As a student, Shari Hochberg first experienced Florence for a semester that would change her life. It was “love at first sight, and smell and taste” the city leaving a lasting impression, one which would stay with Shari for many years to come. In 2010, she made the big move to the city, having qualified as an Ashtanga teacher and set forth to teach around Florence that has evolved into Sole Yoga Holidays leading yoga retreats in exotic locations including Greece, India, Morocco and Italy. When not teaching or travelling, you can find Shari wandering the streets of Santo Spirito and San Frediano immersed in the local culture which she says “truly inspires me.” And on sunny days you’ll find her hiking up to Piazzale Michelangelo then further to the church of San Miniato al Monte, for a view of the city that she now calls home. But there is more to Florence for this yogini than just finding the most serene green spaces. Here Shari shares her favourite locations in the city.

1. Galleries I Love 

Call me traditional, but I still get goosebumps every single time I stroll through the Uffizi Gallery. Maybe it is because this is one of the places that I totally fell in love with while I was studying in Florence during college. I am a very nostalgic person and La Primavera by Botticelli still moves me to tears. I also love to slowly saunter through the Bargello where I am a bit obsessed with David by Donatello with his incredibly sassy hat and boots glistening in bronze.

2. For A Perfect Dinner

I always love going to Olio e Convivium in Santo Spirito. A touch of traditional mixed in with modern charm. The menu has a selection to suit everyone including those picky eaters that tend to visit. From fish to fresh pasta, divine desserts with an extensive wine list to boot. I always leave pleased and so does every guest that I take there.

3. For A Sweet Treat

Dolci e Dolcezze in Piazza Beccaria is incredible. I was first drawn to the place by the adorable windows and pastel green exterior. Once inside there are so many treats to choose from. I am a chocolate gal and their rich chocolate tart is incredible and something I often crave - I am glad I do not live within walking distance! I also love pistachio gelato from Carapina or the caramel salato flavour from Gelateria Dei Neri. 

4. My Florence Style

Coming from San Francisco, I don’t find the overall style too different. San Franciscans are a bit more conservative then their Southern counterparts so I feel very comfortable. I have always worn high heels and love to mix and match styles yet I feel that I can take it up a notch here in Florence and be more creative. One thing I do admire, and I am slowly working on this concept, is purchasing a few classic high-end pieces that you can wear season after season that are timeless.

5. Favourite Shopping Stores & Streets 

I love mixing vintage and modern, so Nadine Boutique is a perfect spot for me. I love their jewellery and purses as well. I also find interesting layering pieces and easy summer dresses at the market in Sant’Ambrogio and in piazza Santo Spirito.

6. For Sunset cocktails 

It is hard to find a bad view on the rooftops in Florence but you can’t go wrong with a cocktail at Hotel Continentale or Minerva Hotel in piazza Santa Maria Novella. In the winter, I am crazy for the scene and cocktails at Florian (now closed), the Florence outpost to the original 18th-century bar in Venice. 

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

I enjoy an outdoor cocktail and the music at Le Murate in the summer months. I also love Easy Living on the Arno which is open during the summer normally from May until September. It's an annual pop up bar along the banks of the river with music, good aperitivo and plenty of places to sit and watch the famous Florentine sunset.

8. Favourite Green Space In Florence 

The beautiful and well-manicured gardens at the Four Seasons Hotel, what a gorgeous and quiet area to escape the city for a lunchtime stroll. There is art and sculpture jotted around the grounds amongst magnificent old trees which you can sit under and read a book or simply take in the serene views. 

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

One of my favourite escapes is to the medieval town of San Gimignano, surrounded by old 13th-century walls and famed for its magnificent towers which litter the skyline. During the hot summer months in Florence, San Gimignano is a fresh and cool escape. Although small, there are some great boutique shops, cafes and galleries to peruse.

Find more on Shari's Italian and international yoga retreats at Sole Yoga Holiday 

Photo credit: Olga Makarova