Abercrombie and Kent (a wonderful luxury tour operator) invited me to spend a weekend in Florence seeing some of the hotels they worked with while getting a feel as to what the company is all about.
A week before my departure date I received a lovely ticket wallet with my e-ticket plus a very detailed booklet which included my itinerary, inclusions, exclusions, useful contacts plus much more. So off I went early on a Saturday morning to Heathrow to meet my group at the gate before boarding our BA flight to Pisa. With BA as usual you are meet by a well-groomed professional greeting and a very clean plane with plenty of leg room and seat space. The flight over to Pisa was perfect all bar the last 30 minutes due to flying through a storm and actually being hit by lighting, which may I add is very common occurrence. Due to the storm, winds and lighting strike we actually could not land in Pisa (we had two attempts) and so was diverted to Rome. I would like to say that I cannot speak highly enough of the BA crew that were working on that flight as although they did not seem concerned, you could tell that many passengers were scared and not coping very well with the turbulence. The Crew dealt with the whole situations so professionally and even when we turned up in Rome they laid on coaches to transfer all the passenger to their original destination. Luckily I was on this occasion also being looked after A&K (Abercrombie & Kent) who to reduce the travelling time arrange for us to get the train from Rome Airport to the city and then on to Florence. If this was your holiday and you were not with an actually representative from the company all you would have to do is once you had landed was to use the contact numbers in the book to discuss your options or to call me being your travel Counsellors to help you out, a definite perk when problems arise.
Anyway, an unplanned train journey and a later arrival in Florence was soon washed away with a glass of bubble’s on arrival at the Savoy hotel. A lovely introduction from the management a quick check in and then a freshen up before a lovely hosted meal from the Savoy to show the wonderful Menu that is on offer to guests, Very simple Italian food but cooked very well and a lovely relaxed setting, perfecto! While we were enjoying ourselves the lovely Chiara A&k’s local representative was juggling the itinerary so we could fit everything in.
An early start for Sunday so we could have a brief tour with a local guide of Medieval Florence before having a hotel inspection of the Brunelleschi a lovely 4 star hotel just off from the Piazza della Repubblica, that features a circular Byzantine tower and a private museum in which is conserved the architectural ruins discovered during the restoration of the hotel. we then moved on to the Savoy the hotel, I was staying in for their hotel inspection. It’s a beautiful hotel and enjoyed being a guest of the hotel it’s style with a high standard in a luxury but relaxed style and the rooms are of a generous size, I’d say the walk in wardrobe was bigger than my bathroom!! The hotel is located next to the Duomo and within walking distance of The ponte Vehccio, Boboli gardens and the Uffizi Gallery.
After the two hotel inspection we headed out to Chiantu region to a wonderful place called Podere Campriono for a cooking demonstration (I helped make the fresh pasta) that you then eat alongside the wine tasting in the family cellar for me this was a real high-light of my stay and I would say if you had a special celebration with friend you could go and experience this and stay the night as the family have rooms and then move on to Florence to enjoy the city. Once leaving lunch fully and tipsy we made our way back to Florence to visit an artisan perfume where we had a lesson on the essence of perfume which was very interesting. Do you know what Ambergris is…? After a fun packed day we had time to freshen up before enjoying more Italian food. But after such a busy day I was very ready for my bed.
Last day in Florence was extremely special for many reasons. What was in the itinerary was a special access to the Contini Bonacossi Collection, a hotel inspection of the Four season and a quick snack before our flight. What actually happened was we did gain access to Contini Bonacossi Collection which Is in a secret part of the Uffizzi and had a private tour, this can be arranged if you’d like to see it. What made the morning extra special was the fact that (and this is good to note) the Uffizzi museum is not open on a Monday but due to the wonderful Chiara (A&K local rep) coming from the same village as the museums key master he actually open up the Uffizzi museum for us. Normally on any given day 6000 people can walk through the doors and we had 9 of us…amazing. So after our unplanned private tour we headed to our last hotel inspection. The four seasons Florence is still within the city but due to its location and gardens it’s like an oasis’s in a busy city and as all four season it’s is done to a very high standard with a first class service as you would expect from the five star hotel. The hotel was pretty full so we could not see all room category but we were lucky enough to see the suites with restored frescos and to finish off the tour a look in to royal suite with a night rate starting around 15000 euros you know it’s going to be special. As our tour of the impressive royal suite came to an end we were being shown the private dining room and as the door flung open what was on the itinerary as a quick snack was actually in fact our own privet lunch, in the private dining room of the royal suite, it was such a lovely touch that was arranged and very kind of the four seasons to hosts us. It was the perfect end to the perfect weekend away.