The weather is getting colder in NYC which has me dreaming of summer all over again. What can I say – I’m not happy unless sunglasses and a dress are a daily sartorial staple.
But – since we’ve got about another 8 months till those summer nights are back – I’m reliving the most steamy of days from my travels this year. So let’s take it back to July 2016 and the cobblestone streets of Florence, Italy. A place unlike any other and a destination with some of the best shopping, piazza’s and food I’ve ever experienced.
Five days was not nearly enough to enjoy all that Florence is – and certainly a day in Tuscany offered a mere taste of all the wine, olive oil and vineyard vistas but we did get to stay, see, eat and shop some unforgettable locales – ones should you find yourself in Firenze, are not to be missed.
View of the Ponte Vecchio from alongside the Arno river
STAY // We decided to forgo a hotel for a true Firenze experience and stayed at a gorgeous Airbnb on the Via Della Condotta mere feet from the Piazza della Signoria. The piazza is one of the biggest in Florence and is home to Neptune’s fountain and the Uffizi gallery. While we didn’t see too many hotels – a few we did see that are all centrally located and both moderate and luxurious include – Relais Uffizi, Hotel Pierre, Portrait Firenze, and Hotel Brunelleschi. We did also make reservations to have dinner at the unforgettable Il Salviatino a villa that overlooks the city and a perfect oasis outside the city complete with pool and sprawling gardens.
SEE // From the must see highlights of the Uffizi Gallery to the churches of Santa Croce and the iconic Duomo, we took a private tour to hit the hotspots and see as much of the historical sights as possible. We walked across the Ponte Vecchio marketplace visited leather shops which seemed to be on every corner and explored the iconic fashion houses (Gucci, Fendi, Prada and the Ferragamo museum) of Italy on the Via de’ Tornabuoni. One thing we didn’t get around to but was on my list was a visit to the Piazza Michelangelo. Known for its lookout points over the city many are said to head up for there for unmissable sunsets with a bottle of Chianti.
Streets of Florence
The Basilica di Santa Croce
TUSCANY // We agreed after one day that we could have spent a week in Tuscany. We took our third day for a taste of the wine region and booked a private tour with Tuscan Wine Tours. The family run business came with the best guide – Rebecca, an expat from the states who drove us into the Carmingano region of Tuscany to three wineries Capezzana owned originally by the famed italian Medici’s, a farm to table family run vineyard where we had a fully catered tuscan lunch and a newer vineyard for contrast. It was the best tour to sample different wines, learn the history of the region and come home with more than 30 bottles we shipped back to the states!
EAT // If there’s one thing we did plenty but not enough of is eat in Italy! From the Asparagus Carbonara at La Giostra to the Eggplant Parmigiana at Obica (they have a location in NYC!) to steak at Il Latini in the Piazza del Republica that came with a visit from Mama – the 85 year old owner herself we tasted some of the freshest, well prepared food. Which was certainly evident with simple pizza margheritas at Briscola and Gelato at Vivoli! One thing I couldn’t get enough of was Eggplant EVERYTHING! From pizza to parmigiana to casoule I had some version of the summer veggie at least once a day. Chef’s we did have the pleasure of speaking with shared that the philosophy behind Italian cuisine is to respect the seasonal foods, lean into their flavors and compliment them instead of what American’s do – “breed them all year round and alter them into something else!”
Dinner at La Cucina at Il Salviatino was also quite the treat. A farm to table experience and rated the best restaurant in Florence – while luxurious, was worth every penny. And with this view – who could beat a sunset dinner with Italian wine overlooking Firenze – pure heaven and a view I’ll never forget! #Nofilter.
For video – check out my Eurotrip diary here!