Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by Hotel Brunelleschi, a boutique hotel in Florence, Italy that generously hosted me for one night on my trip. All opinions - as always - are my own.
For part two of my Florence trip, I stayed at Hotel Brunelleschi, a boutique hotel right around the corner from the Duomo, which made is hands down a fantastic location.
The hotel is rich with history, as its central medieval tower used to be a women's prison, and in many ways, the hotel has remained true to its historical roots by creating an on-site underground museum showcasing its recent excavation discoveries.
But in other ways, the hotel has completely embraced the here and now with their small state of the art fitness room, and luxe, chic rooms and suites. They marry the old world and new world so well.
I was treated to an incredible meal at their main restaurant, Osteria Della Pagliazza. I discovered halfway through my trip, that the best way to enjoy a meal was to let the chef choose what to serve. I handed the menu back and told the server just that, and it was honestly the best thing I did all trip. Each course was traditional Tuscany fare and highlights included slow roasted beef cheek, rabbit ragou, and a tiramisu that I still dream about. The service was excellent, and the food was even better.
They also have a smaller restaurant, Santa Elisabetta, which is located within the medieval tower, with just seven tables. It is a true fine dining experience with a private chef and impressive wine list.
I stayed there for one of the final trips of my trip, and by that point, I felt I'd seen a good bit of the touristy spots in Florence, and really just wanted to relax. I stayed in and read (I finished this book (it was ok, a good read for vacation when you don't want to get too deep) and started The Secret Wife, which I'm still working on). I also decided to do a little work and filmed a yoga in bed sequence in the room (stay tuned for that on the YouTube Channel), and a neck and shoulders sequence (coming next week to the blog). It was nice to gently begin to ease my way back into work mode while still enjoying being on vacation.
Now, food was without a doubt a highlight of the trip and I felt like you really can't go wrong with whatever place you choose, but if you go and have a chance to snag a reservation at La Giostra (and you need one!), you MUST.
It was hands down the absolute best meal I've ever had. I went early by Italy standards because I was #hangry, and even though the place was basically empty, they said, "Sorry, but we're full." I rightly assumed that all the tables were reserved, and I said, "Please? What if I eat fast?" The guy kind of laughed and he said, "Fine, but I'm bringing you a check at 8pm, and you must leave then." It was 6:15pm at the time, haha, so that was no problem! I suppose my 'hurry up' American culture worked in my favor this time around, but it really highlighted the difference in cultures. One of my frustrations when dining out in Europe is having to acclimate to the fact that there is no such thing as a hurry. The bill isn't going to come unless I ask for it (and even then, I might have to wait a solid fifteen to twenty minutes). In a way, it's a beautiful reminder to just slow down and enjoy the moment. In this case, it worked in my favor. I had a four course meal in just under an hour and a half. To my American standards, I had enjoyed a leisurely meal. The Italian servers profusely apologized for having to hurry me out, haha, but I assured them they were not. But anyway, best meal ever. I left it up to the chef, and the highlight for me was the homemade ravioli.
From Florence, it was time to head back to Milan. I just had one night there, but I didn't want to waste the opportunity to see the Duomo, which was absolutely gorgeous. From there, I got lost and found again looking for this pizza place called Gino Sorbillo which was recommended by a guy who worked at the airport hotel. He sung this restaurant's praises and said it was real deal pizza that locals eat, and probably the only restaurant near the Duomo that isn't a tourist trap. He advised going early because there is always a line out the door. Sure enough, the doors didn't open until 7:30pm but by 6:45pm there was a line ten deep. By 7:30, the number had tripled. The menu was all in Italian and so I just closed my eyes, pointed, and hoped for the best. I mean it's pizza in Italy, how can you go wrong?
I ate about half before I had to stop, but good lord was that pizza good! Another interesting observation is that everyone eats pizza with a fork and knife. Being the cave woman that I apparently am, I just couldn't master that technique and eventually had to resort to my American ways and eat with my hands, ahhaha. It was one of those restaurants where you're seated right on top of the people next to you, and the couple to my left was Spanish, so luckily I was able to make a joke with them about it to acknowledge that I knew I looked like an idiot and we all had a good laugh.
I flew Air Berlin during this trip and the flight to Italy there was less than stellar (the light above my seat was faulty and kept turning on when I was trying to sleep, and my tv was short circuited and kept turning on as well). My bags were also lost and I didn't get them for three days with no explanation or apology from Air Berlin. Now, I do not have unlimited funds, and yet I try budget and save to fly business class because my health is very important to me, and my body does not do well without quality sleep, so I was frustrated with the light and tv situation, and further frustrated that nothing was done by the attendants to help. Because the first leg of my Italy trip was for work, not having my bags meant I didn't have some of the supplies I needed for classes, and that was also disappointing. Flying home was fine, though. The aircraft seemed newer than the flight out there, the food was good, and everything worked well. I won't, however, be flying that airline in the future, if I can help it. PS - I saw La La Land, and can't believe I waited this long to see it. It was so good!