Florence is a chic and sophisticated city, so who else could be better to tell us all about it than a luxury lifestyle journalist? GowithOh has recently teamed up with Jessica Benavides Canepa from jbcanepa.com. Jessica has been travelling the globe with a true “Renaissance Woman’s voracity”, following her passions and desires in London, Paris and Shanghai to name a few. Currently she’s living in Sweden while working on her blogs, luxury related web-sites and as a PR consultant … but exploring the world will always be her true passion.
So, let’s start our Florence tour with Jessica!
A walking trip through Florence
Long before I became a luxury travel writer, traveling was my greatest passion. In 2009, I jumped at the opportunity to study art history in Florence for 6 months. Every morning on the way to class, I would walk across the famous Ponte Vecchio and stop for a coffee at my favorite local café. In the evenings, I’d meet friends at the main square (Piazza della Repubblica) and we’d go off to discover the city together. Throughout my stay, I fully immersed myself in my surroundings.
It was a glorious time and as my departure date approached, I vowed to return one day to experience the magic of Florence all over again. That opportunity came this March in the guise of an assignment for an international lifestyle magazine. As luck would have it, Ted, (my boyfriend of four years), was free to come along and share the adventure.
When deciding whether to book a hotel or rent a flat, GowithOh’s personalized service and excellent selection of apartments made it a no-brainer. Besides, I really wanted to show Ted what it was like to live like a local.
We opted for a modern, one-bedroom apartment in the trendy Santo Spirito neighborhood, a 15 minute walk from the center and just a stepping stone away from markets, restaurants and the beautiful Boboli Gardens. Upon arrival, our hostess, Ulrika, provided us with maps and a lovely welcome breakfast. The flat was cozy and meticulously cared for with a lot of fantastic natural light. A wonderful haven to come back to after exploring the city all day.
Speaking of which, soon after arriving we met up with Teresa, a very friendly and knowledgeable guide for the eco-conscious tour operator, Walks of Italy. We were escorted on a 3-hour romp through the city, entertaining us with sorted tales and anecdotes of the many monuments and historic characters we came across. It was an excellent way to introduce Florence to Ted (he’d never been to Italy before) and a wonderful walk down memory lane for me.
On our own, we discovered the town via leisurely strolls — often stopping to get gelato (or other tempting treats) or people watch in the busy squares. We also traveled to the neighboring Chianti wine region because as they say, when in Rome Florence, you must do as the natives do!
Wish I could say our trip was all fun and games, though. The truth about travel writing is that it can sometimes be quite stressful. Ted was on a full-on vacation, while for me it was more of a work/holiday/work thing. Every other morning I rose early to go out and gather information for my assignment — often returning well after dark. I was also feeling a little nervous about being in front of the camera instead of typing away behind the safety of my keyboard, as this time, we would be featured in the article as well.
As luck would have it, the apartment building had a romantic red lounge room where all tenants were permitted to unwind in the evenings. We used it to prepare for our big photo shoot. When the day finally arrived, we stood in front of the camera on my beloved Ponte Vecchio and for a brief moment, I pictured that energetic girl walking to school on the very spot where we now posed. Suddenly, all of my tension faded with the soothing realization that I had finally made it ‘home’ again.