La dolce vita gets even sweeter in the fall, when summer’s heat – and crowds – begin to dissipate. Eminently walkable, the cradle of the Renaissance is an open-air gallery, with centuries-old architecture and a picturesque location along the Arno River. While wandering is part of its charm, “Florence is a city behind closed doors,” says David Lowy, a travel agency executive based in Vancouver, British Columbia. “You need someone to open the doors for you.” He turns to Virtuoso on-site tour partners such as Florencetown to arrange after-hours viewings of Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia Gallery, private terrace tours at the Duomo, and, when it reopens next year, access to the Vasari Corridor, the Medici family’s secret passage above the Ponte Vecchio.
Nestled in a quiet piazza near the Ponte Vecchio, Trattoria 4 Leoni serves delicate pear pasta with asparagus; fried zucchini flowers; and beautiful salads. You can’t go wrong with the house Chianti Classico.
Sip a complimentary glass of prosecco during the inevitable wait at La Giostra, a lively spot where hundreds of white lights twinkle overhead and the eclectic owner works the room like a celebrity. Try the pappardelle with wild boar or the famed Florentine steak.
“No acqua, solo vino” reads the sign at Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina, a wine bar stocked with small-production gems. Directly across from the Pitti Palace, its patio makes a perfect people-watching spot.