17 Sep 2015

A Honeymoon in Florence

wedding bride and groom balloon black white

Hey there, stranger! I've been a little quiet on the blog front lately. Life became rather hectic a few months ago with a new job and the big party that was our wedding happening simultaneously. It’s been a fun summer, lets catch up.

wedding group shot blue blush


wedding bride groom portrait black and white

First up, our wedding which was held on a breezy and sunny midsummers day at The Mansion in Roundhay Park, Leeds. Yes, we did it! After ten eventful years together we finally got hitched.


groomsmen blue suit summer wedding


We had a beautiful day, shedding tears of joys and laughter with the people we love the most. Noel Edmonds made a special guest appearance, and we dance until our feet hurt with our fantastic wedding band, The Deevines.

wedding portrait bridesmaids blush pink

And, importantly we’ve got plenty of incredible photos that captured the day naturally, thanks to our lovely wedding photographer Craig at Mr & Mrs Wedding Photography

After every wedding, comes the honeymoon. A time for newlyweds to talk about anything other than the W word and indulge, guilt-free, in whatever they please.


bride groom wedding day confetti

We decided on a luxurious European city break and Florence instantly caught our attention as our perfect honeymoon destination. It’s beautiful, steeped in history, and neighbours the famous Chianti wine region. Also, carbs would definitely be on the menu after weeks of abstinence.


wedding bride groom garden
Shall we go to Florence, darling?

Getting to Florence requires a slight detour via Pisa airport and about an hour on a coach. Not the most glamorous of journeys yet a route well travelled so very straightforward. We arrived at the coach station in central Florence, Firenze to the locals, a little light headed from the plentiful amounts of bubbles consumed since our arrival at Stansted. 

Within a few minutes, unsurprisingly, we got sidetracked by an ancient looking trattoria with a huge clay oven standing proudly inside it's doorway. It was a time for a pizza pie! 

Our first pizza in Florence had the thin, crispy crust that's tricky to find done well in the UK. It was perfection and not a bite was wasted despite its daunting size. Steve opted for Nona’s (aka Grandma’s) Tuscan boar stew with gnocchi which was equally tasty. 


classic fiat 500
An Italian classic!

After our authentic Italian feed we headed to our luxury suite at the newly opened Hotel Palazzo Castri 1874. This boutique hotel is quite simply stunning. The building dates back to Florentine Impressionism and has been exquisitely refurbished to become a super chic, elegant and luxurious place to stay in central Florence. 


hotel palazzo castri
The pretty courtyard of our hotel.

A dapperly dressed waiter delivered chilled prosecco to our room and we toasted the start of a beautiful few days in Florence - and the rest of our lives!

On our first evening we took advantage of our central location and meandered through the picturesque cobbled streets to the main square. 


Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral
What a beauty!

Our first sight of the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral was literally breathtaking, its right up there as one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen. We’d done very little research into the sights of Florence, so we turned a corner and had this beauty dazzle us. It’s grand not only in size but also in colour and detail: pink, white and green marble facade, anyone?


santa maria del fiore florence
The perfect view for our first dinner date in Florence.

On day two we went on a private tour of the Trambusti family vineyard in the picturesque Tuscan countryside, a little treat organised by Steve. We do love wine tasting, just last year we were sampling some very fine wines in Mendoza, it was a given that we’d want to explore the Chianti region and sample the local vino. When in Chianti...


trambusti wine barrel

Their family vineyard was situated right in the heart of the Chianti Classico region. It's less than an hours drive from central Florence and well worth checking out, especially if you fancy taking taking the scenic route to Siena. The landscape is beautiful, tiny tracks dissect the rolling hills of vine after vine lined fields.

vineyard chianti tuscany

Look out for the cockerel emblem on your next bottle of Chianti and treat yourself to this ruby red nectar from a very traditional part of Tuscany. 

We toasted our scenic morning with a bottle of prosecco, and our guide Tomasso, at his grandfathers beautiful home and tried to make friends with their pet peacock. On the drive back to Florence we gained some invaluable tips on the cities unmissable sights and bars.

For lunch we headed to Za Za’s in central Florence, and despite its touristy vibe we soon understood what made this place so popular for the past 37 years - their delicious, homely Italian menu.

lunch zaza florence
"Mmm... steak"

This traditional trattoria has an extensive menu of fresh, simple and very tasty Italian dishes. It's quite dark inside, the wall art is on the quirky side but you can see and feel the buzz from the chefs in the kitchen. 

We opted for a regional classic of Florentine steak with shavings of parmesan and artichokes, and we couldn’t be in Italy for more than 24 hours without tucking into a hearty portion of homemade lasagne.

Oh, and lets not forget the tiramasu, or Chianti classico! 

the ultimate tiramasu

Lunching in Florence is the best. La Dolce Vita springs to mind a lot.
  
la menagere restaurant florence
Another fab lunch spot: La Menagere

Dinner is also a highlight of any day in Florence. We had reservations at Il Palagio, the Four Season hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant lead by chef Vito Mollica. 

The setting was poised for romance: candle lit tables in a trellis covered garden, handsome waiters and a cheery guy on a keyboard effortlessly schmoozing out the ballads from the past fifty years. We gazed adoringly into each others eyes...


il pallagio four seasons florence

Erm. Okay, we didn’t do that (for long) but we did drink champagne and work our way through four very delicious courses of fine Tuscan cuisine.

We sat in Florence’s largest courtyard garden for almost four hours and found plenty to keep ourselves, and our tastebuds, amused.


amuse bouche
An amuse bouche

The highlight of the evening was when the waiter arrived at our table with a silver dome. He lifted the lid, turned to Steve and said ‘Sir, your pork bladder.’. After fifteen puzzling seconds, he closed the lid turned and walked away.

By this point Steve’s jaw had hit the floor. The pork bladder was raw, pink and not dissimilar in size or appearance to a party balloon. 

Mmm, tasty. 

Or maybe not, it’s safe to say he was regretting his menu choice.

I was in fits of giggles. We had no idea what was going on. Was this the moment for Steve to cancel his adventurous choice or confirm his approval of such a fine looking bladder?

Steve’s daring dish arrived thankfully without the raw bladder. Just four dainty chicken wings, masterfully marinated and scrumptious. Phew!

The next day we crammed in some sightseeing between rain showers. Florence is the perfect sized city for getting around on foot and burning off calories.

river oro florence
The beautiful River Oro

First we checked out the Gucci museum and admired the gallery of statues on Palazzo Vecchio. 

palazzo vecchio florence

Soon enough the heavens opened so we made a dash for lunch and stumbled into the cutest little trattoria to while away a couple of hours.


honeymoon florence
More fantastic Italian wine!

Once the rain had cleared we made a beeline for the famous Duomo, the must-climb tourist attraction in Florence. Daunted by the queues we decided to climb to the top of the Giotto's bell tower on the opposite corner of the cathedral, it was a sweaty but rewarding climb and the view at the top was incredible. 


duomo view from bell tower florence
Florence’s terracotta rooftops are picture perfect.

We now had taste for Florence’s famous panoramic views so that evening we headed to Piazella de Michelangelo on the south bank to watch the sunset. Our plan was to enjoy cocktails at the trendy Flo bar but the view was little too cloudy so we ended up on the tiny terrace of the cafe in the carpark. 

sunset florence

Tip: Take our own prosecco and drink like the locals do from plastic cups perched on the wall.

It was Saturday night and when we got to the popular Oltrarno neighborhood it was impossible to get a table. So, we wandered back across the river and managed to find a more than satisfactory pizza and bottle of chianti at a popular pavement restaurant serving till late. 


Piazella de Michelangelo florence

Given our busy day we were soon ready for our beauty sleep and skipped a nightcap at the neighbouring rowdy bars.

On Sunday, we seized the opportunity to venture to the top of the Duomo and were very pleased that we only queued for 30 minutes before heading inside. 

climbing the duomo florence
Pause and pose for a mid-climb selfie.

The climb to the top was sweat inducing, mostly due to the heat but it wasn’t as narrow inside as we’d feared. If you’ve ever been inside the duomo at The Vatican you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


honeymoon in florence

The views from the top of the duomo are wonderful but the downside is that it is a little bit cramped on the viewing platform due to the number of tourists up there. We had to queue a little to get back down and I doubt there is ever a quiet time to visit.

santa maria novella church
The pretty Santa Maria Novella church

santa maria novella church

We also visited Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, the most beautiful pharmacy in all of the land! 


Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella

As a beauty product obsessive I was in heaven and left with an impressive haul of bath oils and a clay pomegranate infused with pomegranate oil.


beauty product haul florence
Any excuse for another trip to Florence!

Next we headed the Ufuzi gallery, another of Florence’s must visit attractions. We hot footed it through this enormous gallery in under 30 minutes, if religious art is a passion then you’ll love this place, if its not then you probably don’t need to visit and can save yourself 30 euro.


ufuzi florence

We heard that there was a another incredible view of Florence not to missed. 

early sunset river oro hotel excelsior hotel florence

Watching the sunset over the River Oro from the rooftop of The Excelsior was the perfect activity for our final evening.

sunset river oro florence

With cocktails of course!

sunset cocktails florence

Florence is all about the views and it boasts many fabulous ones, however its just as beautiful at street level as it is from the rooftops. 

Every street boasts beautiful renaissance architecture and is full of character.


city guide florence

Our honeymoon in Florence was simply dreamy, relaxing and romantic with no stress to tick off an endless list of sights. It was all about the company and the ambience that this wonderful city provides.

honeymoon florence
 Mio amore xxx

After five fabulous days of La Dolce Vita it was time to head back to Yorkshire and embark on a new chapter called ‘Married Life.’

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