Travel | March 29, 2022 10:26 am

Concierge Confidential: Italo Fornoni of Faena Hotel Miami Beach Shares Insider Tips on the Miami Scene

The longtime concierge recommends the best Cuban sandwich, an ideal four-hour stroll and the perfect pool (besides Faena's own, of course)

An overhead view of the pool at Faena Hotel Miami Beach
Go ahead, take Italo Fornoni's advice and adventure. Or just sit by the pool.
Photo courtesy Faena

This is Concierge Confidential, a series in which we learn about a city’s best-kept secrets from people who specialize in exactly that: long-serving concierges from the swankiest hotels in town.

At the Faena Hotel Miami Beach, the go-to guy is Chief Concierge Italo Fornoni, who knows a five-star experience when he sees one. He’s been a top concierge in Miami for many years, including a long stint at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which makes him the perfect expert city guide.

He’s partial to the Faena District of Miami Beach, but also offers a wide range of insider experiences across the whole city of Miami.

What’s a unique service that the Faena Hotel Miami Beach offers that I won’t find elsewhere?

We are home to the United States’ first South American-inspired spa, with the largest hammam on the East Coast.

What’s an underutilized part of your hotel?

We always encourage guests to visit our Library. Lined with our favorite books, the Library is a welcoming guest-only space where visitors can relax and enjoy a coffee or cocktail.

Where can I get a cup of coffee near the hotel and go for a good walk?

Check out Crema Gourmet Espresso Bar, a local favorite, at Curio at Faena Bazaar. Curio at Faena Bazaar is a one-of-a-kind retail destination, where you can discover premium shops filled with internationally coveted labels all while sipping your morning coffee.

How about a restaurant where only locals go?

Local favorites include Lemoni Café in Buena Vista, Sushi Erika in North Bay Village and Sanguich De Miami in Little Havana for the best Cuban sandwiches.

Best cheap eats in town?

Visitors can find the best cheap eats at Taquiza, a traditional Mexican taqueria crafting authentic tacos and street fare, at La Camaronera Seafood Joint and Fish Market or at La Sandwicherie Miami, which serves heavenly sandwiches.

Where to go if I want to see politicians making deals?

You might be able to catch a view of politicians at Joe’s Stone Crab or Versailles, two of Miami’s most celebrated restaurants.

Where’s a good spot to snap an Instagram-worthy photo?

“Gone But Not Forgotten” by Damien Hirst is an Instagram must. The 24-carat gilded wooly mammoth skeleton sits in the gardens of Faena Hotel Miami Beach.

Best neighborhood to take a four-hour stroll if I want to get acquainted with a more “authentic” side of the city?

Visit Wynwood Arts District. In just a few short years, the former warehouse district of Wynwood has become the arts hub of South Florida. It started with murals, street art and graffiti, encouraged, unconventionally, by the neighborhood’s early developers, and is now spawning a vibrant neighborhood teeming with outdoor art.

Faena Suite Bedroom
Faena Suite Bedroom
Nik Koenig

What’s the easiest way to get around town, in terms of transportation?

Uber and Lyft are the easiest ways to get around town.

What’s a cool architectural site that’s not mobbed with tourists?

Set in the heart of downtown Miami, The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is an architectural gem. Guests can see live performances, visual art installations and incredible public art.

What’s the best thing you can only get in Miami?

You can find the best stone crabs in Miami.

What’s the best thing you can only do in Miami?

Take a refreshing swim at the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables.

What’s something I can say or do to endear myself to locals?

Pick up after yourself at the beach.

What’s something that tourists tend to do that really annoys locals?

Using scooters on the sidewalks.

I’m looking for a low-key brunch. Where to?

For something low key, try Crema Gourmet Espresso Bar for great breakfast sandwiches, acai bowls and smoothies. 

What’s the one thing everyone forgets to pack? Or the one thing everyone should remember to pack when visiting?

Sunglasses are an essential part of everyday life here in Miami.

Finally, what’s the best book to read about the area before I come?

Assouline’s Miami Beach is one of my favorites.