Florence is undeniably one-of-a-kind.
What many visitors don't know, is that the city's surroundings also have much to offer.
The staff at the Hotel River & Spa will be happy to recommend things to see and do in and around Florence.
Today Fiesole is a holiday resort, beloved by Italians and foreigners alike, home to wealthy families and Florentine artists. Located on the crest of a hill, just a few minutes from the city centre and 300 metres above sea level, it offers stunning views of Florence and the Tuscan countryside. The town's villas, traditional buildings, the remains of a Roman theatre and the stylish panoramic restaurants make Fiesole a must-visit location. The stunning Badia Fiesolana monastery and the Bandini Museum with its Della Robbia ceramic art are not to be missed.
This fourteenth century monastic citadel, nestled in the Chianti countryside, was once a Carthusian Monastery, home to monks who retired here in search of an isolated and tranquil place to pray. Struck by an earthquake in 1895, it was entrusted to its current inhabitants, the Cistercian Benedictines. The citadel is open to the public, who can explore the Palazzo Acciaiuoli, the Art Gallery, the Church of San Lorenzo and all the rooms of the monastery, the crypt, the dining hall, and the Grand Cloister.
Bagno a Ripoli is a delightful little commune nestled in the beautiful countryside just outside Florence. It's well worth a trip to see the Santa Caterina Oratory, a fourteenth century masterpiece, inside which you'll find a beautiful triptych by Agnolo Gaddi.
The Golf Club Ugolino, located on the hill of the same name, 10 minutes from the city centre, was the first golf club ever opened in Italy, still one of the country's most prestigious today. Established by English residents of the Tuscan regional capital, it offers 18 holes with a par of 72 and hosts important industry events and exhibitions all year round.
Internationally renowned for its ancient terracotta and ceramics production, Impruneta is a small hamlet which dates back to the Etruscan era, nestled in truly stunning countryside, just outside Chianti. At its centre you'll find a piazza with arcades and the Santa Maria dell’Impruneta Basilica, home to the terracotta masterpieces of Michelozzo and Luca Della Robbia. It's best to visit Impruneta during one its local fairs or festivals, such as the Grape Festival which takes place on the last Sunday in September, or the Fair of Saint Luca in mid-October.
Greve in Chianti is a quaint hamlet of just 14,000 inhabitants in the Chianti Classico region, surrounded by olive groves and vines as far as the eye can see. The pleasant, slower pace of life, the artisan workshops and the truly outstanding restaurants serving typical dishes accompanied by overflowing glasses of Chianti make Greve in Chianti a dream destination. Escape the hustle and bustle of central Florence, and stop off and enjoy the sunset over the magical Tuscan hills.
Vinci is the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci, Tuscan genius par excellence. This tiny little hamlet in the beautiful countryside between Florence and Pisa is today home to the Museo Leonardiano, or Leonardo Museum, a treasure trove of information on Leonardo himself, the man, the scientist and the artist - see his sketches and faithful models inspired by his ideas and inventions.