Our trip to Florence and Rome reminds us that, in many ways, the world is small.
In Florence we stayed at the Lungarno Hotel, in its iconic location overlooking the River Arno and the famous Ponte Vecchio. The Lungarno Collection is an exquisite hotel group owned by the Ferragamo family, who is known for their impeccable style and aesthetic, not only in the world of Fashion, but in their hotels as well.
Our first evening, we dined with our dear friend at the Gallery Hotel Art, also part of the Lungarno collection. The hotel’s Fusion Bar & Restaurant was the city’s first fusion eatery. The Florentine people are deeply passionate about their food (and we certainly see why), so it was a bold move to introduce cuisine from another area of the world and incorporate it with the already world-renowned fare. Today, Fusion is one of the city’s hottest restaurants, a testament to how the area’s tastes are evolving, and how these days, global influences can even permeate a town as rooted in tradition as Florence.
The next day, we toured the city with a lovely local friend who happens to have a master’s degree in Art and Architectural Studies. She treated us to a tour steeped in thoughtful commentary that included a visit to The Duomo, Florence’s breathtaking cathedral.
Our friend and guide also took us to Il Papiro, a charming paper shop that’s been making hand-decorated paper inspired by the traditions of Tuscany for centuries. We realized that, coincidentally, this was the very store that supplied us with the custom paper we were using to create simple yet elegant invitations for our friends’ wedding.
Afterwards, we stopped at a delightful wine cellar for an aperitivo, followed by a lovely lunch. We spent the afternoon with a friend and colleague who treated us to unique site visits. We toured palaces and private terraces which can be privatized for events and dinners. Each of these locations offered an opportunity to view Florence from a privileged insider’s perspective.
That evening, we had cocktails at Villa Cora, a refurbished villa outside of the city center and then had a lovely dinner with friends. It was Valentine’s Day, and while we watched the couples around us, we laughed, talked and toasted to the love of friends across continents and oceans.
The next day, we traveled to Rome, where we stayed at Hotel Eden, a new edition to The Dorchester Collection. It’s perfectly located in the Old City and about to undergo an extensive renovation. The property is already gorgeous and the end result will be spectacular. It is just like polishing a precious stone.
After walking around the neighborhood, we dined at La Terraza, the rooftop restaurant of the Hotel Eden, and were treated to a spectacular view of the city. We were impressed with the establishment’s thoughtful, relaxed hospitality. Our waiter offered helpful recommendations and went above and beyond to put us at ease. When asked about his preference between two dishes, he laughed and said that he wouldn’t allow us to make such a tough decision, but rather would speak with the chef about preparing portions of both for us. “I’m not going to tell you that you should have this, but I will tell you that you must.” He paired each course with the perfect glass of wine, and very kindly thought to offer us the day’s newspapers, as well as an extra table so we could comfortably catch up on the news as we ate. This easy hospitality made us feel right at home and as though we were dining with friends.
The next day, we took a Vespa tour of the city’s highlights. It was thrilling to zip through the streets of the Eternal City, weaving through cars and foot traffic to gain access to the city’s monuments and treasures. With our guide, we scouted out the perfect location for our friend’s engagement proposal in the coming weeks. With a sweeping view, and Rome beneath their feet, how could one not say “yes” to a declaration of love as enduring as the city itself?
That night, we dined with Hotel Eden’s general manager and sampled the chef’s soon to be debuted menu. It was a delightful meal, and we both agreed that we were so fortunate to get to spend an evening dining with our dear friend. As we sipped our after dinner drinks, we marveled at how having close friendships like these make this big world feel a bit smaller.
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