I have visited Italy many times but somehow I’ve never ended up in Florence, so when I was approached by Marriott Hotels to explore it obviously I couldn't say anything else than yes.
Project was called “Be My Cicerone” and the idea was that to create a joint-venture between Italian and foreign content creator to highlight the peculiarities of Italian destinations. Honestly, I couldn't wait to go and explore Florence.
Our flight was from Vienna to Florence was short and smooth, operated by Austrian Airlines in a small plane Embraer E95. We took a taxi from the Airport and within couple of minutes we were at Westin Excelsior Hotel, place where we will stay for the next three nights.
Westin Excelsior Hotel is a beautiful luxury five star hotel in an old historical building overlooking Piazza Ognissanti. Hotel has around 150 rooms and obviously a presidential suite. Our room has views of river Arno and hotel feature and Fine Dinning restaurant with 360 Views at 6th floor that is also open for public.
After arrival and check in we had quick shower and met at the hotel lobby with Gerardo from Marriott Hotels and our local guide and content creator Lorenzo. There was no point to wait and we went straight to explore the streets.
Florence is a magical city, especially at the morning when sun is rising and everything is waking up. If you know me, then you know that I’am not an early bird, however I never miss a good sunrise. As it wasn't the main season, streets weren’t that packed even during the day, obviously is a touristic place so unless you get lost in tiny narrow streets don’t expect to walk alone. Main boulevards are surrounded by plenty of shops with food and shops selling leather goods obviously.
Most famous cathedral is Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore with beautiful Duomo designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. The exterior of the basilica is faced with polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink, bordered by white. Stunning piece of architecture.
The Basilica di Santa Croce is situated on the Piazza di Santa Croce, about 800 meters south-east of the Duomo. The site, when first chosen, was in marshland outside the city walls. It is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli and others.
The Ponte Vecchio, famous medieval stone bridge over the Arno River, noted for still having shops built along it, as was once common. Butchers used to occupied the shops, these days t tenants are jewellers, art dealers and souvenir sellers.
Nearby Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence. It overlooks the Piazza della Signoria with its copy of Michelangelo's David statue as well as the gallery of statues in the adjacent Loggia dei Lanzi.
Galleria degli Uffizi is a prominent art museum located adjacent to the Piazza della Signoria. One of the most important Italian museums, and the most visited, it is also one of the largest and best known in the world, and holds a collection of priceless works, particularly from the period of the Italian Renaissance. Unfortunately we haven’t got time to queue for tickets and will have to visit next time.
Palazzo Pitti is a vast, mainly Renaissance palace, situated on the south side of the River Arno, a short distance from the Ponte Vecchio. Surrounding Boboli Gardens are great place to relax and enjoy the views.
Last sunset we spend at Piazzale Michelangelo, the square, dedicated to the Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo was designed by architect Giuseppe Poggi and built in 1869 on a hill just south of the historic centre. In 1869, Florence was the capital of Italy and the whole city was involved in an urban renewal.
Last night we spend just across the road at The St. Regis Hotel where were invited to a Champagne Sabering with dinner. I’ve personally tried sober the bottle of Champagne before and it’s fun so I was looking forward. St. Regis is a wonderful and luxurious hotel and it was a fun night as several guest were invited to try to sober the bottle of Champagne including Kate and me. Luckily I’ve done it at the first try and Kate was doing well too :) . Dinner was delicious and I cannot event remember how many bottles of Veuve Clicquot landed on our table.
Florence is beautiful and our stay was very pleasant thank to Marriott Hotels, I’m sure we will come back and spend more time strolling the narrow streets. You can find all photos posted be me or Lorenzo on Instagram under #bemycicerone hashtag.
If you find your self planning a trip to Florence, don’t forget to check Westin Excelsior for a room and if not at least go and check their 360 rooftop restaurant and bar.