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Florence, Il Mio Amore

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“Florence, I love you.” How many of us have said that? But it has been years for me since I have been in this magical jewel of a small city. Fortunately, the next best thing to my actually being there was my dear friend, Norma Thiessen’s, blog piece on her recent trip. Complete with captivating images and witty writing, I’m sharing it with you right now.

You’ll remember Norma as the talent behind “My Beautiful Paris” blog, and a new travel partner for my trips to London and Paris this past winter; somehow I’m going to maneuver a spot on her return to Florence escapade. But for now, pull up a comfy chair and pour yourself a glass of vino…you are in for a treat!

In 2003 I received a nice little work bonus. I looked at it and immediately thought: “Wow, where should I go?” (God forbid I actually put it into a savings account. Nope!) The travel bug had bit me. Unattached at the time, I grabbed my very lucky mother and off we went to spend an entire week in Florence.  

I had always wanted to visit Florence; to take in the art, shopping, and biking through Tuscany. All of it seemed so perfect. Well, our plans certainly changed once we landed…in the middle of a record-breaking European heat wave. It was the hottest summer on record since 1540!   

Regardless of the seriously thick air we were breathing, the apartment I rented without air conditioning, how gelato would literally dribble out of the cone and down our arms before we even had a chance to get at it, not seeing Michelangelo’s David because it was too hot to get there, the dead and dry Boboli gardens – despite all that, we had the most amazing time.

We lived off peaches and water the entire week. I am not kidding. We barely touched the pasta. It was just too hot to eat anything cooked. Thinking back, I cannot think of one other travel companion who could have endured this trip other than my mother. What a trooper she was. To give you a clear picture on the severity of the heat wave, the European death toll reached over 70,000 people that summer. 

Despite the conditions, I fell in love with Florence that week. Over the past 14 years I have returned numerous times with many special people. 

This time I returned for an Instagram takeover collaboration with the Four Seasons Firenze. I took over their Instagram account for five glorious days, having the opportunity to share my love for this hotel and city. I had so much fun I could hardly stand it. In fact, we had such a great time I am returning later this year to do it all over again.

Serene and magical barely begin to describe the feeling that envelops you the minute you walk through the entrance way of the 15th-century Tuscan palazzo. And it only gets better for the lucky ones who are chauffeured via golf cart across the gardens to their suite in the 16th-century La Villa.

The most precious space at the Four Seasons Hotel Firenze is the chapel. At least it is for me. The chapel, which sits off the courtyard atrium, was built in the 16th century. Other than necessary preservation work, it remains untouched. My favorite features are the mother-of-pearl shells installed throughout and the beautiful large wooden window. I didn’t think the moment could get any sweeter until I opened the very old double-doored window and was instantly hit with the scent of roses. With the warm breeze and fragrance coming from the rose garden, I was certain I had died and gone to Heaven. And in a chapel – how fitting! 

Here you can sit with a book, or enjoy a private dinner for two or an afternoon tea, like I did.

My corner room was perfection. Every detail was impeccable. One side offered a view of the garden and from the other side I gazed out at Brunelleschi’s dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria. I placed my ridiculously gorgeous peony arrangement on the windowsill and sat there in complete awe. How do you tear yourself away from this scenery?! Well, it was inevitable and five days later I said goodbye (for now!).

Thank you, Four Seasons Firenze, for everything! It’s no wonder you have so many fans and constantly receive accolades and awards. Alla prossima!

Keep your eyes peeled for my upcoming post, ‘Florence, il mio amore – Part Two.’ I am looking forward to sharing the other highlights of my recent time in Florence, including my meetups with cookbook author Emiko Davies and textile designer Margherita Pandolfini.

I’m already booking my stay…it’s been too, too long. How about you?

All images taken by, Norma Theissen, of My Beautiful Paris.

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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

5 thoughts on “Florence, Il Mio Amore

  1. What a magical recap of Florence! The details you remember–“the fragrance of roses
    when I opened my window”, are amazing!! but not surprising knowing you!!

  2. This sends me back to Florencc. Could be me behind the newspaper. Truly the most lovely reminisce.

  3. Civilization at its finest. We spent two blissful weeks there earlier this year and your post has brought it all back. Grazie.

    P.s. Should share too that where we stayed made all the difference. Near absolutely everything but super private and homey, but elegant. And it didn’t hurt that the gentleman in charge I swear must be related to Rossano Brazzi. (Remember that Katharine Hepburn movie where she goes to Venice? And South Pacific too.) Dead ringer, with charm to match. And frankly we found it reasonable for two bedrooms. Much less than hotels we had priced. Beautiful. Cavalieri Palace Residences.

  4. Did she find ANGELA CAPUTI ‘s shop?
    YES, I lived there for three years in the early 90’s before the FOUR SEASONS was installed.However,A dear friend of mine her son was one of the assistant chefs there……….
    I have heard sonly GOOD things as well………….
    ALL OF US!

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