Nora, her husband Bruce, son Jason and daughter-in-law Kat are in Italy for two weeks and she’s sharing the experience with us all. So sit back and enjoy!
We arrived in Florence this morning after a long, and for this reluctant flyer, far too bumpy flight. A lot of stretches that felt like–in Jason’s words–riding on cobblestones.
But we’re here, BW and me and Jason and Kat.
Zipped through Customs and there was our van and driver. Loaded up the luggage and whisked off for a much, much shorter journey.
It’s been years since I’ve been here, one of my favorite cities, and my first true glimpse of it was the dome and part of the gorgeous wall of the amazing Santa Croce. It’s as beautiful as I remember, filled the windshield for one gasping moment before we wound around, onto the narrow streets between the wonderful old buildings. All the shops and restaurants, the people, another view of the church. We zip right along, and even in the night-flight daze, it’s all so incredible.
We’re delivered to the door of our hotel, greeted by the smiling doorman who takes us through a lobby washed with light, up wide stone stairs, and to reception. We’re greeted again, warmly, by the concierge. She speaks perfect English, and when we go by later to ask a question, she’s speaking easy, conversational Russian with another guest. This always amazes me, how so many Europeans are multi-lingual. It’s a skill Americans sorely lack.
We’ve booked two suites that can be closed off from the outside into one massive space. Only one is ready, but that’s no problem as immediate unpacking doesn’t appeal.
The concierge takes us up, giving us a little tour as we go–the pretty, sunny courtyard with its flowers and tables, the bar, the dining room, through to what’s called the music room as in the 16th century this building belonged to the pope’s treasurer, and this room was for music. She pointed out a series of panels on the wall, explains that the top three open, and there musicians would play for the people gathered below.
It’s a beautiful hotel that has the feel of a huge, wealthy house, beautifully appointed, full of charm and light and art.
The first suite opens to a large lounge with beautiful wood floors, richly colored sofas and chairs, old tables, pretty details and an awesome high, painted ceiling. From there you have a spacious parlor/office–yet another beautifully painted ceiling, then the bedroom with a HUGE bath.
I love me a huge bath.
We sort ourselves out a little, hydrate, then go out to walk, get some sun and air–and as it turns out shop.
We’re minutes from the piazza Santa Croche with the marvelous church, the big space, the crowds of people. And the leather. There’s nothing like the leather goods in Florence, and it doesn’t take long for me to snag a gorgeous bag–and enjoy the charm and conversation of the proprietor.
There are street vendors–soft, silky, colorful scarves, silly novelties, more bags or belts. In another few minutes, I have a couple Christmas presents and Kat has a pretty new skirt.
It’s lovely just to walk, so we aim for the river, just taking it all in. Shops, restaurants where people already sit at sidewalk tables, tempting displays of creamy gelato, crowds of people, so many languages, people zipping and winding through the pedestrians in tiny cars or motorbikes.
We get to the Arno, walk along the bridge, pass lines for various museums–those are for another day–and wander in the warm breezes to Ponte Vecchio.
This is very full of tourists, but worth the stroll along the shops with the sparkle of gold in the windows. Gold and leather–two must haves in Florence. We make our way down the sloping street, spot the gelato shop BW and I made good use of our last trip. That’s for after lunch, so we find a little trattoria. BW gets the biggest pilsner of beer I’ve ever seen. Kat gets a glass of red, I get a glass of white. Jason sticks with water. It’s pizza for me, and the first bite reminds me how fresh and gorgeous the food is here–everywhere here. We keep it light because there’s gelato coming.
It’s nice to just sit, watch Florence go by, drink wine, eat lovely food. Recharge before we start back, with that stop for gelato. Lemon for me–wonderfully tart, soft, fresh. It’s like eating chilled sunshine.
Back along the narrow streets, through the crowds. I see a man navigating through those crowds on a bicycle with his drycleaning slung over his shoulder.
Another shop, more presents off my Christmas list, then back where the other suite’s ready. It’s just lovely, just as beautifully appointed. We have a shared foyer, the big lounge we’ll also share, and our own personal spaces.
Time to unpack and take a much deserved nap.
Everyone’s still sleeping. I expect we’ll do very casual for dinner tonight as we’ve accomplished a whole bunch of a lot on this travel day. I believe I’m going to pop the cork on the complimentary bottle of champagne and not think about what we’ll do tomorrow until tomorrow.