Wednesday, February 28, 2024
DestinationsEuropeFood & DrinkTravel

Fabulous foodie Europe is open for business

With the EU opening its doors to vaccinated Americans this summer, here are two destinations offering quick culinary bliss.

FLORENCE

It had been years since I had visited the stunning city of Florence, Italy and my wife, Anne, had never been. Anne was booked to sing on a cruise through the Italian Riviera and lucky me, she invited me to go along as her guest. Its was a pretty good gig for me!

The itinerary included an overnight in Florence. What a perfect way for me to rediscover this city and for Anne to experience it for the first time. So we planned a mini vacation while on the cruise and decided to do two days and one night in Florence. We were docked in Livorno which was just a short train ride to Florence. And our hotel was a short walk from the train station. One of the many beautiful things about Florence is that it is very much a walking city.

The hotel we chose to stay in was dreamy on every level. From the boutique elegance that you feel once you enter the property to the kind and warm smiles that greet you as you check in, J.K. Place Firenze is an absolutely special hotel experience. It is an intimate home and a true hidden gem located right in the beautiful Santa Maria Novella Square. An elegant habitat that joins atmosphere with scents from the past while at the same time offering precise and decidedly contemporary comfort, J.K. Place follows a philosophy of hospitality that is truly different and far from overused. A real house with fireplaces aglow, meaningful contemporary flavors and objects deposited over time with its overlay of happy memories and a soft approach with refined and attentive but never invasive service.

Upon check in, we were offered a beautifully written guide to Florence along with a wifi hotspot to utilize during our stay so we did not need to use our data when we left the hotel. We were brought to our room which was breathtaking. From the linen sheets to the cashmere blankets to the fireplace and tub and the gorgeous windows that open out to the piazza, we were in heaven. As we sat outside at their restaurant on the piazza, Claudio, the hotel’s general manager was kind enough to join us for a drink. Within five minutes, I understood that the warmth of the hotel originates with him. He was charismatic, warm, kind and so incredibly passionate about Florence. He offered us suggestions on where to go and what to do along with amazing stories of why they are important. What a gem JK Place Florence has in Claudio!

Later that afternoon, we decided to hit the famous leather market for some light shopping. Happy to say we walked out with new purses, belts and some gifts. We had a lovely dinner that evening at Buca Mario recommended by our concierge and then we set out to wander the city. We loved strolling the streets by night and found a lovely square with live music! We closed the night with martinis at Caffe Concerto Paszkowski in Piazza della Repubblica listening to live music under the stars. Perfection!

The next morning, we set off on our next adventure, Eating Europe! We signed up for a food adventure tour of Florence and had no idea what to expect. We had taken this kind of tour before in other cities so we were incredibly excited. We knew we were in for a treat when we met our tour guide LIsa, who is a native Australian and now lives in Florence with her family. Her love of Florence felt authentic as did her love for each family owned business that we had the good fortune of visiting and tasting their delights. From delicious coffees and pastries to sandwiches and cheeses, meats, gnocchi and gelato. We had 4 hours of lively conversation, a history lesson, delicious foods and made a few friends along the way. I believe so many of these tours are about the guide and the amazing people you meet along the way. Eating Europe really did a fantastic job on this one and as a travel agent, I look forward to booking many of these tours for my clients.

Till next time Florence! Arrivederci!

If you book JK Place Firenze through me, you receive the following perks:

  • 100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit
  • Complimentary Full breakfast for two daily
  • Property will offer early check-in upon availability, Property will offer late check-out upon availability
  • Property will offer upgrade upon availability at time of check-in
  • High-Speed/Enhanced Wi-Fi

Dinner at Buco Mario Check out website!

Eating Europe:

If you book through me, you will receive a discounted rate. Check out website!

ROME

Rome has always been my favorite city in the world. There is just something about how I feel when I am there. It feels like I am blessed with walking the same streets as the ancient Romans once walked and can share in their history.

I recently had a short 3 day trip to Rome and was fortunate enough to stay at the glorious Hotel Eden located at the top of the Spanish Steps. From the impeccable service, to the stunning rooftop restaurant, to the gorgeous guest room, this property was heavenly. The location is convenient but just enough off the beaten path to avoid the many tourists that visit Rome during high season.

Our included breakfast was served in the stunning rooftop area. With floor to ceiling windows and a gorgeous breakfast spread, we never wanted to leave. But there was more of Rome to explore!

We were wanting to keep our dining casual and not too expensive. The hotel concierge was spot on in selecting our locations perfectly. One night, we opted to head to the Trastevere area for dinner and to enjoy a fabulous festival along the Tiber River. This festival happens each summer and includes food, games, live music and shopping. It is truly a unique and fully Roman experience!

If you book Hotel Eden through my agency, you will receive the following perks:

Exclusive Amenities

  • Full Breakfast for each guest daily in the Il Giardino Ristorante
  • 85 Euros Food and Beverage credit, per room, per stay
  • Seasonal Welcome Amenity

The following amenities are subject to availability at the time of check-in/departure:

  • Upgrade
  • Early Check-In
  • Late Check-Out

Restaurants Recommended for casual dining but reservations a must:

Restaurant Maccheroni; Taverna Trilussa; Trattoria Tritone

Tiber River Festival Info: Lungo II Tevere

PARIS

Last week, I was fortunate enough to sail on the stunning Uniworld River Cruise, Joie de Vivre. The ship sailed roundtrip Paris with stops in Rouen, Vernon, and the powerful history of the beaches of Normandy.

Our last stop was an overnight in Paris. I was searching for something unique to do during our stay there. An experience that was not the traditional type of tour but one that would immerce us into Parisian life.

After searching online, I came across a company called Secret Food Tours. It sounded interesting and had fantastic reviews online. I decided on the Montmartre option as it has always been one of my favorite neighborhoods in Paris.

We arrived for our tour and met our guide, PJ (Pierre-Jean), at the subway stop. I was mesmerized by his history of the neighborhood and knew right away this was going to be a special day.

PJ proceeded to take us to local markets that included bakeries, cheese shops, butchers, wine stores and pastry shops. Each of these shop owners made their products with such pride and the recipes are steeped in tradition.

Following our shopping, we stopped at a landmark hotel where Edith Piaf used to sing outside on the street. We all were seated in a dining area, where PJ shared all of our purchases with us along with perfect wine pairings. Each course came with more stories and history of how the food was made. Our guide’s passion had no bounds.

I strongly recommend utilizing this tour company as they operate in many major cities. And if you are in Paris, request PJ as your guide and you can thank me later!

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