This was once the family residence of the Openheim family, who built the neo-classical palace in 1865 when Florence was the capital of Italy. Managed by the charming Luigi Zaccardi, it is filled with gorgeous antiques that recall the opulence of that age. Luigi takes us in the Villa's Rolls Royce to visit historic Florence, including the famous Ponte Vecchio and its wonderful jewelry shops.
VILLA SAN MICHELE
This inn was designed by Michaelangelo and was once a Benedictine monastery. It commands a spectacular view of the city, and the interior is nearly as breathtaking with its antiques and Renaissance paintings. The inn's Franco Girasole takes us to visit a nearby Roman amphitheater.
TORRE DI BELLOSGUARDO
Dante frequented this ancient fortress overlooking Florence and was said to be inspired there. For centuries the home of Florentine nobles, Gianni Franchetti converted "The Tower" into an inn with all the trappings of a Renaissance palace. Gianni is famous for his "bomba," a cocktail he invented. He claims that after a few bombas, guests usually can't find their way back to their rooms-but they don't care.
We visit the workshops of Giulio Giannini, where they still make paper the same way they did during the days of the Medicis. We are shown the ancient technique they use to give their papers a marbled finish.
Randall visits the Cibeo restaurant, recently selected by food critic Patricia Wells as one of the top restaurants in Italy. Chef Fabio Picchi shows us his favorite recipe for fish, and explains why great Italian restaurants should not serve pasta.
Florence the Museum
The city of Florence has an abundance of important art works, including many buildings and statues. We take a tour of the city and see why many consider it to be a work of art in its own right.
Tower of Pisa
The famous tower of Pisa, an easy drive from Florence, is saved. After being shut for years, we meet the engineers who have worked out the ingenious method of keeping it upright and go with them by crane to the top of the tower to test their theories.