Florence’s most exciting new opening this year is the beautiful La Gemma Hotel. Owned by the influential Cecchi family it sits in one of the city’s most exclusive areas located within the 19th century Palazzo Paoletti , constructed in 1895 and designed by the architect Tito Bellini.,
La Gemma Hotel has 38 rooms and the Art Deco gourmet restaurant Luca’s with its chequerboard marble floor, an al-fresco lounge and exclusive cellar spa. Rooms are sumptuous with old world glamour, silk wallcoverings and marble bathrooms. The décor is in elegant shades of green and pink which reflect the colours of the nearby Duomo.
Family is everything in Florence, from the Medicis whose crest can be found on numerous buildings here and founders of hotel empires such as the Fortes. The Cecchis continue the tradition with their background in hospitality and fashion and the formidable family have imposed their own contemporary stamp on an historic building.
There is more to Italian food than pizza and pasta, and the lovely city of Florence is a great place to taste it. A local delicacy is lampredotto, the final lining of a cow’s stomach and found on tripe stalls or
trippaio throughout the city. Usually served on a crusty bun, locals eat the famous sandwich standing up in the Mercato Centrale. Its not for everyone, and I preferred to go in search of ice cream. Italy wouldn’t be Italy without gelato and Florence is full of ice cream stalls and shops many of them dating back centuries.
Florence has a wealth of fine dining establishments and Gune is one of the city’s most interesting with unusual dishes made from produce from Tuscany and Luciana. The striking interior is decorated with strong wall art featuring portraits of well-known women, including one which puts Mona Lisa’s head on Sharon Stone’s body. A five course tasting menu includes small plates of surprising combinations and cocktails such as Amy, with a ‘deep husky identity named after Amy Winehouse’. It combines tequila with spicy ingredients from Italy’s Basilicata region.