If you’ve never been to Florence—or if it’s been a few years since your last visit—it’s time to go, presto.
The tiny Renaissance capital scores high in our Programming category (#36) thanks to a bounty of culturally unique experiences to be had in the realms of Shopping, Culture, Culinary and Nightlife. This is where you go if you want to see some of the world’s greatest masterpieces: Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Allegory of Spring, Michelangelo’s David, and Giotto’s Ognissanti Maestà to name but just a few.
Of course, in the birthplace of global fashion brands like Roberto Cavalli, Salvatore Ferragamo and all the ‘iccis’ (Pucci, Gucci, Stefano Ricci), shopping is huge. Indeed, Florence is #14 best in the world. The entire city is like a living, breathing museum but recently it has shed its frozen-in-time demeanor by repurposing once-neglected landmarks into cultural spaces. Check out Le Murate, a former 15th-century prison where now you can take in a poetry reading, film screening or free concert. Near the river and the Cascine Park is the newish and ever-so-modern Teatro del Maggio, a stunning building and home to the Opera House as well as a rooftop amphitheater where shows take place under the stars. A couple of years ago, the historic Mercato Centrale market hall unveiled a new floor where the region’s top artisans great deals on local food from their stalls. The Florence restaurant scene is also heating up with new eateries like Il Santo Bevitore (try the green asparagus tortellini with quail breast and egg) nestled in bohemian neighborhoods away from the tourist throngs. Also in the neighborhood of Oltrarno is Archea Brewery, which pours their own artisanal beer and other Italian microbrews.