While on a complete high from the proposal in Lake Como, we scurried down in the direction of Florence. Neither of us had been there before and we heard it was an amazing city, so we were pretty excited to see what all the buzz was about. We arrived at our hotel a little late due to getting lost in Milan on the way down (and being a bit starry-eyed) but we finally made it. The hotel manager at Riva Lofts ensured someone was waiting up to see us to our space (thank you, Alice!).
Exploring this city with so much history and art was fascinating. Of course we hit all the popular spots, the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, the Ponte Vecchio, and saw the David, which was so much more magnificent and enormous than I ever had thought it would be!
Our dinners were spent in the Oltrarno quarter, which any local will tell you is the *only* place to go out for food. We had a lovely bistecca alla Fiorentina our last night there at Il Guscio, hidden on a quiet street.
Since we love the markets, we had to hit the Mercato Centrale, where we picked up some dried pasta, olive oil and almost 3 pounds of grana padano cheese to take back with us. yum! The most delicious sandwich we had on the entire trip was in the Mercato building where one of the stands sold prosciutto, pecorino and smoked tomato paninis. We took them over to the steps by the Basilica di Santa Maria Fiore and gobbled them up, stopping only to snap a quick photo before I took the last bite.
A true delight that I would recommend to any couples traveling to Florence is to spend some time in the Officina Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. Dominican monks began concocting herbal remedies here in the 13th century and today, they still sell traditional elixirs along with more contemporary skin-care products, oils and perfumes. Once inside, you’re in another world. You feel the history and smell the strong, sweet fragrance of flowers and essential oils wafting through the rooms. And needless to say, it’s a pretty romantic place to go with a lover.
I had been searching high and low for a good cooking class to take in Italy and came across Cooking in Tuscany from the Italian Visits website. We had a great time learning the proper techniques for making the perfect noodle dough, spinach ravioli, Tuscan crostini, risotto, pistachio chicken, zucchini flan and ricotta torta.
One of the highlights of our time in Florence was the “hotel” where we stayed. Riva Lofts was nothing short of amazing. Rustic, Italian countryside chic on the outside with a sleek, modern interior accented by antique decor touches. If we could live here, we would..it was the most unique and coolest hotel we stayed in the entire trip (and probably in our lives). Plus the staff was incredibly helpful, recommending restaurants and routes to take through town. They make their own delicious olive oil which you can purchase at the hotel. Plus they have a collections of cute bikes that you can borrow, which we did one evening and rode through the streets of Florence at night.
They also hold wedding receptions at the hotel. The manager, Alice, (who is also the hotel architect’s daughter) sent me some photos of a past wedding..
Here are a few Instagram snaps of the stylish and simple breakfasts we had there. The bottom two photos are some pretty bottles we came across in one of the shops (that might slightly influence the style of our wedding invitations?), and some delicious fresh fruit puree popsicles near the Palazzo Vecchio.
Buonasera! Stay tuned for our trip through the Tuscan towns of Lucca, Pisa, San Gimignano, Siena and Saturnia!