October 16, 2012

Hotel degli Orafi in Florence

My favorite hotel in Florence is the charming Hotel degli Orafi. I have stayed there about 10 times in the past six years, usually for about a week at a time.There are many reasons why I like this hotel so much, and I’m excited to share them with you.

First of all, the location is idea. It is situated on the lungarno, between the Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi galleries.  Everything is within walking distance, whether you want to go across the river, or in the other direction, towards the Duomo and beyond.

Their staff is consistent; I see the same familiar faces each time I visit. Even the housekeeping staff stays the same. Each person I have encountered is warm and friendly. It really feels like home to me.

No matter how tired and stressed I am from overseas travel, as soon as I get into my room, which usually is room 403, sometimes 401, I feel completely at home.  The d├ęcor is calming, sheets are crisp and clean, and the view—well, you can’t any better than this.

Each of the rooms that I stay in overlooks the Arno and has a perfect view of the Ponte Vecchio and the Vasari Corridor. One can gaze out the window and imagine Renaissance daily life.

It is said the memory of a particular scent makes a strong impression.  Hotel degli Orafi takes care of that as well. In each bath, they provide a room freshener by the Ancient Pharmacy of Dr.Vranjes , in the scent Terra. This scent is warm and rich, and this time I purchased some to bring home, so that I may have the same scent in my own home.

Other touches include free bottled water daily in the frigo bar, a beautiful breakfast room-although I do get room service and watch the local news over tea, croissant and yogurt- and nightly turn down service which includes candies and  a weather report for the following day.

You can read more about the history of Hotel degli Orafi here, which by the way, is where A Room with a View was filmed.

And here are a few of my photos:
 Views from hotel room

Welcome Fruit Bowl

Breakfast Room Service

June 19, 2012

Enjoying the Vogalonga in Venice

We recently spent 5 glorious days in Venice and were fortunate enough to be there, just by chance,  when the 2012 Vogalonga took place. Probably just like we did, you are asking yourself,
“what on earth is the Vogalonga?”

The Vogalonga is a celebration of all types of  watercraft, which takes place in Venice every May. It began in 1974 on Saint Martin’s day, when a group of people interested in Venetian rowing got together for a regatta. Since the world was turning more and more towards motorboats, these lovers of Venetian traditions wanted to show their commitment to the older traditions and encourage others to do the same.They instituted a non-competitive regatta, the first of which took place in May 1975.
500 boats arrived that year, carrying 1500 participants, and nowadays there are about 1500 boats with over 5000 participants. It is an exciting day in Venice! The event, whose participants were originally only Venetians, has grown to include lovers of their oars from other parts of Italy, Europe, and beyond.

Early in the morning, from the windows of our hotel room which opened onto the Grand Canal, we got to see all the boaters travelling towards Piazza San Marco, where the regatta begins. There were sculls with crew teams, individual kayaks, and gondolas. The celebration of color and camraderie was so exciting on that glorious late May morning, and even as tourists and onlookers, we really felt that we were participating in an extraordinary happening.

Here’s a short video, taken from our window, of the rowers heading towards Piazza San Marco at about 7AM: