August 2010 - Italy
Today was the day of too much food, after eating our fill at breakfast I met up with my friend Elisa who works here and I haven't seen in about five years. We go to the bar, end up having a smoothie (delicious but on top of the breakfast I was feeling it). Mum and Dad joined us and we chatted away until Elisa goes and checks if we can have a look at a couple of rooms.
Oh we got the Grand Tour, listening to Elisa like we had a private guide of a museum (and this place is essentially a museum). There are frescoes everything, a hidden well that meant water could be lifted to the first floor (the noble floor) as the ground level could be flooded and symbols of wealth everywhere.
We went into the second ballroom, Elisa explaining that the original chandeliers were found at auction by the owner. The owners are three Florentine's and clearly they have a passion for their history. Seriously I wish our owners could have this much passion, all the rugs are antique in the suites and match the colour schemes perfectly. The colour schemes are stunning.
I could talk all day about this Hotel, but I'll leave you with this. This is the sitting room of the Royal Suite, not even one of the two Presidential Suites...
We walked out into the gardens where we met Bob, the automatic lawn mower that run around the grounds of the Hotel. Too funny.
By that time it was coming close to 1pm... 1pm and we hadn't even left the Hotel. We let Elisa head back to the office so her coordinator could go for lunch and we headed out to the leather stores.
First store we went into reminded me of DFS in Sydney, hundreds of Japanese and Chinese tourists buying up the store and although it had some nice products the quality just didn't seem to be there. I tried on a jacket and it fit... EXCEPT for the wrists. Even with a shop assistant I couldn't get the jacket off. My wrists aren't big people. Strange. Mum found a nice jacket but wanted to think on it so we headed off to the next leather place.
Now this leather place was recommended by the Hotel, so we were thinking out of our price range, but let's justget a feel for what is going on. This shop was part of the Basilica of Santa Croce... It is like a school of leather that used to be run by the monks and now there are workshops where you can see things being made (unfortunately they were on holidays) and a showroom where you can drool over their work. For example the 3000 Euro red crocodile leather bag, or the slightly less expensive ostrich leather for about 2700 Euro. These were out of the price range but the majority of other items were not, in fact both Mum and I walked away with a leather jacket each, mines crop and black, Mum's is like this light charcoal grey and some of the softest leather I've ever felt. The ladies sold us tickets to the Basilica and we literally walked across the corridor and into the church where we saw Michelango's Tomb and Galileo's.
Next was lunch, Prosciutto with Buffalo Mozzarella. The cheese was huge but I devoured it all... so good.
Keeping it a churchie day we headed inside Il Duomo on the way back to the Hotel. For something that is so imposing on the outside it is a little plain on the inside. It's beautiful to be sure, high arches, frescoed dome, it's just I expected more from the outside (Mum and Dad had warned me of this fact).
Finally back at the Hotel for a very late swim (like 6pm). Where Mum and I took amusement in the family/nanny dramas (it's another world people). Dinner was late (930pm) and by the time we got there it was hard to eat, it was even harder because the food was so damn good. I had Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli and this pasta was full of cheesy goodness. I struggled through the last few pieces and the second best Limone Sorbet to date. This place had a lot of character, free glass of champagne when you sat down (and here I was thinking I would be successful in my alcohol free day), then there was the waiter/possible owner, his arms were covered in silver bracelets and I mean covered. I saw what must have been a regular guest slip at least a 50 Euro note into this guys hand DURING their meal, strange.
Oh, before dinner we did go to the bar in the Hotel for a drink. Dad ordered this apple cocktail that SOOO looked like a girly drink =)