Florence is a design-lovers playground. Abundant with culture and history, it’s packed with vibrant piazzas, palaces, cathedrals, open-air galleries, and landscaped parks. Hailed as the birthplace of the Renaissance movement, during the 15th and 16th centuries it was one of the world’s most important cities. All eyes were on Florence and the artists and intellectuals who drew inspiration from its beauty. In this fascinating Tuscan treasure, you can explore all things art and design. From ancient frescos on palace ceilings and cupolas to museums, palaces, and galleries, each has its own unique history. There’s a visual delight around every corner. This Florence Design Guide has everything you need to begin your aesthetically decadent adventure.
Palazzo Vecchio and Loggia dei Lanzi
Palazzo Vecchio or “old palace” was once the most important administrative building in Florence. Dating back to 1299, it was designed by the same architects who worked on the Duomo and has a castle-like exterior appearance. It overlooks the bustling Piazza della Signora as well as the open-air statue gallery of Loggia dei Lanzi. The palace is decorated with coats of arms representing the most powerful families in Florence. Inside the palace, step into the world of the Medicis.
Immerse yourself in arched courtyards, grand halls, and expansive frescos depicting battles and victories over neighboring Siena and Pisa. Head to the Map Room and Studiolo of Francesco I to find some hidden gems. This small concealed study designed by Vasari is packed with paintings, stucco, sculptures, and a striking fresco ceiling. For the best views of the piazza, climb Arnolfo’s Tower – one of the most imposing medieval towers remaining in Florence.
Address: Piazza della Signoria, 50122, Florence, Italy
Piazza del Duomo
At the heart of every Florence Design Guide, you’ll find the iconic Piazza del Duomo. Magnificent feats of architecture surround the vibrant square. This includes Giotto’s Campanile, the Baptistery of St. John, the Duomo Florence, and Loggia del Bigallo. If you’re not sure where to begin, head for Giotto’s Campanile. Visitors can climb the Gothic structure’s 414 steps inside the bell tower for fantastic views of the city and Duomo. Across the piazza, the Duomo of Florence’s Cathedral captivates with an exterior covered in white, green, pink, and red marble. Admire the Duomo from the outside, then complete your experience with a journey to the top of Cupola di Brunelleschi. Ascend the stairs, admiring a detailed fresco of The Last Judgement before overlooking the red rooftops of Florence.
Address: Piazza del Duomo, 50122, Florence, Italy
Uffizi Palace & Gallery
One of the world’s most renowned art museums, this incredible palace and gallery contains extensive Renaissance art collections. Inside the Vasari-designed building, you can discover rare works by Da Vinci, Raphael, Botticelli, and Titian. Ancient busts and statues from the Medici family line the opulently decorated corridors. Inside the library, there’s a preservation of historic manuscripts and drawings relating to the collections. For a unique experience, take an early evening guided tour and enjoy the gallery’s peaceful atmosphere and masterpieces without the crowds.
Address: Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6, 50122, Florence, Italy
Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura
This intimate Gucci-inspired restaurant by world-renowned chef Massimo Bottura sits close to Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. The interior has a delightful pea green and emerald decoration- peppered with custom-made Ginori porcelain in Gucci’s signature Herbarium design. Part of the exhibit and boutique space Gucci Garden, the restaurant’s design has the same fashionable flair and spirit as the brand’s clothing and accessories. The seasonal menu of this Michelin-star restaurant is classically Tuscan, exploring the deep roots of Italian cookery and celebrating them at the highest level.
Address: Piazza della Signoria 10, Florence, 50122, Italy
La Bottega del Buon Caffe
Looking towards the Arno River, nestled beneath the medieval San Niccolo Tower, this luxe Michelin-star restaurant is a stylish space in which to enjoy a delicious dining experience. Decorated by the international designer Jeanette Thottrup, the interior combines relaxation and a homely atmosphere with exposed stone walls, an open kitchen, and cozy furnishings. The restaurant offers an outdoor terrace for al fresco dining and à la carte tasting menus. Most seasonal ingredients are imported from their country farm estate just outside Siena, and dishes are served with copious glasses of fine Tuscan wine.
Address: Lungarno Benvenuto Cellini, 69/R, 50125, Florence, Italy
When exploring the highlights of our Florence Design Guide, listing the design hotels in Florence is a must! Overlooking the Arno River next to Ponte Vecchio with its wooden shuttered jewelry stores, the 5-star Portrait Firenze is perfectly located to explore all that Florence has to offer. The family of Italian shoemaker Salvatore Ferragamo owns this hotel, and his exquisite designs spill over into guest suites decorated in cool grays, creams, whites, and browns. The elegant river-view dwellings include glamorous black-and-white photographs of celebrities with Ferragamo, retro furnishings, and luxe textiles. You can order a massage to your room, visit Ferragamo’s shoe collection museum nearby, or dine on the terrace overlooking Ponte Vecchio and the rooftops of Florence.
Address: Lugarno degli Acciaiuoli, 4, 50123, Florence
J.K. Place Firenze
Hidden away inside an elegant Tuscan townhouse, J.K. Place Firenze is located close to Santa Maria Novella station in Florence. It’s well-known as one of the best-designed hotels in Florence. Fashion designers launch collections amidst the hotels’ classic contemporary interiors. The rooms are tastefully decorated by lauded local designer Michele Bonan and walls are adorned with life drawings, mirrors, and photographs. The service in the hotel is impeccable, with cozy lounge rooms and a delightful terrace. Here, you can enjoy dinner or drinks overlooking Basilica Santa Maria Novella on balmy summer evenings.
Address: Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, 7, 50123, Florence