Friday, 5 January 2018

Fabulous Florence

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

We wish all of you a lot of love, laughter and adventures in 2018!

Florence is always a good idea for everyone!

We really love Florence, or Firenze as the Italians call it, and when we realised it had been almost four years since we last visited this beautiful and historical town we immediately decided to go there again. But first we were off to celebrate New Year's Eve with friends in a beautiful villa in Marche on the east coast of Italy. So we took our white little Fiat and headed for Mogliano in the Marche region, Southeast of Tuscany. It was a beautiful three hour drive over the mountains and through Abruzzo national park.

On the road again, driving over the mountains towards Marche.

Our friends have just recently renovated an old farm house and turned it i to this stunning villa.

Marche is a beautiful area with rolling hills and amazing nature, so much more genuine and less touristic than Tuscany.

This is our new years team. Lots of good food, great wines, laughs and dancing when we welcomed 2018.

After three days in great company it was time to leave for Florence.

Another scenic three hour drive took us to Florence and wow was it great to be back! Florence is the capital city of the Tuscany region. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, but with approx 383.000 inhabitants it is still a small town with a very genuine feeling.

The iconic bridge Ponte Vecchio

Florence was a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of that era. It is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called "the Athens of the Middle Ages". A turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family and numerous religious and republican revolutions. From 1865 to 1871 the city was the capital of the recently established Kingdom of Italy. The Florentine dialect forms the base of Standard Italian and it became the language of culture throughout Italy due to the prestige of the masterpieces by Dante, Petrarch, Boccacci and Machiavelli.

Lots of master pieces of art were created in Florence

Legendary luxury hotel Helvetia & Bristol is located in an old palazzo.

We checked into the iconic luxury hotel Helvetia & Bristol (member of Leading Hotels of the World, Star Hotels) with perfect location right in the historical center, close to all sights as well as the high end shopping streets. Helvetia & Bristol is an old palace, "palazzo", in true Belle Epoque style filled with amazing art and antiquities. We were upgraded to a beautiful two-room suite with impressive interiors and a stunning Art Deco style marble bathroom complete with Jacuzzi. We absolutely loved our stay and the concierge service was world class.

Our beautiful two-bedroom suite.

Our suite was filled with art, textile wallpapers, chandeleirs and antiquities.

Belle Epoque style

Cicero loved both the suite and the friendly staff at this pet friendly luxury hotel.

There is so much to see and experience in Florence. If you love art and history this is really a treasure of a city! The Ufizzi museum and Palazzo Pitti exhibit some of the finest art collections in the world. There are amazing cathedrals and churches as well as great architecture everywhere you turn. Not to mention the very nice and posh shops.

The beautiful and very graphical cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, also know as the Duomo

 Cicero is checking out the sights of Florence!

Florence is a major tourist destination so if possible try to avoid peak season. And be aware that even in low season and even if you pre-book your entry tickets and get assigned an entry time slot for the major sights you are still in for a lot of queing and waiting. To get into the cathedral it can easily be a 2-3 hour wait and even with pre-booked tickets to the Ufizzi museum you will need to spend hours waiting in line to pick up your tickets and get in.

The best thing to do is just to walk around and enjoy the architecture and ambience.

Like all Italian towns Florence is pet friendly and you can bring your dog to all the restaurants, even the fine dining ones. It's really fun to explore a city with your four-legged family members.

Florence by night.

Buonasera Firenze!

The cathedral at night.

There are many great restaurants in Florence and it is good advice to to some research in advance as well as to make reservations to avoid being forced to eat at the toursist traps that you easily end up at if you just chose some place randomly. 

Amazing food at very chic JK Place


Enjoying a champagne lunch at the Guide Michelin restaurant Wintergraden by Caina (pets are also welcome).

INSIDERS GUIDE FLORENCE

Where to stay
- Helvetia & Bristol (elegant luxury hotel in belle epoque style with best possible location and great ambience)
- JK Place (trendy and chic boutique hotel with almost a New England feeling to the interiors)
- St Regis (iconic hotel with a quiet location and sophisticated style)
- Westin Excelsior (a big five star hotel with excellent service)
- Four Seasons (located in a lush garden a bit outside town)

Where to eat
- Il Santo Bevitore (very trendy bistro with a modern take on the Italian kitchen, excellent food and a really cool crowd).
- Wintergarden by Caina at St Regis (very nice fine dining experience with one Guide Michelin star)
- Il Borro (stylish restaurant with high ambitions, operated by the fashion house Ferragamo)
- JK Place Lounge (very cool and trendy lounge that serves excellent lunch and dinner in a stylish setting)
- Hostaria Bibendum (belle epoque style restaurant with a charming street terrace, excellent food in a sophisticated setting)
- Trattoria 13 Gobbi (very busy, very crowded, very genuine)
- Harry's Bar (the Florence version of the iconic Venice restaurant, a bit touristy but also fun and excellent food).

What to do:
- Walk the streets of Florence!
- Ufizzi museum
- Palazzo Pitti
- Galleria del Academia (where the famous statue of David is to be seen)
- Duomo cathedral
- Shop luxury brands in the brand shops located in the charming streets and alleys.
- Check out the Prada outlet outside town..

The stylish lobby of JK Place

The amazing glass ceiling of the winter garden at St Regis

The three of us sure love Florence!

Now we are back in Arpino and working on several exciting projects for our Red City PR clients from our Italian office.

Have a great start of 2018!
P&P