Lisa and I spent the hottest 24 hours of our lives in Florence this summer overseeing the early stages of our AW handbag collection in creation.
In between of manufacturing and leather sourcing meetings we managed to squeeze a humid fast track tour of the city and meet up with one of our faves @donnamaylondon for dinner.
A post dinner stroll along the Ponte Vecchio with our mates @donnamaylondon and the lovely Sarah.
If you haven’t been to Florence, book now. It’s beautiful. The atmosphere is of an entirely different quality to anywhere else I’ve visited in Italy, none of the fast-paced hard-edged grit and fashion of Milan nor the frenzied pace of Rome and it’s tourism. Florence is for romantics, for lovers of literature, poetry and art. Since studying Browning’s works for A Level English Literature, Florence has been on my bucket list… I can’t believe it’s taken me over 20 years to actually visit… maybe I can blame it on the unplanned pregnancies and whirlwind of family life that took my mind away from my love of poetry… I suppose the cycle of nappy changing, school runs, loading and unloading the dishwasher, homework help, cooking, cleaning, working, unloading that bloody dishwasher again…. can do that to you.
But when I finally got to Florence this year I knew I had to find Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett’s house, their safe haven, the place they eloped to after they secretly wed without the support of their parents. The romance of their story has always inspired me. To follow your heart, to put love at the centre of your life, it enchants me.
Elizabeth Barrett's Florentine home, above.
Anyway, poetry isn’t for everyone, but I think Florence is. Here’s a quick lowdown of where we managed to visit in the limited time we had in the city:
The Ponte Vecchio - like stepping back to medieval Italy, this arched bridge is lined with shops on each side, now home to jewellery boutiques. When my eldest was born my parents bought him an Italian coral anklet to wear, it is a tradition in Italy for newborns to wear coral to keep them safe. With my son's eighteenth birthday approaching, I knew that I wanted to buy him another piece of coral jewellery, a symbol of my love for him and a hope to keep him safe into his manhood. I bought him the perfect piece on the Ponte Vecchio, as the shopkeeper boxed it up for me I felt so emotional, the passing of eighteen years in a heartbeat.
The Ponte Vecchio at night.
Piazza Del Duomo - Just breathtaking. Go at night and prepare to weep. As you emerge from the narrow warren of streets that surround the Cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore, all of a sudden it is there. The scale of it, the colour, the silence and the stillness that emanates from this building is awe inspiring. The peachy pink tones of the facade give such a romantic atmosphere, this is a place for love... and the photos do not do it justice.
Via De Tornabuoni - For luxury shopping, or window display gazing, we loved this street, again with none of the brashness associated with Milan, these high end designer stores sit regally yet understated on this elegant avenue. Stop for coffees or a glass of Italian red, Lisa and I were mesmerised watching a florentine woman, breeze into the delicatessan we were sweating it out in, order a glass of red, drink it airily at the counter and then saunter back out... oh to be that cool!!
Hotel 24 Hours - we stayed here and loved it... the hotel is split into two parts: heaven and hell - we were in heaven obviously!! Really well situated and within 5 minutes of the river and shopping streets, this is a fun, alternative hotel which was also good value for money.
Food - eat as much as you can as often as you can!! We had amazing antipasti, nocerrella olives, mozarella, fruit custard tartlets and lots of chilled wine... totally delicious!
Places that we missed but will be making sure we get to next time:
The Boboli Gardens