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Travel review: Hotel Lungarno, Florence

by Helena Lang
Travel review: Hotel Lungarno, Florence
Image: Getty Images

The views, the colours and the Tuscan specialities are everything in one of Italy’s most beautiful cities.

he view from our balcony at Hotel Lungarno in Florence is one that Miss Lucy Honeychurch, the character in E M Forster’s novel A Room With A View, would be more than a little envious of. To our right is the Ponte Vecchio, the city’s famous bridge smothered with quaint, little gold merchant and jewellery shops, all wooden shutters and red-tiled roofs (and selfie-obsessed tourists). To the left is the more restrained and elegant Ponte Santa Trinita bridge, with its high-end designer boutiques at one end and quirky vintage stores at the other. In the distance straight ahead is the imposing dome of the Duomo, and in all directions are buildings in the spicy, earthy tones beloved by the city and reflected in the calm, glossy waters of the river Arno.

Our sighs of pleasure are accompanied by welcome glasses of prosecco, before unpacking in our beautiful room decorated in a chic combination of navy and off-white that’s the hotel’s livery. It’s a smart, bling-free zone with a swanky marble bathroom loaded with Ferragamo toiletries (the hotel is part of the Lungarno collection owned and run by the Italian Ferragamo family), and for one moment I imagine smuggling one of the chic velvet cushions embroidered with my initials – ‘HL’ – into my luggage to take home. But good sense prevails and instead we stroll out of the hotel for our Florentine dinner.

Hotel Lungarno
Hotel Lungarno

The Hotel Lugarno’s sister property, Portrait Firenze, sits opposite on the other side of the river, and in its fashionable downstairs restaurant Caffè dell’Oro we enjoy a contemporary Italian menu heavily influenced by Japanese cooking techniques. Stand-out dishes include tender spinach-stuffed turbot, baked with a dark bread crust, served with an amatriciana sauce and a pecorino foam, and the boozy tiramisu pudding, which was simply sublime.

Florence is easy to navigate on foot, and next morning we take advantage of the crisp, bright spring weather to explore. I had done my research and downloaded some free, self-guided walking tours from, and our first expedition took us along the river until we reached the door of San Nicolò in piazza Giuseppe Poggi, once one of the many doors granting access beyond the city during medieval times.

From there we climbed multiple staircases and paths uphill, crossing a few roads, spying fountains, all the while accompanied by musical buskers, until reaching the top – Piazzale Michelangelo – and the best view of Florence, along with a replica statue of Michelangelo’s David. After a breather, accompanied by a coffee and gelato, we continued climbing to San Miniato al Monte, where there is a beautiful Romanesque church complete with art and frescoes. It’s a gorgeous stop for quiet contemplation and a wander around the spectacular cemetery, where Carlo Collodi, the creator of Pinocchio, is buried.

Rosella Buonamici works her magic in the family pasticceria
Rosella Buonamici works her magic in the family pasticceria

Dinner that evening was at Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco (restaurant of the white boar), a family-run trattoria in an ancient 14th-century tower just seconds from the hotel. Delicious wild boar steaks, chargrilled with bowls of mixed veg roasted in olive oil, came with heaps of spinach and bowls of white beans, all washed down with €8 carafes of house chianti. If only our great British cities could serve up meals like this for these kind of prices. Another dinner success was at the Osteria Belle Donne, one of actor Stanley Tucci’s favourites. Sliced beef with rocket and Parmesan was tender and full of flavour, while the truffle delicacies seemed to be the locals’ favourites. Equally full of tradition is Pasticceria Buonamici, a Sunday morning tradition for breakfast pastries and coffee, and where Rossella Buonamici continues her father and grandfather’s business of creating local delicacies such as chestnut and pine nut cake, cantucci and more. She will even show you how to make them yourself if she has the time.

Of course, Florence is full of art and history, but it’s impossible to tick every box on a short break. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Duomo, is a must however, and it’s free to enter as long as there isn’t a service. We decided it was worth buying tickets to access the whole building complex (buy in advance from official site A Brunelleschi pass got us entry to the dome (463 steps) and the bell tower (yet another 414 steps), as well as other sites within this amazing atmospheric complex. On our last morning, before leaving for the airport I dashed out to a local shoe shop to buy some Italian Mary Janes I’d been lusting after while window shopping. They aren’t the kind of shoes I could wear scaling cathedral steps, but in chic navy and off-white they will always remind me of that glamorous room with a view at Hotel Lungarno.

How to book

Rooms at Hotel Lungarno start from €528 per night, room only. For more information and to book, visit

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