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This Must Be the Place: Portrait Firenze in Florence, Italy

Florence hotel
Last summer I checked into this dreamy Florence hotel overlooking the Arno River, a block from the Ponte Vecchio. To say it’s in the ideal location would be an understatement. It’s in the location. Portrait Firenze is the newest property in the Ferragamo family’s Lungarno Collection of stunning hotels. I died for so many details at the Portrait …. where to begin? The ’60s vibe, vintage lighting, the black-and-white photos of mid-century celebrities in Florence (and in Ferragamo). It just spoke. And it usually said: Have a prosecco. So I did. Often.

The hotel was designed by Florence-based Michele Bönan (who also designed this hot Austrian ski lodge). Bonan’s interiors are sophisticated and modern but rich in detail. Take the lobby, for example, with its expertly balanced textures — the narrow, wood-plank ceiling, the white-washed brick walls,  slate floors all set off by expansive glass doors (finished with smart, brown-leather handles) and that sexy marble reception desk. It’s casual-elegant-rough-polished perfection. Don Draper would have totally dug it.
Portrait Firenze - Lobby (3)
The guestrooms were no slouch either. The lacquer built-in kitchen with amazing square-brass pulls. The wall paneling. The graige. The room service. And the View To End All Views. (That was mine below. Yup, insane.) And there’s almost nothing more lovely than waking to the sounds of cathedral bells echoing down the Arno or Italian-leather loafers on ancient cobblestones. 
Florence hotel
(Yes, that says Marilyn Monroe’s name on the receipt below.)
florence hotel
Florence hotel
Florence hotel
Portrait Firenze
Ponte vecchio
Florence was so invigorating. As much as part of me wanted to luxuriate in that room all day, I loved pounding those cobbles in search of new energy in this old city.  Traveling to investigate a city’s creative scene, and getting to know the locals is the best job their is. What I found was a vibrant maker scene and young designers, shop owners, perfumers and others going out on their own in a city with a stiff resistance to anything post-Renaissance. I’ve already shared the great Florence blogs I found and Marie Antoinette Vintage, the total gem of a vintage store, but there is so much more to tell. That will be for another bottle of Prosecco. Stay tuned. (In the meantime, you can read my two stories on Florence in the Portfolio.)

Know of any Florence gems? I’d love to hear!



  1. Rebecca Shields

    Love that something modern gets to exist in Florence. Is this part of a broader program of modernizing that began under Renzi? Given the status that Ferragamo enjoys in Florence, I could see this happening on its own anyway. Either way, it looks fabulous.

    Because I’ve never had two euro cents to rub together in Florence, I can’t recommend great shopping beyond the window variety. But if you want food, go to the Palle d’Oro in San Lorenzo, the Proscutteria on the Via dei Neri near Sta. Croce, or a trippaio for some serious local flair (my favorite is in San Frediano). We usually spring for some vino sfuso too, which might set you back a whopping three euro.

    If you’re into sightseeing, I have to go to Sta. Maria del Carmine every time I’m there, not just because we usually stay in Sta. Trinita, but also because you won’t be fighting mobs of people to see the Masaccio frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel. It’s also worth peeking into the Corsini Chapel to see Luca Giordano’s ceiling and pendentive frescoes, as well as some great Baroque Florentine relief altarpieces. Also check out the Bargello and the Badia for some impressive sculpture. I also love wandering through – and up to – San Miniato al Monte. What a view.

    Finally, the hotel where my husband and I got married is just across the Ponte Vecchio, and the hotel where we met is a 20-minute walk toward Santa Maria Novella. Tanti baci, Firenze. Mi manchi da morire.

  2. culturefix

    Thanks for all these great suggestions. I didn’t make it up to San Miniato. I must make it next time. Everyone says that church is a must-see, and a gorgeous view of the city from up on that hill. And I don’t believe the hotel is directly connected to the leadership of Matteo Renzi. The Ferragamo family owns four beautiful hotels all in great locations in Florence.

  3. Pingback: Live in a Gucci Ad …or at Least Visit | CultureFix

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