Designer and calligrapher, Betty Soldi is one busy woman. A fixture on the streets of the Oltrarno neighbourhood in Florence, along with partner Matteo Perduca, Betty has delved into the world hotel ownership now proudly behind three of the city's best boutique sleepovers. Housed in a classic Renaissance palace SoprArno Suites is a 13-bedroom residence over three floors, each room individually designed and themed with Betty's custom design flair; AdAstra with its dreamy and whimsical interiors plus an awe-inspiring view from a wraparound terrace overlooking the private Torrigiani Garden is an unforgettable place to rest your head. And latest offering, Oltrarno Splendid, adds to this duos hotel trifecta. 

With such a passion for Florence and design, how does Betty enjoy the city when not concocting the latest hip hotel or designing for clients that include luxury brands, perfumers and fashion labels? Here she shares her favourite city spots in Florence.

1. Galleries I Love

I like the Museo Bardini for the location; Museo Marino Marini as it's so centrally hidden away and magical; and the Specola on via Romana for its authentic “still in another era“ atmosphere.

2. For A Special Dinner 

I think Pampaloni's In Fabbrica is brilliant and utterly quirky for traditional Florence, it is just incredible to dine using real silverware within the factory it was literally just made in.

3. For A Sweet Treat

For amazing pastries and chocolate I head to Dolcissima on via Maggio; La Strega Nocciola on via dei Bardi for ice cream; Rivoire in piazza della Signoria for the amazing packaging and sweet treats or Gilli in piazza della Republicca for that charming, nostalgic, glamorous feel.

4. My Florence Style

Even if I've spent 30 years of my life in London I've always looked at Florence as an open-air museum. Each street, building, facade, church, square has its own story. Centuries of history layered to create one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Fashion is a balance: A mix of personality, craftsmanship and passion, all of which exists here and the fashion often shines through the little touches, the verve, and the confidence of the people living here.

5. Favourite Shopping Stores & Streets 

Internationally, I love Céline for its simplistic style but go to Cos because it's in such an amazing building (especially the top floor). One of my favourite stores in Florence is Quercioli & Luccherini for the best underwear and sock selection!

6. For Sunset Cocktails

On the terrace of my latest boutique hotel opening, AdAstra, above the Giardino Torrigiani with its antique observatory to the stars. The terrace itself is perfect for catching rays or stargazing!

7. For Art & Culture {beyond the obvious galleries}

The Museo Marino Marini is my favourite place for the old space designed by Leon Battista Alberti and its modern setting in an unassuming piazzetta (small square/piazza).

8. Favourite Green Space In Florence 

The Giardino delle Rose and Giardino degli Iris, both near Piazzale Michelangelo. They both emit an immense sense of verdant calm and serenity. I adore watching the leaves turn their golden colours in autumn in Florence; it's a very magical time of year. 

9. Escape To The Countryside {best day trip from Florence} 

In the Valdarno, where I was born and where my family still hand make fireworks since 1869. They are part of the annual Easter fireworks in Florence, Scoppio del Carro, which is spectacular not to miss when in the Tuscan capital.

Lost_in_florence_betty_soldi_1Lost_in_florence_betty_soldi_2Lost_in_florence_betty_soldi_3Lost_in_florence_my_nine_1Lost_in_florence_my_nine_2Lost_in_florence_my_nine_3Lost_in_florence_my_nine_5
Photo credit: Olga Makarova