Florentines leave the city in droves for the summer, which might explain why the Estate Fiorentina festival has so many great cultural events in English – or maybe it’s because there are more Americans in the city than in most small US towns. Three stunning locations – the recently restored Amphitheatre at Le Cascine, the city’s contemporary space at Le Strozziare and the Biblioteca delle Oblate – are the city’s main sites of recreation, with concerts, plays, film, bilingual theatre and the like. Yet there’s also room for such charmingly eccentric diversions as, say, sandcastle competitions on Lungarno Beach.

At the Torre Guelfa (Borgo SS Apostoli 8; +39 55 2396338), the city’s tallest privately owned tower, you can admire the renaissance skyline from the rooftop bar and appreciate the 14th-century architecture around you in pretty pastel-coloured rooms that are as comfortable as they are aesthetically pleasing. Number 15 is a romantic den with a private garden; the rooms on the first floor are less ostentatious and priced accordingly.
Flight time: 13 hours. Alitalia flies from Dubai to Florence via Rome from Dhs5,010 return. www.alitalia.com.