Aperitivo at Caffe Florian during Carnival…
Celebrating aperitivo with the classic Florentine Negroni in Gilli Firenze
How to spend a relaxed summer day in the heart of the Renaissance with a balance of culture, cafes, and a little bit of shopping…
8AM Waking up in my room with a view at the Savoy right on Piazza della Repubblica. My extra comfortable bed makes for a good night sleep and after a shower I have a bit of fruit from the breakfast buffet. I hold off having coffee so as to have it at Gilli across the street.
9:15AM Quick caffe at the counter at Gilli before heading out for some exploration. Lots of options, but I start with a visit to Santa Maria Novella to take in important Early Renaissance art work without the crowds. Masaccio’s Holy Trinity marks the beginning of the Renaissance, and the extensive work of the Tornabouni Chapel has work by Ghirlandaio, Da Vinci’s teacher, and showcases meticulously painted frescos on the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Some of the best examples if Italian painting of the era are in this bejeweled church and without the long queues like at the Uffizzi gallery.
11:30AM No trip to Florence is complete without a stop in the Farmacia de Santa Maria Novella to pick up some of their one of a kind forest scented potpourri and a bottle of their Acqua Colonia fragrance, the original perfume made for Catherine de Medici.
1PM A leisurely walk over to the Mercato Centrale where the upper floor has many lunch options on offer. Several different food counters, wine bars, food shops are temptations for the best of Italian food choices. A nice truffle panini or a slice of pizza, salad, fresh cooked vegetables or plates of pasta.
2:30PM A bit of shopping starting at the Via Tornabuoni and surroundings. Scarves at Faliero Sarti and decorative paper gifts at Il Papiro make great souvenirs.
4:30PM When the heat and crowds gets to be too much, sitting on the terrace of Rivoire with views over the Piazza della Signoria to have and iced coffee or an iconic Negroni makes for a great tonic. Linger a while and take in La Dolce Vita.
6PM A spiritual visit to San Miniato al Monte to listen to the monks chant vespers is a rare and moving experience. After the service, take the short walk to Piazzale Michelangelo to look over one of the best views over Florence in the entire city.
7:3oPM Time for a glass of fine wine aperitivo at Le Volpe e l’uva in Oltrarno, one of the best wine bars in Florence before walking down the road to have Tuscan cuisine at the lively Santo Bevitore.
10PM A short and easy walk across the river I make my way back to the Savoy. Pausing briefly on the Ponte Santa Trinity to observe the Ponte Vecchio. Back at the Savoy I enjoy a nightcap glass of grappa at Irene before tumbling back into my cloud like bed and the enjoy the sweetest of dreams.
The classic Negroni is making a comeback as the chic drink to be imbibing.
There is something about ordering a Negroni that announces the fact that you are a connoisseur of the finer things in life. Bartenders respect you when you order it and it exudes sophistication.
Made from 3 equal parts of Campari, Sweet Vermouth, and Gin it was created in Florence in 1919 at the Caffe Casoni (now Caffe Giacosa by Cavalli). As the story goes, Count Camillo Negroni wanted something a bit stronger than the then popular Americano drink and so the bartender substituted the soda water of the Americano with gin and a legend was born.
These days the torch of where to find the Negroni ‘originale’ has been passed on to Caffe Rivoire on Piazza della Signoria and there are some very good ones at Gilli on Piazza della Republica. Bartenders in the know will direct you to the St. Regis hotel where they have prepared vats of negronis ready to pour. There are also variations on the classic theme with a Negroni Sbagliato being quite popular, substituting the gin with prosecco. Whatever your choice, enjoying one is the height of fashionable cocktails.
Christmas gifts for the stylish traveller
When it comes to gifts I’d like to give or receive here are a few of my favourite things. For travel or inspired by travel…
For the gorgeous beauty traveller:
I have just discovered Charlotte Tilbury and there is nothing in her make up line I don’t love. She even has an eye shadow palette called ‘Dolce Vita!’ But the item I love to take with me on trips (and I will be giving them to my close girl friends this Christmas) is her Film Stars on the Go compacts which consist of two colours, one for the eyes and one for the lips. They are cream colours meant to be put on with just your finger, there are 4 duo palettes to chose from, I got Some Like it Hot. Great to have in your carry on to freshen up -easily- on any long haul flight.
For the cafe lover:
Jura has coveted top of the line coffee makers that grind beans and brew up anything from a ristretto to an americano. The trouble was they were very big machines and quite pricey. Well finally they have made an espresso maker a bit more accessible in size while still keeping all of the luxury of its predecessors. The Ena Micro 1 and the Impress A5 can easily fit into your tiny European flat kitchen, keeping it stylish while serving up cafe style espresso at home. Of course you can still go to the cafe afterwards and have a glass of wine.
For the connoisseur of good taste:
The Life Negroni This is a fabulous book for those who love the fabulous life. Part in depth knowledge on all things Negroni, stylish places where to drink them, knowledge on the best gin and the history on vermouth and Campari, it is also a book about style, Italian lifestyle and La Dolce Vita.
For the Fashionable techie:
The Apple iWatch may not be be everyone’s cup of tea… That is until Hermes came on board to take it from geek toy to fashionista accessory by adding a choice of three of their popular leather wrist bands as options to go with the latest trend. And with all the great travel apps soon your ticket will be right on your wrist. NOW it is something worth wearing! and I may just have to have it!
For the perfect Host or Hostess:
I love giving a candle. It might seem easy or cliche, but there is always something timeless and polished about giving a scented candle. There are many to choose from and you can never go wrong with one from Diptyque, but this year I found a beautiful candle both inside and out! Italian designers Dolce&Gabbana have released a special gift line for Christmas among which is a gorgeous luxury candle painted in their traditional Sicilian cart prints. A bit of a Sicilian souvenir. This candle gift will really stand out!
For the On the Go but Still Stylish traveller:
Nails Inc have released a spray on nail polish that is easy and fun to use. The aptly named Paint Can nail varnish is available in two colours: pink and silver it is a great stocking stuffer. Not to mention great item to pack and travel with.
For a Good Cause:
Jewelry designer Monica Vinader has designed a special edition of her iconic cord and rose gold bracelet to help and promote Women for Women International. The #SheInspiresMe friendship bracelet is an easy and stylish way to promote a good cause with all profits from sales going to the Women for Women charity.
Tuscany’s luxury Hotel Il Pellicano’s stylish twist on the Negroni