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Florence & Venice

A whirlwind visit to Florence and Venice in April with Kirker Holidays was a wonderful way to experience these two beautiful cities in just two days, although I personally would recommend a longer stay to fully appreciate them.


A flight into Pisa with a private transfer and we were in the city within the hour. florence-and-venice-002After a light lunch in a local trattoria we were met by Francesca our guide for a 3 hour walking tour. This is a perfect way to explore any city, although a good pair of comfortable shoes is a must!! A visit to see Il Porcellino the Italian piglet where it is said if you put a coin into the boar's gaping jaws hoping to let it fall through the underlying grating for good luck and then rub the boar's snout, this will ensure a return visit to Florence. We shall see!! The city's palaces and churches are full of glorious paintings and just walking the streets one encounters breath-taking views at every turn.

We were extremely lucky to be spending a night at The Villa Cora in Florence located in the hills just outside the city. It is a stunning Villa built at the end of the 19th century restoring all the original charm and architectural styles but with the added bonus of a spa, small gym and heated swimming pool for the cooler months.

florence-and-venice-001The following day we took the 2 hour train journey from Florence to Venice where we were met by our water taxi. A magical short ride along the labyrinth of canals, under bridges snapping photos as we went along, admiring the wonders of this city before arriving at the Londra Palace for our first stop. Situated close to St Mark's Square and with magnificent views of the lagoon we enjoyed a delightful lunch with Alain Bullo the general manager before embarking on another comprehensive walking tour which included a visit to the Doge's Palace and the Bridge of Sighs.

One of the best ways to see Venice is to simply get lost as you are never far away from one of the four major points – St Mark's Square, the Rialto Bridge, the Accademia Galley or the Ferrovia Santa Lucia (railway station). Venice certainly didn't disappoint and like everyone else I was overcome by the sheer beauty and serenity of this romantic city. An overnight stay at the St. Regis San Clemente Palace in a beautifully restored 17th century monastery located in the Venetian lagoon with wonderful views of the city was well received.

Our journey home was to experience a trip on the elegant Venice Simplon – Orient Express. It is 1920's luxury where you have that feeling of stepping back in time. The personnel service of our charming steward Rupert was unrivalled and I knew from the moment we boarded the train that we were in for an amazing experience. My cabin although small was extremely comfortable. I was able to enjoy the breath-taking scenery whilst soaking up the atmosphere of the golden-age of rail, taking yet more photos along the way. The cuisine was outstanding served in stylist dining cars, apart from breakfast which was continental and served to you personally in your cabin by your carriage steward. It is an unforgettable experience of a life-time and I would certainly recommend it those of you who have it on your travel wish list.

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