I am so excited to be writing about Tuscany. Now that I have shared some of our Roman holiday memories and now that the winter Holidays are coming to end, it's time for me to get back to telling more tales of our journey in Europe. This time it's off to Tuscany and I have so much so share with you! Overall, we were in Florence for 6 days and explored most of the architecture and fine art in the birthplace of the Renaissance; tasted the fine cuisine of course; and were awe-struck with the breathtaking Tuscan landscapes as we went touring through the hills. I tell you it's just as you see it in books, online, in movies, but this time it's in living color with your own eyes! I couldn't believe my own!
But first let me back up to tell you a little about how we got there. Early in the morning on the day of our departure, we caught a cab and headed for Rome Termini train station to board our train for our 1 ½ hour to journey to Florence. Have you ever traveled by train in Europe? It's wonderfully convenient and best of all, provides a respite from those busy touring itineraries left behind in Rome and yet to come in Florence. Once on board with your luggage, ugh, find your seat and sit back, relax and watch the landscapes roll by from the comfort of your own seat. It may be some time before a conductor stops by to stamp your biglietto so don't worry, he will come. I need to digress and mention how important it is to book your seats ahead of time so you are guaranteed seating on the train. If you don't, you risk standing for the duration and that would really be inconvenient, to say the least. Before we left the U.S., I went to Rail Europe
to book all of our city-to-city train tickets and had them in hand before we left. Very convenient and no need to stand in long lines at the station.
Finally Firenze! We're here! It's 12:15 and we're on our way to our most favorite place to stay in all of Europe, The Hotel Monna Lisa in Florence. Yes, the spelling is correct, two "n's". I stumbled upon this place while planning for our first trip It's exactly the kind of place I wanted to stay while in Florence and it's convenient to the Duomo and Baptistry, the Uffuzi, The Accademia, the Ponte Vecchio, and more!
Although not much to look at from the front when your taxi arrives at the front door, and actually, that's all you see, is a front door, it's a complete transformation once you're inside! First, you walk through what was once a living room of some sort but it's vacant and all you see at the other end of the room are glass doors welcoming you to the hotel lobby. After you check in, it's off the to main building that houses the bar, the breakfast garden room and sitting room, all with views into an enchanting courtyard that's filled with fragrances of flowering trees, citrus and olive. Each building has public sitting rooms with desks and no matter which building you're in, each is quaint and completely charming! See for yourself.
Talk about steeped in history, this hotel has a history dating back to the 1300s when this palazzo was originally a convent. Later in 1439, it was owned by the Ferrantini Family and then the Nerri family in the early 1500's. After that, it changed families until the present-day owners, the Ciardi Dupre Family, converted it into a hotel in 1956. I know this sounds like a commercial, but I recommend calling the Hotel Monna Lisa
your home next time you're in Florence and even while you're touring throughout Tuscany as well. It was our base while we ventured under the Tuscan sun to Siena
(those stories in later postings) and it was so nice to come back in the early evening and relax in the courtyard with a cappuccino before dinner. This is when I loved to journal the day's experience.
Our room is #5 every time we go because it has a balcony that overlooks the lush and fragrant courtyard that the hotel surrounds on three sides. To the left is a convent. Breakfast is included every day and is served in the garden room. Nice huh?
Well, I will leave you to your exploring the website and taking in the snapshots. I can't tell you enough how wonderful this place is. You will just have to find out for yourself.