I never let a chance go by to visit France or Italy so when I was offered a place on a Leading Hotels of the World educational in Northern Italy in March this year, I did not pass it up!
Whilst the weather was still on the chilly side what could be better than great hotels and Italian hospitality. Our first stop was Venice at the Palazzo Bauer Hotel. Perfectly located hotel just minutes away from Piazza San Marco on the Grand Canal. Gondolas glide down the little canal beside the hotel and the bar and outdoor area mean that when weather permits, it is a perfect spot to sit and enjoy an aperitivo and watch the boats and the activity on the lagoon. So much to see and do from museums to churches to galleries selling wonderful pieces of Murano glass so skillfully created by master glass blowers.
Next stop was the breathtakingly beautiful Lago di Como and Il Sereno on the banks of the lake not far from Como. This luxury hotel is the newest to open on the Lake for some time and the architecture is in stark contrast to the villas and houses of this popular holiday spot. Only 40 rooms all featuring lake views, infinity pool suspended over the lake, spa and a One Star Michelin restaurant. A short walk from the hotel is a ferry dock where you can catch regular ferries to anywhere on the lake including Bellagio.
On to Florence, another one of my favourite cities. The food and hospitality in Venice and Lake Como was outstanding but it goes up a notch when you get to Tuscany. Our stop in Florence was the incredibly beautiful Villa Cora, a palazzo dating back to the end of the XIX century. Just out of the historical centre of Florence in a park overlooking the Boboli Gardens. We arrived on a Sunday around lunch time at the height of their regular Sunday Brunch. We had never seen anything like the selection of beautifully prepared tuscan food all served in a grand ballroom with frescoed ceilings. I was in my element! Over the next couple of days we experienced a private opera recital, back stage tour of the Teatro della Pergola, shopping and incredible food and friendship from our Italian hosts.