October 13, 2010

our trip in pictures + words // tuscany + florence

Ciao miei amori.

This post is all about our time spent in parts of Tuscany and Florence. Without a doubt, Tec and I enjoyed our travels here more than we could have imagined. Time seemed to move a bit slower, the wine flowed like honey (or maybe olive oil, in this case...), the food was flawless and the land was outrageously beautiful.

Tuscany / Arezzo
L O D G I N G : Villa Fontelunga

Upon arriving in Italy, we drove to the Tuscan town of Arezzo. Here we stayed at the picturesque Villa Fontelunga. Oh. My. Gracious. I don't have the vocabulary or the literary skills to express how much we adored the time we spent there. Philip and Paolo run this villa with kindness and care and we felt welcomed the moment we arrived. Here are some of the highlights of Fontelunga: surrounded by olive groves, gorgeous pool, incredibly private and quiet, deliciously light dinner prepared on site with locally grown and prepared foods, honesty bar (just mark down what you take from the fully stocked kitchen bar), outdoor fireplace and seating... Truly, I can not say enough about the loveliness of of this venue. Looking for a honeymoon local or a spot for your destination wedding? This is your spot, sister. Trust.

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Tuscany / Gaiole in Chianti
L O D G I N G : Badia a Coltibuono
"The Abbey of the Good Harvest"

After a few nights in Arezzo, we traveled west about an hour to Badia a Coltibuono, located in Gaiole in Chianti, Sienna. Originally used as an Abbey, this structure dates back nearly a thousand years! Getting here was tricky (since not much in these parts of Italy seem to have an actual address you can plug into your GPS), but once we wound our way around the narrow roads and seemingly arbitrary signs, we arrived at the top of a gorgeous expanse of land and a sprawling complex. We weren't sure what to expect when we arrived at the medieval abbey, but we were completely blown away by what lied inside the formidable gates. Once inside, you're greeted with courtyards, fountains and the most lovely garden I've ever seen. And Coltibuono is true to their namesake--they have and still do practice sustainable and organic methods of growing their fruits, vegetables and even in their vineyards. The rooms were spacious and very tidy, though not cozy or romantic. But the gardens, the grounds and the history of this location make up for any shortcomings of the room's appeal.

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L O D G I N G : Black5 / N4U

Florence. Ahhh, Florence. This was our last stop in Italy before we drove back into our little home-away-from-home in La Colle sur Loup. Florence was incredible and so different from our time spent in Tuscany. I'm not sure what I expected, but for those of you who don't know, Florence is a big city! Ha. The two things I enjoyed most about Florence were walking up to the Piazzale Michelangelo (from the Piazzale you see a panoramic view of Florence) and seeing Michelangelo's David. Both were "take your breath away" moments for me.

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Now onto our lodging in Florence. I hesitate to say anything about where we stayed because I'm from the school of if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. But if my cautionary tale saves one of you dearlings from walking in the rain with all of your luggage, then I'm glad I said something. (And no, this story isn't as dramatic as I've set it up to be.) We initially made reservations at N4U, but upon schlepping our suitcases a mile from where we parked and up five flights of stairs, we were told that they'd overbooked and that we would be staying at their sister suits, Black5. Oh, and did I mention it was raining? So fast forward five more blocks and two more flights of stairs, and we were at Black5. The waiting room gave off a very modern feel, but our room was out of a Motel 6 from the '80s. Plus, we'd booked N4U because of its location--three blocks from the Duomo. Now we were further away and staying in pretty bad accommodations. We stayed the two nights we'd already booked because I didn't want to cause a stir. (Dumb, I know. But I'm a people pleaser.) Anyway, all this to say, if you decide to stay at N4U while in Florence--great! Just confirm that's where you'll actually be staying...

Here's to safe travels and spending time with those you love.


Whitney said...

Holy. Cow.
How beautiful!
Italy is definitely my dream adventure, one day...one day.
(I getcha on the people pleaser thing...I'm the same way)

Celeste said...

I think it's some weird Italian thing where you book with them and bring all of your stuff up the million flights of stairs just for them to tell you that you're actually in a room a few blocks away...

BUT other than that, I hope you loveloveloved Tuscany! I think that compared to the other big cities, Florence is relatively small but there's so much to do that it seems massive!

Lauren said...

My best friend and I went to beautiful Florence in July and rented an apartment from Gianna (www.sleepinginflorence.com) and COULD NOT have had a better experience.

We stayed in one of the San Lorenzo apts. Not only was the location perfect, but we were met by her friend/apartment keeper Gabriella who could not have been more welcoming. She even gave us a delicious local restaurant recommendation.

I HIGHLY recommend staying with these ladies. You most definitely will not be overbooked here. I can't say enough nice things about them.

Miriam said...

I love that you're posting so many beaauutiful photos for us to feast upon! Europe sounds simply loverly. Hope things are wonderful for you both this Autumn day!

Kimia Kline said...

let's trade summers. :)