Updated: Apr 29, 2020
Firenze or Florence as it’s known in English, is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany, a destination I have wanted to visit for many a year. The city can be said to be the birth place for one of the most important eras in history, the Renaissance.
I along with my Partner, explored this stunningly beautiful and historic area of Italy, cementing our love for the country and came across some spectacular interiors along the way.
Our adventure began in Florence, a city that has been a pinnacle in design since the 1400’s, we visited the most iconic building in the region, The Duomo or Italian Cathedral as it translates. This gigantic church forms the centre of Florence and helped define the start of the Renaissance period. Filippo Brunelleschi created the iconic dome back in 1418 and is seen as the beginning of a movement from Medieval design to the Early Modern age.
Here in Florence, artists, architects and scholars gave importance to the individual, imagination and creativity moving away from their Medieval predecessors. Many of the world’s most famous artists have roots here from Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci to Michelangelo.
Michelangelo produced one of his most famous pieces in Florence, the statue of David in 1504. It was originally placed after consultation with Botticelli and Da Vinci, in front of Palazzo Vecchio (the Town Hall of Florence) in Piazza della Signoria. Today a replica stands within the square, but the original can be viewed at the Accademia Gallery.
The Renaissance period saw a huge shift in design both externally and internally with design aspects that are still commonly used today. To get a true sense of the Florentine and Renaissance style, there was only one option when it came to five-star luxury, The Four Seasons Hotel Firenze.
The Four Seasons Firenze is not just a hotel but a spectacular piece of art. Spread over two buildings (the main Palazzo dating back to 1473 and the second a converted 16th century convent) they are connected by an 11 acre private garden. Taking seven years to fully restore the former Palazzo della Gherardesca to the splendour that it is today, under the supervision of the 'Florentine Soprintendenza of the Monuments and Fine Arts Service' (sounds very official)
Originally the Palazzo was built for Bartolomeo Scala, chancellor to Florence’s legendary Medici family, who once governed Florence.
Approaching the very unassuming entrance (you’d be forgiven for walking straight past it) typical of the Renaissance era, the only giveaway was the very smartly dressed doorman, complete with top hat. As a former Palazzo (palatial town house), The Four Seasons Hotel blends perfectly with it’s Florentine surroundings.
Once inside, it is anything but unassuming. Immediately immersing you in the Renaissance era with a central courtyard, a typical design feature in homes of the time. Originally open-air, the Four Seasons has covered the courtyard in a huge glass ceiling that floods the room with light.
Decorated with 16th century frescos (a process of mural painting on freshly laid or wet plaster) original stuccoes (a fine plaster that was moulded into architectural details when wet) and original bas reliefs (a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material) the room feels grand and opulent.
The courtyard, which was seen as the ‘heart’ of the home, is perfectly symmetrical, a trait of the era and features Corinthian style columns with semi-circular arches. The walls are of a neutral shade but are decorated with Japanese wallpapers, silk tapestries and original paintings.
In the centre of the room is a marble replica of Michelangelo’s Bacchus and is surrounded by a huge purple floral display, that not only look beautiful, but smelt incredible too. The furnishings are classically styled using velvet upholstery and complemented by glass tables and cabinets.
The ceiling around the courtyard is coffered using shades of blue and gold and the flooring is typical of the early Renaissance, styled in a geometric tiled pattern.