My husband and I are Italy obsessed. It all started with a holiday to Sorrento and Rome a few years ago and snowballed from there. We absolutely fell head over heels in love with the food, the wine, the culture. But, ok…mainly the food and wine.
When it came to choosing a honeymoon destination Italy was a definite and we decided on Florence. Where Rome was hustle and bustle, Florence was leisurely walks. Florence was no agenda and numerous wine pit stops. A relaxed honeymoon to refuel after the craziness of the wedding.
We had booked to stay in the stunning Il Salviatino hotel up in the hills (more on that later) but due to a last minute hotel double booking we were left with a hotel shaped hole in our plans. To Il Salviatino’s credit they could not have been better – arranging for us to stay in an alternative hotel for the first part of our honeymoon. And that’s where we say hello to The St Regis…..
The St Regis Florence was breath-takingly decadent. The location (our room had a balcony view over the Arno river), the décor (think you’ve seen luxury and then think again), the service (private butler!) and a dining room unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Not being huge art lovers (sorry, I know it’s Florence) we kept our plans pretty loose. Any decisions were centred around when and where we wanted to eat.
The restaurant Trattoria 13 Gobbi was recommended to us on our first night. During the day not much more than a casual doorway on a side street we weren’t sure what to expect. We didn’t make a reservation and joined a large queue on arrival (seatings are generally 7pm or 9pm and first come first served without a booking). We were thinking about leaving but thank goodness we waited for a table.
The restaurant was full of local charm, crammed wall to wall with furniture, overflowing with wine bottles. The service was laid back, so no need to rush once you have a table. I could talk about this restaurant all day but instead I’ll tell you what we loved – the Antipasti (enough for two to share), the Spaghetti with Oil, Garlic and Chilli starter, the Florentine T-bone Steak with a side of Spinach, Parmesan and Balsamic Salad. Of course, all washed down with a lot of Chianti. We ended up eating here four times in one week – honestly – just go!
Next, on to Signorvino. Part wine shop, part restaurant. Nab an outside terrace table overlooking the river to enjoy an unrivalled view of the Ponte Vecchio. A great way to sample some local wines with a range of local dishes (we went for a range of starters to share). A definite must visit for lunch.
A short hop over the road from Signorvino you’ll find Il Panino del Chianti – a hole in the wall serving the tastiest paninis and of course, more wine by the glass. If you’re lucky enough to grab one of the few stools, you’ll want to hang on to it!
After a few days in the city we headed up to the Il Salviatino hotel, otherwise known as heaven on earth. A restored 15th century villa nestled in the Tuscan hills with views over Florence and of the Duomo. Though only a 15 minute drive from central Florence (take advantage of the hotel’s complimentary shuttle service) you feel as though you’re a million miles away. From our first drink on the terrace we felt ourselves relax into the tranquillity of the surroundings. The hotel maintains the authenticity of the original 15th Century villa whilst seamlessly providing all the mod cons you’d expect of a luxury property including in room flatscreen TVs, Nespresso coffee machines, iPod docks and LED lit rain showers. Worth every penny.