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Florence

European Destinations, Italy

A Luxury Guide To Florence

May 13, 2016

The view of Florence from the famous bridge Ponte Vecchio [Copyright Vinita Marwaha]

The view of Florence from the famous bridge Ponte Vecchio [Copyright: Vinita Marwaha]

A long weekend in Florence conjures images of stunning Renaissance architecture, romantic walks by the River Arno and delicious Tuscan dishes. After recently spending time in Florence it’s certainly all this and more. Having travelled around Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia for the past 9 months I had been craving amazing Italian pasta, it being my favourite food. I wondered how many amazing meals of gnocchi with burrata mozzarella I could fit into four days in Florence..

When travelling we try to #LiveLikeALocal as much as possible, usually staying in guesthouses or B&Bs with friendly hosts that have been an integral part of our travel experience. Florence was no exception. We stayed at the stunning Palazzo Belfiore, in the Oltrano quarter of Florence. A neighbourhood as full of local Florentines as tourists. The location couldn’t be better and we loved being on a quiet street closed to traffic, only a 3 minute walk from the celebrated Ponte Vecchio bridge and 2 minutes from the majestic de’ Medici Palazzo Pitti. Upon arriving at Palazzo Belfiore we were welcomed warmly by the wonderful Federico. He, along with his sister Francesca, transformed seven apartments set in a 15th century noble house and opened them up for the world to visit. We entered the gorgeous Leone X apartment to find a lovely gesture of fine Tuscan Rosé wine and a delicious custom-blended tea, created especially for Palazzo Belfiore by a local tea and chocolate artisan Oro Nero (it even contains chocolate!).

The bedroom in the stunning Leone X apartment at Palazzo Belfiore [Copyright: Vinita Marwaha]

The bedroom in the stunning Leone X apartment at Palazzo Belfiore [Copyright: Vinita Marwaha]

Federico can even arrange a cooking class for you in your apartment, artisan workshops or programs for children. Our apartment certainly felt like home with thoughtful touches including a homemade recipe to make the Florentine classic “Pappa al pomodoro” along with the ingredients,  a fantastic salon hairdryer and hair straightener!

The spacious bedroom of our Leone X apartment at Palazzo Belfiore [Copyright: Vinita Marwaha]

The spacious bedroom of our Leone X apartment at Palazzo Belfiore [Copyright: Vinita Marwaha]

Each room is scented by a fresh oil home fragrance called AquaFlor Parfum that we had to go and get for ourselves!

The AquaFlor shop on Borgo Santa Croce, 6, Florence! [Copyright: Vinita Marwaha]

The AquaFlor shop on Borgo Santa Croce, 6, Florence! [Copyright: Vinita Marwaha]

Unique AquaFlor Parfum

Unique AquaFlor Parfum

 

A Gift of Oro Nero Chocolates!

A Gift of Oro Nero Chocolates in the Leone X Apartment!

We loved our stay in at Palazzo Belfiore and it’s a perfect way to feel like a local immersed in the Oltrano quarter of Florence! It’s truly #YourHomeAwayFromHome!

Steps away from Palazzo Belfiore is the Ponte Vecchio bridge leading to the famous Duomo, which we explored during a fantastic walking tour around the city! The Medici tour is fantastic and we loved learning about the Vasari Corridor. An enclosed elevated passageway was built and used by the Medici family in Florence to connect their two homes (or palaces!) as they felt insecure in public. It runs from Palazzo Vecchio, across the River Arno and on top of the ancient bridge, Ponte Vecchio, to Palazzo Pitti.

Part of the Vasari Corridor, an enclosed elevated passageway built and used by the Medici family in Florence to connect their two homes (or palaces!

Part of the Vasari Corridor, an enclosed elevated passageway built and used by the Medici family in Florence to connect their two homes (or palaces!)

 

Giotto's Campanile part of the complex of buildings that make up Florence Cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo in Florence, Italy. [Copyright: Vinita Marwaha]

Giotto’s Campanile part of the complex of buildings that make up Florence Cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo in Florence, Italy. [Copyright: Vinita Marwaha]

Apart from relaxing in our gorgeous apartment and walking around the streets of Florence, we spent the rest of our time enjoying traditional Tuscan dishes.

To celebrate a special occasion (we were celebrating our anniversary!) or just to enjoy a taste of quintessential Tuscan food, look no further than Hotel Brunelleschi. A spacious 4-star hotel nestled in a courtyard in the centre of Florence, giving rooms a magnificent view of Florence’s famous cathedral, Brunelleschi’s Duomo.

The stunning view of Florence's Duomo from Hotel Brunelleschi [Copyright: Vinita Marwaha]

The stunning view of Florence’s Duomo from Hotel Brunelleschi [Copyright: Vinita Marwaha]

Hotel Brunelleschi, immortalised in Dan Brown’s books ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and the recent ‘Inferno’, allows you the opportunity to stay in a Byzantine Pagliazza Tower from the 6th century and a medieval church. The interior however is anything but medieval. The hotel was fully refurbished in 2013 and combines luxurious features and stunning vistas to provide a memorable experience.

A beautiful 360 panorama of Florence from your room [Hotel Brunelleschi]

A beautiful 360 panorama of Florence from your room. It looks absolutely stunning! [Hotel Brunelleschi]

Exclusive Dr.Vranjes toiletries are provided at Hotel Brunelleschi

Exclusive Maison Vranjes toiletries are provided at Hotel Brunelleschi

The courtyard of Hotel Brunelleschi, Florence

The courtyard of Hotel Brunelleschi containing the outside terrace of the Osteria della Pagliazza restaurant

The Pagliazza Tower of Hotel Brunelleschi originated in the 6th century and was previously a prison. It even contains a private museum in the basement featuring Roman baths and artifacts. The museum is open to hotel guests, accompanied with a hotel member of staff.  The breakfast room of the hotel retains the original features of the building of St.Michael’s Church, including the baptism font. Culture, history and luxury for guests under one roof.

Roman baths and the basement of a Roman house in Pagliazza Tower of Hotel Brunelleschi

Roman baths and the basement of a Roman house in Pagliazza Tower of Hotel Brunelleschi

 

The Santa Elisabetta Restaurant in Hotel Brunelleschi

The Santa Elisabetta Restaurant in Hotel Brunelleschi

 

A stunning chandelier adorning the Breakfast Stemma Room

A stunning chandelier adorning the Breakfast Stemma Room [Copyright: Vinita Marwaha]

We were excited to try the traditional meets contemporary Tuscan menu at Osteria della Pagliazza, which featured a welcome drink of Prosecco ‘Valdo’ Doc Extra dry, a selection of cold cuts of meat, home made pasta, Tuscan soups, a bottle Santa Cristina, I.G.T, Farm Antinori wine and mineral water for 49 Euros. The hotel also has the Restaurant Santa Elisabetta resaturant, the ‘gourmet temple of Florentine gastronomy’, the Tower Lounge bar and a stunning Breakfast Stemma Room for guests. The Santa Elisabetta restaurant is the perfect spot for that special proposal or a romantic dinner.

 

A delicious selection of tuscan cold Meats and Cheeses [Copyright: Vinita Marwaha]

A Delicious Selection of Tuscan Cold Meats and Cheeses [Copyright: Vinita Marwaha]

The picturesque terrace of Osteria Della Pagliazza

The Picturesque Terrace of Osteria Della Pagliazza

 

Amazing Ravioli Fiilled with Eggplants, Salted Butter and Dried Tomato Sauce

Amazing Ravioli Fiilled with Eggplants, Salted Butter and Dried Tomato Sauce

 

An amazing anniversary lunch at Hotel Brunelleschi

An amazing Tuscan lunch at Hotel Brunelleschi

 

Our Secondi Piatti of Scottona’ Grilled Beef and Grilled Vegetables

Our Secondi Piatti of Scottona’ Grilled Beef and Grilled Vegetables

 

For Dessert, a Tasting of Three Flavors of Gelato Prepared Daily

For Dessert, a Tasting of Three Flavors of Gelato Prepared Daily

 

A wonderful end to our Tuscan meal (the teabag is made out of silk!)

A Wonderful End to our Tuscan Meal (the teabag is made out of silk!)

Our meal was incredible and Hotel Brunelleschi’s Tuscan menu is perfect to experience the best food that Tuscany has to offer with a luxurious touch.

Have you visited Florence? Let us know in the comments below!

Palazzo Belfiore, Via dei Velluti, 8, Firenze, Italy
+39 055 264415. Email: info@residencebelfiore.it

Hotel Brunelleschi, Piazza Sant’Elisabetta, 3, 50122 Firenze, Italy
+39 055 27370. Email: info@hotelbrunelleschi.it

All opinions expressed are my own.