Expat Takes An Extended Holiday in January

While the first week of the New Year means back to business for most, it means an extended holiday for me and has done so for the last fifteen years—wedding anniversary time.

Over the years we have celebrated as far away as St Lucia and as close as London and many times in fantastic cities somewhere in between such as Dubrovnik, one of our most memorable commemorations.

This year, we added Florence, Italy, to our list and made memories that we will treasure for years to come. While there was no sunshine to soak up, the food, fashion and culture made up for it.

With so much to see and do, we hardly knew where to start in Florence. Aptly, since Paul had some work that could not be ignored, we began to taste the flavour of the city in our beautiful room, overlooking the Ponte Vecchio, perhaps Florence’s most recognised bridge.

From there, we did a reconnoitre of the shops on Via de Torbabouni, akin to New Bond Street and Madison Avenue, and those around it, paving the way for my solo expedition the next day.

Ending the day, I visited the Ferragamo Museum and was reminded of my first brush with luxury brands, some thirty years ago. Not that I could afford anything as such, but my very stylish boss at the time (you know who you are) absolutely loved Ferragamo shoes and rightly so. While I likely had a shoe obsession long before I moved to New York City, it definitely exacerbated in the company of the luxury brands and those who wore them. Still, no Ferragamos for me on this trip, but I did look long and hard at a pair of limited edition wedges, an original design of the master himself.

The next day, I ventured to the Gucci Museum, though I can’t say I am dripping in Gucci designs. My personal favourites are their watches, of which I have bought a few over the years. Still the museum, which charts the history of the brand from a 1920’s meagre leather goods shop to a modern day luxury brand, is fascinating. Running through Gucci’s history are a few everyday items such as the horse bit and bamboo, which have become icons of luxury.

Michelangelo's  David,
Michelangelo’s David,

Nevertheless, Florence isn’t just about fashion, it’s about culture more than anything else. From the Galleria Uffizi to the Galleria Academia, Florence houses a stunning display of original paintings and sculptures. Most notable, of course, is Michelangelo’s David. Even if you have seen pictures, copies of the statue, there ain’t nothing like the real thing, which is a good segue to Italian food.

Most memorable has to be our anniversary dinner at Il Palagio, housed in the Four Seasons. Looking at my beautiful menu, I commented to Paul that we might be in for another Era Ora experience where we had no idea what the dinner would cost. Remember, Copenhagen?

Not so, he said, smiling and then explained the custom of giving the host, the man, the menu with the prices and spare his guest (s). There you go, I ordered away and for the first time had pigeon. I know, I know. But it was excellent, as was the surprise anniversary cake of sorts, made by the restaurant’s chef, presented with a red rose for me.

If that wasn’t enough to confirm Florence as a romantic city, we witnessed a marriage proposal the next day at the Gucci Museum café, lad on bended knee and all.

It’s the perfect place to consider holy matrimony, since Florence is perhaps best known for its holiness. Not only evident in its symbolic art all around the city, Christianity’s mark on Florence is on display in and outside of its many churches, cathedrals. Its most famous, the Duomo, the Santa Maria del Fiore, is a magnificent Gothic structure built on the site of the 7th century church of Santa Reparata.

Having vowed not to climb to the top of the Duomo, some 463 steps, Paul and I stopped just short of the cupola, as we were short on time and I must admit, breath, too. Still we saw up close and personal Giorgio Vasarils famous frescoes of the Last Judgement.

Breathtaking, even if we didn’t get the best view of Florence in the end. Still, we felt we experienced the best of the city, racking up another memorable celebration. Here’s is to extended holidays in January, even if is back to work today.


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