It’s time to hit the road again and, as usual, we have something special planned. (So what else is new?)
In just a few hours, AAC CPA and I will make our way to JFK where, early this evening, we’ll depart for a 3-week adventure. We’ll start with our usual BA flight to London’s Heathrow airport, and then we’ll make our way to London City Airport, where we’ll board a flight bound for Firenze.
Our winged chariot to fly us across the Atlantic on our way to Firenze
By this time tomorrow, we’ll be beautifully ensconced at the Portrait Firenze, part of the Lungarno Collection. This property is very close to the Ponte Vecchio, a landmark that no visitor to Firenze is likely to miss.
Our digs in Firenze – yup, that’s the Ponte Vecchio practically next door
The Duomo, one of the most famous sights in town
Our original plan was to stay in Firenze for 3 nights, and then fate intervened. The centerpiece of this vacation will be our rental of a villa near the town of Città di Castello in Perugia. We are sharing said villa with our wonderful and very glamorous friends, Christine and Marty. They have been to Italy on numerous occasions and “know the territory”. They’re also great fun.
Anyway, as I was saying – 3 nights in Firenze and then on to the villa. That was the plan until several months ago when Marty asked me for my opinion of James Taylor. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I don’t have much of an opinion, as my musical tastes run mostly to theatre and classical music.
It turns out that a good friend of Marty’s is Lou Marinia (a/k/a “Blue Lou” Marini) who, aside from being an extremely talented saxophonist, arranger and composer, also happens to be a part of the James Taylor band. And wouldn’t you just know that JT is touring Europe this summer. And what a coincidence that JT, along with Bonnie Raitt and the band, is going to be giving an open-air concert at the Piazza Napoleone in Lucca the night before we take possession of the villa! And, if Lucca is only an hour away from Firenze, wouldn’t it make sense to attend said concert, especially if Lou offered to “set us up”?
James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt will sing in Lucca on Friday night
So, between our (now) 2 days in Firenze and moving onto our villa, we’ll have an exciting detour to Lucca to hang with JT, Bonnie and the band (well, maybe not “hang”, but you get the idea).
Spending the night in Lucca at the charming Alla Corte Degli Angeli
And, then, onto our Villa!
A word about the villa – AAC CPA and I have never done anything like that before. We’re tried and true hotel habitants. And we like it that way. However, when we started talking to Christine and Marty about spending some time together in Italy, the notion of having our own place seemed irresistible. So we all headed to the internets and one of us (I don’t recall who it was), came up with this place. If the reality is half as good as the pictures we’ve seen, we’re going to have a blast.
I’ve established a good relationship with “La Padrona”, a British woman named Carole, and she’s been great, answering all of our questions and giving us lots of great tips about the area.
The villa is beautifully laid out, features a 42-foot pool and a music room with a Beckstein baby grand. As Christine and Marty are in “the show business” and very musically inclined, we’ll have beautiful music wafting through the house.
Our sitting room
One of the two master bedrooms
Our music room with Beckstein baby grand
Our pool with stunning views of our olive grove
We also have access to a personal chef, who will be happy to cook for us on request. As AAC CPA has a birthday while we’re in residence, we’ll avail ourselves of her services.
The closest town is Città di Castello, a mere 8 kilometers away.
The beautiful Cittá di Castello
After 10 days at the villa, AAC CPA and I will bid a fond “addio” to Christine and Marty and drive up to Venezia, one of our favorite cities in the world. This will be our 5th visit to this enchanted place and, rather than stay at our usual digs, the Cipriani, we’ve decided (on the advice of our very good friend, Billy Z) to stay at the Aman, located on the Grand Canal and just a short distance from the Rialto Bridge.
The hotel, opened in 2013, is the former Palazzo Papadopoli and, we’ve been told, no expense has been spared. There are fewer than 25 rooms at the hotel and the location is superb.
Palazzo Papadopoli, ca. 1890
And, now, the Aman Venice with the Rialto Bridge in the distance
The hotel garden on the Grand Canal
The Mirror Lounge
The Dining Room
We have some really fun escapades planned for our 4 days in town, which I hope to share with you when they happen.
From Venezia, we’ll wing our way to London – our last stop – for 4 days. Lucky us – this will be our 3rd visit to London this year. We’ll be back at the Shangri-La at the Shard, our favorite property in London right now. And, over our last few visits, we’ve discovered that it’s located in a great neighborhood.
The Shangri-La, located on the upper floors of the Shard
Allora, that’s the plan. Some familiar things, some new things, and I haven’t even told you about our plans for eating. For the most part, you can’t go wrong in Italy when it comes to food (not to mention wine), but we’ve got some nice things planned.
Stay tuned, amici, and – if you can’t be bothered with these blog posts – you can definitely find me on Istagram – jefftakespix