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Trip to Italy: Florence

I want to first thank everyone for their heartfelt sympathy emails about the passing of Lynn Jeffress.

After my three-day stay in Milan in early December, I took the train to Florence. I hadn’t been to Florence in over 35 years and my only recollection was the Ponte de Vecchio.

Approaching the center in a taxi from the train station I started to get in touch with the beauty of the city again. My friend who I stayed with in Milan also lived in Florence last summer for two months and came with me for the day to show me around.

We had lunch at her favorite spot La Managere, a sprawling complex with a restaurant, café, flower shop and home boutique. The café served lighter, healthier food, some of it organic, a nice respite from the calorie laden pizza, pasta, and veal Milanese I over consumed in Milan.

I was torn between visiting the famous museums and artworks-The Uffizi, The David and The Accademia or just walking the streets and exploring, since I only had two and a half days in Florence. I opted for exploring and I am happy I did. The weather was superb, sunny with postcard blue skies and not too cold. I did get one museum in, the Pitti Palace, the former home of Marie de Medici, who became the Queen of France when she married King Henri IV in 1600. After the assassination of her husband, the day before she was crowned Queen, she had a new palace built, the Palais Luxembourg, which she referred to Palais Medici. She instructed her architect Salomon de Brosse to make the Palais Luxembourg look like the Pitti Palace, so it reminded her of her former home. I was curious to see the similarities but after 30 minutes I decided it was too beautiful outside and daylight hours were too short to be indoors. I strolled through the Boboli Gardens behind the palace breathing in the refreshing grass scented air and admired the architectural shrubs which were perfectly manicured, creating a cascading maze climbing a steep hill.

I walked over the Ponte de Vecchio and could see why it had stuck in my mind all these years. The hue of the ochre and red facades of ancient palaces and the archways of the other bridges reflecting on the river was breathtaking.

The next two days I meandered all over Florence spending most of my time on the less touristy side of the river opposite the Duomo. I photographed countless doors, building facades, piazzas and gardens.  

I discovered an area with artisanal boutiques where many of the owners made their designs right on the premises. I was fascinated with a woman who was hand painting a map in her storefront studio and I spoke at length with a clothing designer who showed me he atelier in the back of the boutique. I met a very special calligrapher and graphic artist Betty Soldi who had the most enchanting home boutique, & Company de Betty Soldi & C. Sas. Many of the items in the shop featured her delicate calligraphy including stationery, initialed mugs and other ceramics. She showed me her design studio in the back of the shop and also told me she was part owner and the designer for two hotels located in former palaces.

One other highlight was the Great Synagogue of Florence, one of the largest synagogues in Europe, built in 1882.

Next week I will share with you the fantastic hotels I stayed in.

If you go
La Managere -Via de Ginori, 8, 50123

Cibreo Trattoria Via dei Macci, 122R

Lo Sdrucciolo Sdrucciolo de' Pitti, 8/red, 50125

Tiziana Alemanni Couture Sdrucciolo Dé Pitti 20 r – 50125

& Company de Betty Soldi & C. Sas Via Maggio, 47, 50125

Atelier C Via del Fossi 33, 50141

Arte de Ciompi – great handmade stationery & paper shop- Via Cerretani, 18e

Boboli Gardens

La Managere



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This post first appeared on I Prefer Paris, please read the originial post: here

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Trip to Italy: Florence


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