hotels in Florence and the surrounding Tuscan countryside – from charming private homes to opulent Medici palaces and tranquil Chianti villas. But there are few finer hotels in the city centre than the five-star deluxe Hotel Savoy, set in the heart of the city on the Piazza della Repubblica. Reopened in April following extensive refurbishment, the Savoy blends timeless Italian elegance with contemporary interior design by Olga Polizzi, its public spaces adorned with colourful art and design elements, including paintings by Luca Pignatelli. For an opulent short break to celebrate a special occasion, stay in one of the hotel’s Junior Deluxe Suites and enjoy four nights for the price of three this summer, as well as €50 to spend in the restaurant or bar. From 29 July to 30 August, stay four nights for the price of three in a Junior Deluxe Suite from £2,559 pp * – saving £650 pp.
Antica Torre di via Tournabuoni 1 (a boutique residence): Considered to be one of medieval Florence’s most historic ‘tower houses’, this beautiful 13th century property is a few minutes’ walk from the Duomo. Kirker clients are accommodated in the stylish Palazzo Gianfigliazzi section of the house, its renovated rooms considered to be some of the most stylish and comfortable in Florence. From 1 July to 31 August, stay three nights for the price of two from £799 pp* – saving £150 pp.
Grand Hotel Villa Medici (five-star superior): During the summer months, this 18th century palace is one of Kirker’s favourite places to stay in the city centre, with its oasis-like private garden and swimming pool. The Duomo is just 15 minutes’ walk away and the area is home to several excellent local trattoria. Until 22 July, stay four nights for the price of three from £1,108 pp* – saving £210 pp.
Villa La Massa (five-star deluxe): For the perfect retreat in high summer, Kirker highly recommends this idyllic Renaissance villa, a 15-minute drive from the centre of Florence (guests can use the complimentary shuttle during the day). The 37 elegant Florentine rooms are surrounded by 22 acres of gardens leading down to the banks of the Arno, and facilities include a summer swimming pool, tennis court, spa and an excellent restaurant with a riverside terrace. From 16 July – 31 August, stay three nights for the price of two from £1,198 pp* – saving £240 pp.
*Prices are based on two people sharing and include flights (regional departures available), private car transfers, accommodation with breakfast, Kirker’s Guide Notes to restaurants, museums and sightseeing, a guaranteed entrance ticket to the Uffizi, Accademia or Bargello Gallery, and the services of the Kirker Concierge to book opera tickets, expert local guides or a table for dinner.