Peaceful countryside and bustling city life combined with great pizza and prosecco, Florence is a must-visit during your Tuscan vacation. Designer Sunaina Khera shares her recent experience in the Italian city.
All work and no play can make anybody a rather dull girl!
My work schedule does not allow me to travel as frequently as I would like to, so when I do get to visit a new place, I get very excited. Earlier this year I finally travelled to Italy, a place I’ve been meaning to cross off my list for a while now.
Even though I visited a couple of cities but if I had to pick a favourite, it would be the city of flowers, Florence.
As a birthplace of the Renaissance movement, the city is the perfect combination of art, design, food, and culture.
Under the Tuscan winter sun
The commute was rather fuss-free. Florence is a fairly easy train ride away from Venice and our hotel was barely a 15-20 minute taxi ride from the train station.
We had decided to stay in a centuries-old restored hotel that was formerly an aristocratic residence with a perfect view of the historic Boboli Gardens, Villa Cora.
Adding to the quaint flavour was the fact that my trip was right after New Years' so the Christmas decorations were still up. It made a rather empty and quiet hotel feel so lively and festive.
But, this property is worth a visit by itself. It is without a doubt one the most luxurious stays I have experienced. The staff is very kind and hospitable. The villa also has a rather efficient free shuttle service that drops its guests directly at the Duomo.
With modern amenities and a Tuscan countryside vibe, I loved the location because you get the best of both worlds- peace and tranquillity at the hotel and the hustle and bustle of the city.
Embrace the slow life
While Florence may be famous for the beautiful Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, the galleries, and the museums (and those are all highly recommended if you’re visiting the heart of renaissance), but I particularly enjoyed just walking around the city, sipping wine and eating pizza at the outdoor cafes.
I am all about embracing the slow life and forgetting the hectic work schedules when I am travelling. There is a certain kind of calm in just relaxing and breathing in the spirit of a new city, especially when you are visiting a beauty such as Florence.
I spent most of my days walking around without a purpose or an itinerary and ended up discovering interesting corners like a local. This spontaneous way to travel suits me well.
Some spontaneous (some planned) recommendations
If the slow life scares you, I must tell you that in a city like Florence, there are plenty of things to keep you busy… sights you wouldn’t mind seeing no matter how tired you are. So, here are a few of my spontaneous and some planned haunts:
It’s the perfect place to just walk around, get some sun and views. It makes you take a moment to appreciate how beautiful the world can get.
Piazzale Michelangelo Point
I think to go in the evening to watch the sunset was a wise decision because it is usually crowded with tourists. There was a sense of calm in the air and the view was breathtaking.
Piazza Della Repubblica
I recommend taking the carousel ride no matter how old you are. It's even more fun after two glasses of wine. There are also some great restaurants in this square, it’s a perfect way to end your day- just sit in the restaurant (the seating usually faces the square so you can enjoy the view) with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and enjoy the music.
Craft cocktail and Aperitivo Tour at the Piazza Della Repubblica
I recommend this if you have an adventurous palette. Apperetivo is known as the Italian Happy Hour. You get to walk around the city and experiment with wines, prosecco and cocktails paired with a variety of finger foods.
Via de’ Tornabuoni
This street is like an Italian catwalk of sorts. It houses some of the biggest fashion houses in the world and while this is the go-to haunt for luxury shopping, I always like to visit streets that houses local designers and boutiques.
Florence = Food heaven
Italian cuisine is my favourite in the world, so it’s no surprise that Florence was my food heaven. The Florentine people truly know their food and wine, in and out. I can vouch that they do not disappoint.
However, in an effort for a greater good, I must make a PSA that I don’t have the most experimental of palettes, so I stuck to my basic Margherita and pesto pasta (Can you blame me?), but there are plenty of options for everyone. Here are some of the restaurants I tried and each one was better than the last:
Osteria dell’ Enoteca
Cafe Concerto Paszkowksi- a personal favourite for coffee and dessert at the end of the day.
Grom- for the Gelato
Giuseppe Verdi once said- You may have the universe if I may have Italy.
It’s hard to understand this statement until you actually visit this place. I would also pick Florence over the entire universe in a heartbeat after my visit. It was without a doubt one of the most enriching experiences I have had and I can only hope that I am fortunate enough to go there again!
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