Travel: Why Florence is the perfect destination to let your creative juices (and fine wines) flow

SLIDING a significant sheet of slim paper from a folder and smoothing it out on the table in entrance of him, Roberto Guarnieri is setting out the floor principles of artwork for amateurs.

“The first rule is to appreciate, you should smile,” the retired architect, artist and co-operator of Studio Iguarnieri ( tells the group of 4 collected on the grass outside the peach and custard coloured partitions of Villa La Massa, a historic resort perched on a picturesque bend of the river Arno, just outdoors Florence.

The other policies? No judgement (of your have or others’ get the job done) and if you mess up, it’s better to start again than check out to suitable it.

We start the hour-extensive artwork class by having it in turns to draw circles on the paper with thick marker pens, initial with our eyes closed, then open up, then with our non-dominant hand, and observing the distinction.

Promptly progressing to uncomplicated ink sketches on paper, we’re quickly commencing our ultimate parts, spreading a dollop of white plaster on tough canvas boards with a trowel, to make a backdrop for our fresco paintings (a conventional style where the paint is applied even though the plaster is however moist), encouraged by Florence’s most legendary flower, the iris.

After dabbing heavy splodges of vibrant blue on the plaster with a brush, I decide up the trowel once more and smear the paint into what I hope are petal designs, introducing flecks of black in the center and scraping vertically to create the stem.

The iris is enormously revered all over these parts. It options on the Florentine coat of arms and the metropolis is house to the impressive Giardino Dell’Iris gardens (totally free entry, open for just 1 month every spring, when the grounds are blanketed in a rainbow of blooms.

No make any difference what time of yr you pay a visit to, there is no shortage of jaw-dropping attractiveness and artistic inspiration to be discovered in the Tuscan metropolis.

“In Florence, there is a significant strength about artwork,” Guarnieri says, crediting the Medici relatives for “the proportions, the colours… magnificence survives”.

The rich dynasty of bankers and politicians who ruled from the 1400s to the 1700s occur up a whole lot during my continue to be.

Down in the crypt of the Cappelle Medicee (entry €9/£7.50 a bronze statue honours the previous of the noble clan.

“She was a really vital lady for Florence – we thank her,” says tour guidebook Paola Di Felice, clasping her arms in prayer place and boosting them up to Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici.

Why? Since just before her demise, the Electress Palatine signed a pact that ensured the family’s many worthwhile treasures – painting, sculptures, reliquaries – ought to remain in Florence for community enjoyment, and they have been attracting website visitors to the town ever considering the fact that.

Circumstance in place: the magnificent baroque funeral chapel earlier mentioned the crypt, a large octagonal area lined with elaborate marble panels in dark environmentally friendly, gray, brown and red. And, subsequent doorway, a scaled-down, additional minimalist chapel, the perform of Renaissance artist Michelangelo, in which four other Medicis are buried.

The popular spouse and children was also liable for Villa La Massa, which dates again to the Medici period and handed as a result of the fingers of a assortment of aristocratic owners, just before turning into a luxurious lodge in 1953.

Comprising a cluster of structures (including a former flour mill and farm property, and the tiny chapel where the late David Bowie married his spouse Iman in 1992), the secluded home functions opulent but contemporary décor, each and every room uniquely adorned in sumptuous colours.

Closure in the course of the pandemic permitted the opportunity for big renovations, such as a new outside heated swimming pool, and now workers are wanting forward to a chaotic summer season.

The resort is well-known with attendees who adore not only the gorgeous, leafy grounds and impeccable provider, but the proximity to Firenze (to use the city’s Italian identify), just a 15-minute shuttle bus absent.

A short while ago named the most visited cultural web site in Italy for the initially time, the Uffizi Galleries ( are ordinarily the most important attract in Florence for artwork enthusiasts, but ideal now a further exhibition is the converse of the city – among tourists and locals alike.

A co-manufacturing of Palazzo Strozzi Basis and the Bargello Museum, Donatello, The Renaissance (tickets €15/£12.50) is billed as a at the time in a lifetime retrospective analyzing the greatest sculptor of his generation, and the affect he had on his contemporaries.

Open until finally July 31, the show traces the artist’s earliest operates in terracotta, through to chubby cherubs and gleaming golden spiritual figures, up right until the previous 5 many years when his doing the job everyday living was wholly devoted to creating tasks commissioned by – you guessed it – the Medicis.

The culinary arts are also held in substantial esteem in Tuscany, as I understand when I sit down in the private kitchen of Casa Colonica, the former farmhouse wherever I am stationed at Villa La Massa, for a cookery demonstration with head chef Stefano Ballarino.

Carefully prodding and stretching a spongy dough into an undulating oval, chef douses it with olive oil and rock salt and slides it into the oven.

Fifteen minutes afterwards we are savouring steaming chunks of focaccia topped with creamy goat’s cheese, pecorino, salami and mortadella ham.

My epicurean adventures carry on the subsequent afternoon at Vallepicciola vineyard (, an hour from Florence in the Chianti Classico area.

Jumping in the again of an open-topped jeep, we zoom off on a tour of the estate, wherever the vines are nevertheless snoozing, only a several little green buds beginning to sprout. Agronomists are challenging at work optimising expanding circumstances to ensure a abundant and flavoursome harvest when summer time will come.

Hopping out at the top of a hill, we duck into a deconsecrated chapel lined with barrels of Vinsanto dessert wine. Resting in the interesting, large-ceilinged house, they are in the midst of a 5-12 months growing older process.

Most of the wine generation listed here takes place underground (the subterranean temperatures assist to preserve energy). Gazing down from the overhead walkways, we see gleaming stainless metal vats awaiting the arrival of this year’s freshly squeezed juice.

“It’s peaceful now, but from August to November, this place is generally hectic,” says tour guideline Federico Gutierrez, top us one more level down, exactly where rows and rows of Hungarian oak barrels lie in the darkish, the only sound the gentle hiss of a humidity regulator.

Brandishing a extensive glass pipette, Gutierrez extracts samples of Migliore Rosso that hasn’t nevertheless reached its total potential (it however preferences really tasty to my untrained palate).

Back again on floor stage, we sup 7 of the vineyard’s prime drops, from a flippantly fizzing Spumante to a deep Cabernet Franc, and deliberate more than which to consider property.

Established in 1999 on the grounds of an aged nunnery, Vallepicciola is just one of the youngest vineyards in Tuscany.

Committed to sustainable viticulture, the estate employs photovoltaic panels to electricity the cellar, and the properties, made with nearby elements, created to blend in with the normal environment.

Remarkable architecture and modern day tactics that honour the heritage of the region. No doubt the Medicis would approve.

How to program your excursion:

Fees at Villa La Massa ( start out from €520 (around £470) for a Double Deluxe Area per evening, which includes breakfast. Pri
ce tag also consists of use of the Arno SPA facilities (which includes gymnasium, sauna, Turkish baths). Rate consists of VAT and company. Metropolis tax excluded.