Travel - Florence & Tuscany {Part 2 of the Italian travelogue}

June 01, 2016

Next on our trip around Italy was a stay in Florence and then out to the most incredible place we have ever stayed, Borgo Santo Pietro in Tuscany. {insert heart eye emojis here!!} We were exhausted from our first couple of days in Rome so we took this part of the trip a lot slower to let our feet recover from all the crazy walking. After our first couple of days in Rome {here}, we'd prebooked a train to Firenze {Florence} which only took an hour and a half. It was almost full so I'd definitely recommend pre-booking, we were in a first class with wifi, plug points and even a coffee and snack all for the grand total of about 35 euros for the both of us. The trains in Italy are so easy for getting around and we were sat in a carriage with some famous Italian footballers on their way to a conference. People kept walking past us to get autographs from them which gave us some entertainment. 

The views out the window going through Tuscany were as beautiful as you'd expect with olive groves and countryside. 

We then stepped out the station to discover a Fiat! Yay! With new numberplaters to collect, FI for Firenze. We jumped in a taxi and headed to Riva Lofts where we were staying for the night.

Riva Lofts was again a Smith Hotel. I'll talk more about it on So You're Getting Married but we had a trendy loft room with a little terrace and there was a beautiful pool we were tempted to spend the afternoon by. But Florence we had come see and we were hungry for lunch so we left our bags and walked into town. Riva Lofts are about a 15 minute walk out of town but it's set on the river Arno so the walk is a pretty one by the water the whole way.

We couldn't believe it had been six years since our last trip to Florence {here}. We'd done all the main sights last time like climbing the Duomo, visiting the Uffizi gallery and cycled out in the Tuscan hills. So this trip we only had an afternoon in the city, having lunch in the main square, finding a Grom for a gelato and then we decided to walk up to Piazza Michaelangelo for views across to Florence. 

It's such a pretty city and so many people say that it's their favourite in Italy. It felt so different to Rome too, more open, relaxed, surrounded by countryside I guess. 

The river Arno is a real focal point of the city with various bridges to cross, the Ponte Vecchio being the most famous {and definitely the most crowded!}.  

If you're visiting then walking up to the Piazza Michelangelo is a must. It's signed from the city and you walk up a steep hill but get rewarded with views back across to Florence. 

There are a few cafes up there, drinks and ice cream stalls etc to sit and take in the view. 

Just below the terrace is a rose garden which we didn't even know existed on our last visit. It was gorgeous and I'd forgotten what roses smelt like! These were the best. 

It overlooks the Duomo in the distance and we spent half the afternoon just laying on the grass there. Pleased to rest our feet too! We debated walking back to the hotel but in the end we hailed a taxi, it was just that bit too far out of town knowing that we'd be walking back in for dinner later on.

Hashtag I have this thing with old doors, and climbing roses. 

That night we walked back in for dinner, heading straight for Gusto Pizza. It's somewhere I'd found on Instagram when I searched on Florence as a location and spotted a heart shape pizza! We then googled Gusto and found that they were known for making the best pizzas in Florence and people queue out the door every night. We got there for 7 when it opened and only stood in line for about ten minutes but by the time we came out, it was snaked around the corner down the street! 

It was a proper Italian pizzeria with an incredible wood fired oven that cooked them in less than 2 minutes. We watched them prepare and cook pizza after pizza after pizza. They were machines. We ordered one heart shape and one regular and sat out on steps in a little square to eat them. It was definitely our favourite pizza of the whole trip. 

Then we walked back towards the river and returned to the Gelateria on the corner that we'd been to on our first trip out there. If you go to Gusto pizza you can't miss it. Before walking back along the river, don't you just love holidays for every evening being special?

The next morning we headed to the airport to pick up a hire car, a super cute fiat 500! A must whilst in Italy. We were heading out of the city and into the Tuscan hills. Ben drove and I was chief navigator, {I cheated with a pre downloaded google map page or we'd have been lost and going round in circles}. The roads were a lot easier than we expected out there, I think it's only in the cities that you see some crazy Italian driving. 

An hour and a half later we arrived to picture perfect Tuscan luxury at Borgo Santo Pietro. We knew we'd be in for a treat staying here but it was just out of this world.

We had a tour around the whole property so that we could get to know exactly how it all works and what's on offer. 

There were acres of grounds, all so beautiful and perfectly manicured. Along with a spa, a cooking school, even an in house florist. 

I love gardens and flowers as you know so I was in heaven wandering around. It was just perfection in the way that it was all displayed.

We stayed in a garden suite called Basilico, with a huge comfy bed, two fireplaces {one inside and one out} and you guessed it. A rolltop bath of dreams!

I fell in love with the chandeliers and beams.

We had our own private garden and a phone to take around wherever we went in case we needed anything or a fire lighting.

We were greeted with cherries, champagne and homemade chocolates. So so decadent.

We spent our time in between the gorgeous suite and exploring the rest of the resort. 

The whole resort overlooks miles of hills and countryside. The hotel have just bought and are starting a vineyard just below which will be a treat for guests in the future to walk through. There were so many walks we could have done around the area but in truth we were more than happy staying where we were. The pool area was beautiful although the weather was a lot better the second day we were there.

There are two restaurants, a Michelin starred luxury one for dinner and then this cute treehouse restaurant by the pool which we loved for lunch, cocktails and ice cream. {although it was crazy expensive but when in Rome and all that.. One thing we did read though if you were staying longer is to walk to the village five minutes down the road that has a local restaurant for cheap pizza etc}

The roses, as they had been in Florence & Rome, were at their peak. Huge swathes of bright pinks that just smelt heavenly. It inspired us to think more about our garden project and I've been dreaming of those walls covered in flowers ever since.

There were alliums, delphiniums and all kinds of cottage garden flowers in beds along with huge lemons trees and the best roses we've ever seen. You can ask a gardener for a tour but we found just wandering around in our time was rather lovely.

I took a walk to Casa Dei Fiori, the flower house with two in house florists who created fresh displays for dotting around the rooms and main house each day. I would love love love that job. Can you imagine?

After a crazy thunderstorm that afternoon where we were snuggled up in our room, the sun came out in time for getting ready for dinner.

That evening light!!

We were eating at Meo Modo, the Michelin starred restaurant that I'd been reallly looking forward to. 

The setting made it ridiculously special before any food had even arrived. The whole evening topped my {very high} expectations and the dinner will be one to remember for a long long time.

It was the kind of place where they even bought you a tiny foot stall for your handbag to sit on. Super fancy. 

We were presented with pre appetisers and amuse bouches before we'd even ordered anything. Deconstructed olives were carried on a piece of olive wood next to an olive leaf. It was all tuscan in style but with a very smart twist.

Our favourites were the asparagus risotto and the lobster linguine. I can't believe the Italians can eat those big meals all the time. Starters, first course {pasta}, second course {meat/fish} and then dessert! I mean, it's amazing but just so much food.

Take me back just for that lobster again!! 

We both ordered fish for our second courses and then out came the puddings! A caramel apple creation and this white chocolate custard with berries and meringue. 

Our waiter insisted on us having a 'sweet dream' before we left to go back to our room, their patisserie chef worked his magic on some chocolate again. So scrummy. We practically rolled back! 

The next morning we only had two things on the agenda, breakfast and pool time! We wanted to soak up every second before it was time to head back to the city and drop our hire car back. We could have stayed for a week, a month in fact! 

Breakfast had everything you could imagine, poached and fresh fruit, pancakes or omelettes whipped up in front of you by the chef, yogurts, meats, cheeses, homemade bread, cakes, apple tarts, eggs, you name it. I could just live there. 


And then to the pool! Despite the hot day, we had it to ourselves. Where was everybody?!! We weren't complaining though.

Back to reality. I could have cried! Borgo, we will be back again at some point I'm sure of it. Such a dream.

With the radio on for our journey back to Florence we set about saying goodbye. We had a train to Venice to catch!

You can read more on So You're Getting Married here.
And find out more about Riva Lofts here and Borgo Santo Pietro here.

R <3 xx 

{I was a guest of both hotels thanks to Mr & Mrs Smith for So You're Getting Married but I can promise you that I'd never ever write about somewhere that I didn't truly love.}

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  1. I am totally in love with this holiday. How long were you away for? You managed to fit a lot in.

    1. Thank you, it was so dreamy. We had 8 nights/9 full days. A whistle stop tour, it was non stop but amazing xx

  2. So pleased you stayed at Riva Lofts. They are the loveliest people - I became friends with the owners when they first opened thanks to an incredible burlesque party they hosted! I have yet to actually stay there since I lived in Florence for 4 years, but I am pretty sure I will make it my first stop when next back. Did you manage to get to the hot springs at Petriolo? x

  3. So pleased you stayed at Riva Lofts. They are the loveliest people - I became friends with the owners when they first opened thanks to an incredible burlesque party they hosted! I have yet to actually stay there since I lived in Florence for 4 years, but I am pretty sure I will make it my first stop when next back. Did you manage to get to the hot springs at Petriolo? x


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