Posts filed under my florence

My Florence | Breakfast at Villa Cora

As our schedule seems to typically fall, we are often traveling over my birthday. Because of an early August birthday, I’ve been able to celebrate birthdays in some pretty lush places. Being the good man that he is, Tyler knows that the thing I love to do most when ushering in a new year of life is to find the prettiest breakfast possible to celebrate. It just feels like the biggest treat to me. 

While there may have been many fine hotel beds and bathtubs that made me swoon, what really seems to stand out to me in thinking back on great hotels is the breakfast. There’s just nothing more indulgent than waking up in a pretty room and wandering down to a pretty table and pretty, homemade food and hot delicious coffee. Its in those moment that I feel my brain get the warm fuzzies of complete travel bliss. 

For my 34th birthday (34!!!), we headed to Villa Cora below Piazzale Michaelangelo in Florence. We passed it a few nights earlier driving with a friend: it glowed on the hillside with pretty lighting and had an ambiance that made me wish I had a slinky ballgown to go dance on the terrace in. When I asked her what it was, she replied that it was called Villa Cora and was a gorgeous hotel. Call it fate, call it destiny.... but I knew then and there that was the place we needed to try this year.

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And I can’t say that it disappointed in anyway. The service was incredible, the setting was Florentine posh in all the best ways, the food was a mix between the Italian finest and made-to-order requests. (I mean, goodness, they serve their fruit on columns of ice.) The terrace to eat on overlooks the fountain and gardens and it just feels.... decadent.

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We for a couple of hours- no kids, no problem- enjoying every bite and sipping coffee and fresh cold press juices and any other item we had a whim to try. The staff was so sweet and didn’t rush us one bit.

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Afterwards, we were invited to explore the villa and gardens, enjoy a takeaway coffee and felt like we were actual hotel guests. 

We wandered down into the garden and sat on a white couch and Tyler obliged me by spending the next hour doing one of my other most beloved activities: financial planning. Ha! How fun of a date am I? But seriously, I love having time to chat through big picture ideas and after a a nice, relaxed morning- it was the perfect time to go through it.

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Would I recommend going to Villa Cora for breakfast in Florence? Yes! It’s €35 per person and a great option for a celebration or girly morning out. I’d recommend calling before you go to get a table reserved on the terrace, as that really is the best seat in the house and seating is quite limited.


VILLA CORA | Viale Machiavelli, 18, 50125 Firenze FI | +39 055 228790


Find more of my favourite places in Florence in my travel guide.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on September 25, 2018 and filed under florence, italy, marriage, my florence.

Tuscany Day Trip | Montepulciano

I convinced Tyler and our friends, Geraldine and Grant, to go to Montepulciano for the day while we were lounging around the villa one day. I had gone years ago and was itching to show them what a cute town it was. After they relented to my less-than-subtle nudges, we hopped in the car and drove an hour and a half. When we got there, I soon realized- I had actually been to Montelcino and had never been to Montepulciano before. Oops.

The good news for all of us was that this town was WAY better than I had expected to show them. Lucky for them (and me!), we got to spend a wonderful day exploring this charming town once run by the Medici family and still known today for its world class wines.

Plus, rolling the word "Montepulciano" off your tongue is one of the funnest things ever said.


MONTEPULCIANO
 

GETTING THERE

To drive from Florence (which is the best way, since it's really complex to reach otherwise), you'll take an easy 90 drive south, past Siena. Park in one of the paid lots and wander in through one of the various city gates. We parked in lot #1 and it was a great starting point.

You can walk straight from the parking lot and into town. From there, it was a windy and colorful stroll up through into the city center. Along the way, expect fruit stalls, tiny artists' shops and touristy stops full of leather purses and ceramic goodies.

 

WHAT TO DO

This isn't going to be a day-trip that has a big bullet-point list that comes with it. Your main objectives for the day are to relax, catch some great views from the endless alleyways and vistas, and eat/drink well along the way.

You can make it up to the Piazza Grande (admittedly, a tiresome endeavor with a baby stroller) and enjoy the piazza life from there. Grab a cup of (delicious artisan!) gelato from the tiny cafe right in the square for a real treat. Or if you're feeling more energetic, you cna pay €4 to climb up to the top of the Terrazza del Palazzo Comunale for sweeping views of the Tuscan hills surrounding you.

 

WHAT TO EAT

If wine is your game, then you've got countless vineyards surrounding the town you can visit as this is the home of the famous vino nobile. The larger vineyards offer amazing lunches in gorgeous settings... along with pricetags that pair well with such an opulent experience. Some of the most famous vineyards in the Montepulciano area are Avignonesi and Contucci Cantine.

 

C’era Una Volta is a restaurant that sits outside the historic city walls. If you don’t have a car, it’s not for you, but if you do have a car (and especially if you ha e kids!), go here. It looks non-descript from the road- but as you walk up, a tiny little restaurant will open up. Opt for a table in the outdoors, if it’s nice. If you have kids, they’re welcome to play in the tiny little kid barn- complete with a play pen stocked with toys! Dream scene. The food is delicious- the homemade eggplant parmigiana is the best started you’ll have for a while. Don’t miss the chance to order the kid the “Peppa Pig” pizza- complete with pointy ears, olive eyes and a prosciutto nose.

 

Where to Stay

Villa Nobile is a private house- actually, a family friend's house that we rented. However, its location in Montepulciano and its amenities (Hello infinity pool overlooking Tuscan hillside!) make it a relaxing home during your stay in Tuscany. The owners will help coordinate meals, cooking classes, wine tasting and a cleaner, but to be honest, you’ll feel just as spoiled simply having dinner on the patio with its sprawling views. If you go, make sure you look through their list of local recommendations for helpful local suggestions.


Tuscany is a great place to take day trips- really for any type of traveler. If you're young and looking to explore- these small, friendly towns are nearly fail proof adventures. If you're a couple looking for some romantic spots and lonely cafes, these towns offer it. If you're a family craving some culture, but feel exhausted by big cities- small towns like Montepulciano are a great middle ground. (Plus so many of the streets are pedestrian only, you don't have to worry about cars. Let those kids run free!)


 

Find more of my Italy posts here and my series on Tuscan day trips here.

 



 

*images original to aspiring kennedy by grant schol

 

Florence | La Menagere

 

Once upon a time, I was a camp counselor and had a hilarious camper named Grant. We would sit in the craft shed- me, a fresh college graduate, and him, a quick-witted 14 year-old, laughing and talking throughout afternoon in the Arkansas heat. Fast-forward 10 years. Grant has recently moved to Florence and works as a colleague of mine in our Florence program.

While we are here this summer, we get to see Grant everyday and he has been giving us a fresh look at a city we love so much. We get great facts along our walks through the city, funny translations of Italian and, most importantly, the great new spots to go to when in Florence.

La Menagere is a place that Grant picked out for us to try long before our arrival. When we ventured into town one day, the mood felt right and we scurried over that way. Walking up to it, I knew that- 100% sure- this was a place I would love. (I am pretty sure that you will, too!)

 

LA MENAGERE

 

When you first walk in, you're going to notice the amazing design of this space. The interiors are very cool- almost as if built as a set for a Nancy Meyers movie.

 

 

Then, you'll notice the chic army of waiters quietly scurrying around the restaurant. From their denim aprons to their perfecty-groomed facial hair, they somehow match the setting as if an interior designer worked them into her plans.

 

 

Now, for the important part: the food.  Expect traditional items with a twist for the menu. We started with the Insalata Caprese- hot & cold. It consisted of a tomato soup with basil croutons and an island of mozzerella ice cream. It was a fun version of something that I've had a hundred times before... but in a way that didn't feel sacreligious.

 

 

For the mains, we all tried something different. Toasted gnocchis, cocoa raviolis and a candied lemon and poppyseed risotto with salty cheese. The combinations were unlikely, but the execution was perfect.

 

We made it a real party and brought our friends, Mat & Kelsey + their kids. I wouldn't say this restaurant is best enjoyed with kids, but I will say they did an awesome job taking care of ours. They had high chairs and offered to make simple options for them that weren't listed on the menu. Plus, there is a lot of space to walk around and explore while you wait for food without feeling like everyone is staring at you.

 

Put La Menagere on your list for your trip to Florence. Whether you are stopping by to pick up a small item from their cool boutique, a coffee from their bistro or a formal lunch- this is a great stop for any foodies & design-hounds headed to Italy.

 

LA MENAGERE | Via de'Ginori 8r. Florence, 50123. +39.055.0750.600. Open daily from 07:00am - 02:00am. 

 



 

*images by Grant Schol

 

Posted on August 22, 2016 and filed under eat, italy, travel, florence, my florence.