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Candelaria Design Tour Italy September 2016 - Our Day In Florence

Well I’m already back from our September 2016 Tour Italy and now I am catching up the blogs – only because we had such a great trip and packed so much in. Each trip gets better and better and this one topped the charts. Our 14th trip and what a journey and experience it was.


First and foremost, I want to thank my Associate, Evelyn Jung, who puts this trip together each year. WOW what a fabulous itinerary featuring a number of new venues and experiences. Second, I want to thank all of my September 2016 travelers – you were fantastic! The friendships and bond we created over the course of these 14 days will last a lifetime. I love how everyone already is organizing get togethers…..that’s more of what this trip is about than just the travel.


So I will catch the blogs up as we go through the next few weeks. I think my travelers will enjoy this format better anyway as it will give them a chance to relive the adventure.

A Day in Florence

So we departed on Wednesday and arrived on Thursday and finished that long day with the fabulous meal on the terrace at the Villa la Vendetta. Not a bad start and as it turned out that evening was one of the favorites of my travelers during the trip.

With a good night sleep – our first in Italy – at the Hotel Brunelleschi, we were up early the next morning to go on my morning walk. I love starting my tour with this walk as it gives my travelers a great little lesson for all of their trips to come – a morning walk before all the tourists arrive gives you the opportunity to virtually own the city and see it in a still, calm and quiet light. It gives you a chance to experience a busy place one-on-one. I love it and I had a big group and we explored quite a bit of the city from the Duomo, to the San Lorenzo Market, to the Santa Maria Novella church to the Arno River and the St. Regis Grand Hotel and the Westin Excelsior Hotels…which we would revisit at the end of the day…..the Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi and the Palazzo Vecchio. Great way to start the day.


Then it was off to the hotel for a nice breakfast and then I debated – nap or climb Giotto’s Bell Tower at the Duomo…..well my travelers….namely Jim Steg – convinced me to keep going and climb the tower, which we did and which I always enjoy. What a spectacular view of the city of Florence.

Now – I was able to go back and snag a power nap with Isabel!!! Definitely another key to travel – get those power naps in and stay hydrated!!!

With the power nap done it was pizza time and so off we went to the San Lorenzo Market and the new Mario Batali Eataly up on the second floor. Ok this was the second Eataly I had now been to in a month – the one at the World Trade Center in New York and now this one in Florence! Yes, I am a Mario Batali fan! I just love the sounds and smells of this place. We enjoyed a delicious pizza and a cold beer and then we did some more shopping and exploring of Florence. While the ladies shopped I enjoyed the sights and sounds of the street.


Theresa and Jim Steg, Walter Spitz and Michele Watts

Kimberly Banach, Theresa Steg and Isabel in Firenze

With a second power nap in it was time for cocktails at the hotel bar and then a fabulous dinner on the street at the Buca San Giovanni Ristorante right in front of the Duomo. Anyone who has been on my trip knows what a special and fun evening this is. From the lavish pomp and circumstance of the dinner the first night we relax and unwind with dinner on the street the second night…..again I love experiencing and exposing my travelers to the contrasts here in Italy. The food and atmosphere were fantastic and I was able to silence the street and get a nice applause for some of my opera signing! Finsih things off with a little limoncello, grappa and a cigar - What fun!!!

Part of the crew dining on the streets in Firenze

Walter Spitz serving the vino in Firenze

Phil Giltner, Walter Spitz and Renee Giltner in Firenze


From there we walked across town to the Arno River and back to the Westin Excelsior rooftop bar where we enjoyed a night cap, fun stories, and laughter under the star filled sky of Florence. 

Isabel, Kenny Moskowitz, Kimberly and Rob Banach