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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Discover Fresh Fashion in Florence

With a new crop of design shops and young creatives moving in, the ancient city is experiencing a Renaissance of its own.

1. Where to Stay

Apartments within the 14th-century Palazzo Belfiore mix historic detail with clean modernity.  

Splurge on an immaculately turned-out room at Portrait Firenze (from $644), located steps from the historic jewelry shops along the Ponte Vecchio bridge. The latest in the Ferragamo family’s collection of luxury hotels is a fashion crowd-magnet during industry events, and no wonder: the hotel’s tailored, mid-century-elegant interiors and black-and-white portraits of Cary Grant, Sophia Loren, and other style icons harken back to Florence’s fashion heyday in the ‘50s. All 34 rooms have lounges, kitchenettes and walk-in closets, but ask for a riverside room to enjoy the elevated views upstairs. Don’t miss Marilyn Monroe’s receipt for custom shoes hanging in the stairwell and the art installation on the 6th floor interpreting Florence’s “Duomo” cathedral in light. After a day of shopping, curl up in a Danish-modern armchair and browse the stacks of design books on coffee tables in the lobby lounge, where expansive windows look out over the river.

Stay smack in the middle of Florence’s Fifth Avenue at Room Mate Isabella (from $136). The 19th-century building’s lacquered-red front doors with giant brass doorknobs lead to dandified interiors, updated last year, where suiting-stripe wallpapers are juxtaposed with gem-tone velvets. The design-friendly vibe is playful, which is perfect for a crowd interested in Isabella’s breakfast until noon and late checkout. Ask for a room facing Via Tornabuoni to watch the chic Florentine street style parade, and opt for one of the junior suites, which feel palatial thanks to vaulted wooden ceilings.

Feel like a (stylish) local in one of the seven apartments in Palazzo Belfiore (from $150). Set in a 14th-century townhouse in the Oltrarno artisan quarter, the recently renovated apartments are filled with unfussy antiques and minimal white décor that let the historic Italian details like arched plaster ceilings, exposed beams and stone floors shine. The “Clarice” and “Bianca Cappello” apartments have frescoed walls; if you’re up for a climb, stay in the third-floor “Caterina de' Medici,” for an 18th-century fireplace and views over the rooftops to Santo Spirito church. Concierge services, wifi and daily newspapers are included, and each apartment comfortably sleeps four to six.

Published on Sep 18, 2014 as a web exclusive.