What’s in a Name?
JJ: We want to Talk about unforgettable Florence, I via memories and David from his fall trip.
DAVID: Florence. Firenze. I call it Fabulous! An ancient city that never grows old, Art everywhere (Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation), sculpture in the piazzas (Michelangelo’s David), churches galore (the Duomo), super restaurants, and a river runs through it – the Arno wandering under the Ponte Vecchio, most famous of Firenze’s amazing bridges.
JACKIE: I’ll never forget the splendid museums – the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia and the Bargello, not to mention the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens (we once walked a 5K through those Gardens)!
DAVID: My Hotel in Florence was the 5-Star Relais Santa Croce, a kiss away from one of the city’s most elegant piazzas and neighbor to the Santa Croce Basilica. A bit quieter than the crowded town center with all its spectacular attractions, and all just minutes away by the city’s best means of transportation – your feet. In the 18th century, the Relais Santa Croce was an elite residence; today it has retained its sumptuous furnishings and frescoed ceilings (lovingly restored) and has added creature comforts, all things tech. Concierge service 24 hours a day and SKY channel, free access also for programs on demand. The hotel shares the building with one of Italy’s most celebrated (and expensive) restaurants, Enoteca Pinchiorri where Jackie and I had lunch just before the Relais Santa Croce became a hotel. Thanks to its tip top Sales Manager, Marianna Toth, and General Manager Eugenio Rigo, I was happily housed in one of the 28 superb accommodations, a large corner room with the Basilica almost touchable from my windows. I love the fact that the rooms and suites are clean and contemporary, a sharp contrast to the antique elegance of the public areas. The Relais is a stellar member of the outstanding Baglioni Hotel group. Seek them out on your next trip to Italy.
JACKIE: And do sneak a peek on the Internet! Now David will tell you of my personal passion in Florence….
DAVID: I joined the throng of locals and tourists crossing the Arno River via the Ponte Vecchio, the only one of Florence’s bridges to escape bombing by the Nazis during WWII. It was built in the 14th century, and today it is loaded with gold and silver; dozens of the city’s designers, creators, and sellers of the precious metals reside in shops lining both sides of the bridge. My destination was Oltrarno, the other side of the river and a shop adored by my wife. It is the sales room of Angela Caputti, a lovely woman who works in her own precious material – plastics – fashioned into necklaces, bracelets, pins, earrings of charming designs and delectable colors. Over the years, Angela has sold me gifts for Jacqueline she prizes more than the diamonds and watches I have brought her.
JACKIE: I’m such a peasant, he does indulge, however I’m very content with the brilliant plastic art of Angela Caputti (Google her!)
DAVID: Now, about the food at Relais Santa Croce’s Ristorante Guelfi & Ghibellini. My dinner was supervised by Chef de cuisine Fabrizio Innocenti. It began with a flute of icy Pommery champagne and the amuse bouche, a carpaccio of beef. Next, a taste of two starters: a single steamed king prawn on a rosemary flavored cream of chickpeas. Second was a mound of spaghetti vongole (clams in their shells) with dried tomato sauce. More than a taste of two mains: chunks of tender white meat of chicken alongside Tuscan beans with sage. And then a fillet, the best part of the traditional T-bone Fiorentina (totally wonderful!) My wine was a 2008 Chianti Classico I closed with a selection of sorbetti – lemon, strawberry, peach, and passion fruit. My 2-hour dinner ended and I retired to the fumoir where I had a nightcap – Grey Goose on loads of ghiaccio (ice) with a fetta di arancia (slice of orange) and enjoyed one of my rare Cohiba cigars.
The only way to live!
JACKIE: In your dreams.
Don’t let him scare you, he can’t help himself.
So, here’s to the simple things …