If you're a reader of The Rake - and since you're reading this, that's a distinct possibility - when you think of Florence, you probably think of one thing and one thing only: Pitti Uomo. Held each January and June, this event - often referred to as 'the world's most stylish trade show' - sees 30,000-plus of the planet's preeminent peacocks flock to the Fortezza in the heart of Firenze to take the pulse of the sartorial #menswear industry, network, exhibit the next season's wares, take or place orders, source suppliers and distributors, woo media and influencers, ascertain trends... Oh, and for no small number, it's also a chance to shamelessly parade for the paparazzi, pursuing street style fame and all the wealth, power, glory and fame it confers.
Visiting Pitti has been the purpose of most of my visits to Florence. Normally, all but a few moments of my time in the city are spent deep in conversation with menswear purveyors and exhibitors, carefully inspecting handstitching, gently stroking tactile textiles, noting fluctuations in lapel width and trouser girth, pattern and hue, directing my photographer where to point his lens, and preparing to report back on which way the winds of classic masculine style are blowing for the coming season. Twenty-four/seven, it's menswear, menswear, menswear, man!
But what do you know, turns out there's much more to Florence than elegant men's garments (and sprezzy peacocks posing for Guerre, Tommy, Scott, Tamu, Mario, Spangle, Kuba, Koo and co). My last trip to the city was as a civilian, on leave, back last March. And what a delight it was! The weather neither biting, as it is in January, nor blistering as in June, I could stroll the streets free of both frost and perspiration, making amazing discoveries during my meanderings.
Though it had escaped me during my busy Pitti visits, it just so happens that there's a great deal of outstanding art to be seen in Florence - for instance, this one museum, the Uffizi? Seriously, you must stop in. Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo - even a bunch of Rembrandts stashed away in there. Superb! The artistry is even more impressive than that of a properly executed Milanese buttonhole.
Thanks to the sage guidance of the good people at Mr & Mrs Smith, I was fortunate enough to choose as my bolthole for the stay the chic JK Place hotel, a boutique 20-room property situated on Piazza Santa Maria Novella, looking directly onto the beautiful church that lends the square its name. We took the elegant, cream cashmere swathed 'Master Room', equipped with fantastically romantic four-poster bed, RL-goes-Italo décor, and a stunning view of the piazza.
Fabulously positioned for Pitti, it'd be a terrific pied-à-terre at showtime - but it's equally excellent for a leisurely visit to Florence. All those cultural delights I'd been deprived of on previous trips to the city are a short stroll away, but if that all gets too much and a menswear craving strikes, Liverano & Liverano is a mere stone's throw on Via Dei Fossi (also be sure to peruse the fabulous selections at the vintage and antique stores on that street). Favourite restaurant of the Florentine fashion cognoscenti, Trattoria Cammillo on Borgo San Jacopo, is also but a brief stroll up the banks of the Arno.
Menswear may be the main attraction this month. But you'll find there's much more to Florence than what's found within the walls of the Fortezza. It'd be a pity not to explore a little.