Sunday, 18 January 2015

Birthday Prosecco in Firenze

Four years ago we decided to head for Florence for my birthday treat and we chose the Hotel degli Orafi beside the green Arno and the Ponte Vecchio as the place to rest our weary heads after days full of exploring and art. On checking in we found out we'd been upgraded to a suite in one of the towers (like many hotels, it is a converted palace) but I didn't know why - I assumed it was simply that it wasn't terribly busy at that point in the down season.

The next morning was my birthday so we headed down to the breakfast room to fill up against the rigours of the day and what a wonderful breakfast room it was - it wins hands down for its painted ceiling and chandeliers, views over the Arno to the Ponte Vecchio (about 20 yards away) and the amazing array of foodstuffs waiting to be sampled.  Then out into the chilly Firenze morning, with strangely empty streets but with the ice cream shops still open (what a sensible city). Fifteen minutes later and we were outside San Marco, the motherlode for Fra Angelico works since he painted each of the monks cells with different frescoes to help their meditations and help them focus on their god and heaven.

Then it was time for lunch and a sit down and we wandered down a side street beside the Medici Palace to a lovely little restaurant that was full of workers having their (long) lunches with lovely food and bottles of Moretti beer. I was honoured to join them and scoff some lovely food with a couple of glasses of Moretti.

After a long lunch it was time to slowly meander back to the hotel via il Duomo (obv) and exploring more side streets to see what was there. Ten minutes after we got back to the suite there was a knock on the door and a waiter was waiting with a heavy silver-plated tray with a bottle of prosecco, lemon cake and a small bowl of salted peanuts. Eh? Sorry, I haven't ordered anything I say, but in he walks and puts the tray on the kitchen table before bowing and leaving.  I look at the shiny offerings on the silver tray, with delicate flute glasses and thinking that 'cake looks nice', when I notice a little envelope with my name written on the front. I open it and there was a little card that said 'happy birthday and we hope you enjoy your stay'.

I've stayed in loads of hotels around the world on my birthday but never have I had this kind of service or attention to detail. That explains the room upgrade and now the gift of prosecco and cake. What a lovely touch and such great attention to detail. That's what you want from a hotel and here is a hotel that proves that it really does happen. I hope I wasn't too gushing in my thanks at reception when we left to go to dinner that evening.

This does, of course, mean that I have a preferred hotel for my next trips to Florence. It's such a lovely and convenient hotel that it would be a favourite anyway. A mere 20 yards to the Ponte Vecchio one way and 20 yards to the Ufizzi gallery the other way, 15 minutes walk to San Marco and 20 minutes to Santa Croce and the glory of Giotto - what more could you want? And on the banks of the green Arno too.

My mother visited Florence in about 1950. I have one photo of her there, smiling and proud beside the statue of the wild boar fountain outside the covered market.  Dip your fingers in the water of the small fountain and you will return to Florence. I sought out that fountain on my first trip to Florence. His snout has gone all shiny with people rubbing it for luck. My mother didn't return but I did. And I will again and I fully intend staying in the Hotel degli Orafi.


Florence Hotel 4 stars said...

Greetings from Florence! See you soon in our hotel!

Owen said...

Thank you! Sadly you full on my trip to Firenze a week ago but you remain my favourite! So, next time…