Monday, 10 March 2014

Luxe Life | A Romantic Trip to Florence

I have just returned from a wonderful Birthday trip to Florence, Italy, where the weather was dry and mild, food was fabulous and the drinks flowed freely. Mr D and I flew out from London Heathrow and were treated to a spectacular view as we flew over the Alps... (now have a slight urge to go skiing!)

We had to fly into Pisa as there were no flights to Florence when we wanted but this was no hassle at all, hopped on the PisaMover bus to the train station and €20 for both of us and an hour later and we had arrived in Florence! It really was a lot simpler than we were expecting and pretty cheap to boot!

We arrived at the San Gallo Palace Hotel to drop off our bags and headed straight out. The hotel was just perfect for a city break, it was just 15mins walk from the centre (there was a bus service if you wanted to save your energy), the room was spacious, and clean, with an outside and inside seating area and a comfy bed...what more can you ask for? We walked in to town and found our bearings, with the help of a glass of prosecco and our first meal was pizza (I admit it, pizza is completely my favourite food, ever) washed down with some lovely prosecco (maybe there is a trend coming on for this holiday). Yum!

The next day we went and hit the shops, there is an amazing designer street in Florence called Via Tornabuoni where all the big names are, not to mention the flagship Gucci store and home to a cafe owned by Roberto Cavalli, called Cafe Giacosa, which has the perfect outside seating area to sit out and people watch...maybe with a glass of prosecco.

Duomo is hugely impressive and I just couldn't get enough pictures of it, we decided not to suffer the long queue to go inside as I had read that the inside was sparsely decorated and the big wow factor was the outside. From the square that Duomo sits on, there a other shopping streets which is where I stumbled across a Kiko Cosmetics store...WOW! I had a little splurge in there which I have posted separately about (click here).

For lunch on day two we had a meat platter (which was huge) and a glass of delicious red at a wine store called Obsequium which we stumbled across in the area South of the Ponte Vecchio (bridge). It was €10 each for a meat platter and a glass of wine, but the portions were so generous that it felt like a real bargain.

The high light of the day was going to Officina Profuma-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Nouvello, the oldest pharmacy in the world. The only way to describe this place was magical! It was like a dream world for anyone that loves their beauty products, we treated ourselves to a couple of colognes, but I really could have bought so much more! It was full of interesting lotions and potions that have been produced since they began production 400 years ago.

In the evening we were hoping to go to dinner at Obika, located on Via Tornabuoni, but it was super popular and they didn't have any tables so we had a wander and found a lovely little restaurant called xx which served mean ravioli and a spritz on the side. Of course before that we had treated ourselves to a wine stop in a little place called Panini Tartufati which was also located on the Via Tornabuoni.

Day 3 was Birthday Day! In the morning we went and soaked up some culture at the Uffizi Gallery (worth mentioning that many attractions aren't open on Mondays so plan your days well). The building of the gallery was stunning and it also offered some beautiful views of the surrounding landscape on the second floor. After working up an appetite walking around nearly 100 rooms of Uffizi, we managed to bag a table at Obika and we had a delicious sharing platter followed by (some more) pizza.

I have to admit to a little thing I have, it is widely known as a stationary obsession, usually found in children, and older children who haven't grown up yet! Florence has a number of beautiful and historic paper making stores so I spent the afternoon marching Mr D up and down the little streets of Florence seeking all these wondrous stores out.

It started to drizzle slightly so we went in search for (you guessed it) a little bar we could take shelter and we found this interesting bar called La Cite which was a cross of a bookstore/bar/cafe/music venue. We wiled away a couple of hours here chatting about the last couple of days and comparing to other cities we have been to.

Birthday dinner was a real treat, Mr D had booked a table at io Osteria Personale (which I have written in more detail here). This restaurant was located a little out of the way with a real understated frontage, you enter to a smart, trendy interior and you are treated to a taste sensation (I would definitely recommend the tasting menu!)

On the last day we only had the morning so we made a last minute dash back to one of the stores we had come across, called Alberto Cozzi, which is a 4th generation bookbinders also famous for their marbled paper, to buy a leather notebook with my name pressed on to the front...I am just a little bit in love with this notebook!

I had a fantastic time in Florence and I would say it is so worth a visit, a few things to take note of are; customer service isn't the best, maybe due to the fact that locals don't tip, but get used to service without a smile so that you aren't sat there bemused. Often in bars and cafes when ordering a drink there is food available to pick at for free or you are given some crostini with your drink. Lastly, if you are fit and able then walking is the best form of transport as much of the centre is restricted to vehicles and Florence is relatively easy to get around and places aren't too far away any way.

Anyone else with places you recommend in Florence or useful tips?

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