As entrepreneur Sade Awe prepares to welcome her luxury industry friends from around the world to the Inner Circle Experience in March, she shares with Luxeicon what makes Florence the perfect pick for this year’s gathering.


Even for those of us who have traveled the world, there are certain cities that always have your heart. For entrepreneur Sade Awe, founder of the Bridal Circle Company and the luxury gifting company, Eazy Gyft, that city is Florence. While the luxury bridal planner has criss-crossed the globe throughout her career, she still remembers her first visit to Florence 30 years ago.

“I have such a love for Florence. I’ve always loved it,” she says. “It’s the food, the people, the warmth, the culture, the art, the shopping.”

When it came time to select the latest destination for the high-end conference Awe founded seven years ago, The Inner Circle Experience (back in-person after a two year pandemic hiatus), the obvious choice was the Italian city. “I always pick somewhere that I absolutely love, and Florence is a place I want to share with others.” Other cities where Awe has held the coveted conference in previous years include Marbella, Paris, the Bahamas and Bal Harbour.

Awe will host 50 entrepreneurs at 2022’s Inner Circle Experience (March 28-April 1), a high-level gathering of luxury industry leaders offering the chance to connect, collaborate and hear from experts in their fields. Past powerhouse speakers have included Estee Lauder president Jean-Christophe Jourde, best-selling author Seth Godin and co-founder of GILT Group Alexis Maybank. This year speakers include Zaniz Jakubowski, the designer behind the Luminosity Super Yacht and the owner of the international design firm Zaniz Studio; Heather Monahan, a TEDx speaker and best-selling author; and Morin Oluwole, the director and global head of Luxury at Meta.

“You give and pour into others, but because you’re so high up there’s nowhere for you to go to take your business to the next level,” says Awe, of the purpose of ICE. “I wanted to create an intimate environment where these leaders could go and learn and be the scholar instead of the leader.”

Over five days, attendees will come together to hear expert speakers, participate in panel discussions and network at the Villa San Michele. They’ll also make time to soak in all Florence has to offer.

Here, Awe shares insights into the Inner Circle Experience–and how to experience the luxurious side of Florence.

I’m curious how the idea for this gathering came about and how you launched the first one. 

ICE is designed for entrepreneurs; those whose livelihood is the art of creating ‘WOW’ for a clientele which has seen and done it all. ICE is an experience that encourages, pampers and inspires the industry’s most successful creatives. The purpose of ICE is to help professionals hone their already in-depth knowledge and reveal information which would elevate their businesses to a fresh, astounding level of success. 

Why did you select Florence for Inner Circle Experience?  

There is no more perfect location from which to revel in the spirit of the Renaissance and indulge in inspiration than from the Belmond Villa San Michele. Our meeting of the minds could not be more aptly placed than in this most idyllic setting. Intimate, stimulating and indelible, these luxurious accommodations promise to be unforgettable. 

Plus, I could write a book on my love for all things Florence, Belmond Villa San Michele and Four Seasons Firenze. It was instant love at first sight when I stayed at both hotels. Each property has its own uniqueness about it, and offers entirely different experiences, and both properties have a magic about them that will leave you breathless. 

What are some of the events you have planned for taking advantage of the city. 

Let’s talk about our first night experience taking place at Palazzo Gondi. This beautiful palace in Florence, has some of the best views, including a view of the Duomo, located a block from Piazza della Signoria. It was built in 1490 and it has beauty to be forever admired.  

We will also be hosted by Belmond’s Castello di Casole. Tucked high in the hills surrounding Casole, down an unassuming farm road, the first glimpses of the historic property emerge. Between leafy banks and towering trees, the hotel presides over an untouched landscape.

The gala dinner experience will take place at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel Firenze. Just steps away from the cultural heart of Florence, it features one of the most beautiful and magical private gardens and pools.  It’s a must-experience modern urban resort.

Tell us about Villa San Michele.  

With its impressive 14th century architecture and exquisite Florentine artistry, Belmond Villa San Michele paints a stunning portrait of Tuscan luxury. A blend of beautiful Renaissance-era design and a modern sensibility for curated sophistication, I find the hotel is as inspiring as the city’s greatest cathedrals and galleries. The Belmond Villa San Michele’s façade, attributed to Michelangelo, is the vantage point from which Florence famed grandeur and the timeless Chianti hills beyond are revealed. Gracefully cradled by lush woodland and strikingly terraced gardens, the Belmond offers unparalleled panoramas from its doorstep. 

What is your favorite restaurant in Florence? 

La Loggia Restaurant. Under the tutelage of executive chef Alessandro Cozzolino, his dishes feature daring modern twists and unique ingredients that leave you asking for seconds. One of my favorite dishes—and I mean I could eat it day and night—is chef Alessandro’s famous butter sage ravioli and his unique spin on the tiramisu.  

Another favorite is a family owned restaurant called Vini e Vecchi Sapori. Everything on the menu is delicious, and my philosophy when it comes to eating is, it has to be worth all the calories if it’s going in my mouth—nothing worse than wasted calories.

Everything that came out of the kitchen was fresh and delicious—the bruschetta with sweet tomatoes, the fried zucchini flowers. I particularly loved the pasta with zucchini flowers and cream. Perfecto! 

The tiramisu has a different twist to it, but it’s a must-try with raspberries. The Bistecca alla Fiorentina was flavorful and cooked to perfection. The staff are hilarious, friendly, fun and energetic, making the environment electric. 

The food is unfailingly excellent. This place is a gem in the heart of Florence and a must visit.  

A TIP: Please make reservations. The restaurant is small and intimate and gets full fast.

Where are you shopping in Florence?

Just walk down the beautiful cobblestone street of Via de’ Tornabuoni and you will find every top designer you are looking for in fashion. You’ll find all the designer boutiques from Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Pucci…Ferragamo and more… 

Best place to watch the sunrise. 

I would have to say the Piazzale Michelangelo. It sits on the other side of the Arno and its height makes it a perfect viewpoint for a visitor to get a great view over Florence. You have a wide view of the ancient walls as well as the Arno River and the Centro Storico

Best place to get gelato.  

Hands down Gelato Badiani.

Image courtesy of Four Seasons Firenze
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