words by Sadie Macleod

The view of the Ponte Vecchio from the Lungarno Hotel’s Restaurant Balcony

Florence – my absolute favourite place in the world, and somewhere I have returned to again and again. Needless to say I was exstatic when friends of ours announced that they were getting married there. My boyfriend and I booked our trip just under a year ago, which gave me ample of time to seek out the hippest hotel with the healthiest offerings, but because we were heading to Florence, I also thought a bit of culture would be necessary too. After quite a bit of research I came to the conclusion that Italian royalty Salvatore Ferragamo’s Lungarno Gallery Art Hotel would suit us perfectly. Situated a stones throw away from the touristy but undeniably picturesque Ponte Vechhio, the hotel makes a fantastic base for exploring the city’s must-see areas and shops.

A suite at the Hotel Gallery Art

Our hotel room, the penthouse suite, was a tranquil haven of cool beige and white furnishings teamed with natural materials and all the mod cons. I was delighted to find that our rooftop terrace (a sunbather’s dream come true) overlooked the pretty Florentine rooftops, the Duomo and the unmistakable Tuscan hills. Everything had been thought of and designed with comfortability, functionality and style in mind, and the brains behind this was no rookie either: Italian born and bred  Michele Bonan was the architect for all four Lungarno hotels in Florence (as well as the effortlessly chic JK Place).

The jogging route suggested by the Ferragamo family

With the hip part of our Florence trip established already, we then embarked upon the healthy bit. Guests at the Lungarno are encouraged to explore the city by running or cycling, and in each of the rooms you can find a small card that has Ferragamo’s suggested running routes. We chose the greener of the two and set off for the exquisite Boboli gardens.

Dotted with typical Italian statues and buildings, the Boboli gardens are built on a hillside and are abundant with beautiful roses, tree lined pathways and romantic fountains. After running for around 40 minutes we found ourselves in a lemon tree grove that overlooked the cityscape beyond. It was here, whilst taking a short rest on the step, that my boyfriend proposed to me. Sweaty, out of breath and shaking with shock, I said yes.

We celebrated with a peach and a bottle of water from the nearby grocery store and went about ringing our families. Then we sat on our rooftop drinking in celebration as the sun went down. For dinner we had sushi and champagne (a meal I will never get bored of) in the hotel’s restaurant, which also positions itself as a hip hangout for Florence’s young and beautiful.

The rest of the week was full of champagne, celebrations and lots of fantastic italian food. And on our last day we were feeling a lot less healthy than when we arrived. It seemed as though the city agreed and we had our first day of cloudy weather. Brilliantly, we were able to retreat to the Lungarno Continentale that had the only spa and relax room of the four hotels. The Spa, which is still in its soft opening stage, had two discreet treatment rooms and a small gym. But we spent all our time in the relax room that acts as a complete haven from the hustle and bustle of the Ponte Vecchio whilst looking on to it, and where guests are encouraged to lie amongst the plush cushions and slick but comfy beds to read, work or just have a snooze… The perfect end to an unforgettable trip.

Five Hip and Healthy things about the Lungarno Florence collection of hotels:

1. The breakfast at the Hotel Lungarno is the perfect way to start the day. Four different types of nuts, three different types of berries, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, dried fruit and muesli as well as soya yogurts and the towns biggest and best soy latte macchiato. Eat outside whilst overlooking the river and famous Ponte Vecchio bridge in the sun. Heaven.

2. The yoga on the roof of the Hotel Continentale offers some of the best possible views of the city.

3. Rent bikes from the Hotel Lungarno and ride around the city taking in the sites.

4. Stop for a green tea (the highest quality I have seen in a long time) on the roof of the Hotel Continental whilst overlooking the Florence skyline.

5. Check out the fantastic art hung around the lobby and dining room at the Gallery Art Hotel. Next up: exhibition of Marilyn Monroe photographs from 20 June – 15 September 2012.

Yoga with a view at the Lungarno Continentale