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My Florence: Tommaso Melani


Founded in Florence in 1983, the Stefano Bemer workshop specialises in exquisite shoes, handcrafted in Italy from the finest materials. Famous for its bespoke creations, it also offers ready-to-wear footwear made with the same amount of care and skill, which has brought the brand to a wider audience. We sat down with CEO and co-founder Tommaso Melani to get his top tips for exploring Florence, the city where it all began

Emma Cheevers
Emma Cheevers ,

‘I was born and raised in Florence, on the hills towards Fiesole where I still live. I’ve travelled the world and, although I’ve discovered beautiful places and cultures, I would never leave here. Florence is one of those few places that can give you everything: narrow streets with worn cobblestones, beautiful Renaissance architecture and green hills around it.

‘I still visit Old England Stores, because I bought my first blazer there when I was 10 and it reminds me of Florence as it used to be. Next to it is Flow, which I love for the high-quality selection of T-shirts and denim. Don’t miss Alessandro Dari jewellery store;it has the atmosphere of an old alchemist’s workshop.

Cestello is by far the best fish restaurant I know and a cool place to spend the evening; I love the food, the presentation, and the environment, and they have a great selection of Champagne and cognacs. I like Trattoria Sostanza , aka Il Troia, because it hasn’t changed in 40 years, and Osteria delle Tre Panche, because they serve the 20 or so guests they can sit the most amazing, rich food you could ever hope to taste.

‘I often go to La Cocotte, because it looks like a coffee place in the West Village in New York, and also to Rivoire, because it’s the quintessential Florentine café.

I like showing friends around the city on foot, because that’s how you get the feel of a place. I make sure I take them for an aperitivo – in summer there’s a small bar right under Piazzale Michelangelo from where the view over the city at sunset is breathtaking – and a good meal somewhere like Trattoria 13 Gobbi, my official introduction to Florence’s food for newcomers.

My latest discovery is the Mercato di San Lorenzo. The concept of the restaurant hall upstairs is incredibly clever and well done. I only buy local, fresh and organic produce, which is abundant here. You’ll probably find me there every morning, or at Caffè Cibrèo once I’ve dropped off my shopping in the car.

The places I’ve mentioned are all ones I never want to see crowded with visitors. But I would like everyone to love Florence the way I do, and so …’

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