We started our yearly trek to Italy once more in the city of Udine. It is very convenient to spend the night there, before venturing further south, since five hours of car travel are plenty for two young children.
We had a fantastic lunch at Osteria di Villafredda in the tiny hamlet of Loneriacco. It is near a castle and offers great food and a view that immediately relaxes the eye and the mind. A drink on the Piazza in downtown Udine later left me completely tipsy and happy (they know how to make their Aperol Spritz!).
Osteria di Villafredda
Our hotel is a little outside of Udine, in Tricesimo. The view from our balcony never fails to get us into vacation mode. Life as usual gets left behind and we slide into the Italian way of life, which is slower, focused on sensual pleasures and infinitely more fun.
View from the balcony of Hotel Continental, Tricesimo
My two little soldiers adore Italy, if it were up to them, they would happily spend their lives eating pasta and running wild. Italians are so much more accommodating with kids, it doesn’t matter when they don’t sit quietly all the time, they joke with them, they bring them extra food and the boys relish the attention and revel in their status of being “belli biondi” (beautiful blonds).
The next day we went on to Florence. I didn’t plan out a whole itinerary of cultural exposure, since I would have only frustrated myself, we’ll keep the heavy museum tour for another time. Instead we wanted to explore the city on foot wherever the road took us, so to say. I wanted to boys to enjoy themselves, not complain about stuff all the time.
It worked out rather well that way, although many of you will probably be horrified that we did not get to the Uffizi or the Palazzo Vecchio. We did extensively walk the Giardini Boboli, saw the Palazzo Pitti, the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition and Santa Maria Novella.
Our hotel was conveniently located near the Porta Romana in a quiet tree-lined street (Via Niccolo Macchiavelli) and looked fabulous. An old villa slightly gone to seed, but still exuding old-world glamour. It had a garden that might be best described as enchanted, with green labyrinths, hidden nooks and crannies, old statues and fountains, in short a children’s paradise.
Entrance of the Classic Hotel in Florence
Our third child, Dr O’s love of his life
In the Boboli Gardens
Fountain at Boboli
In Florence I steered my troops in the direction I wanted them to, of course, which was to the local Hermès boutique and to several profumerias. By now my children think it is completely normal and the done thing to visit perfume shops when abroad (or at home for that ;) )
The first interesting store was the Olfattorio, Bar a Parfum. I asked the SA whether I was allowed to make a few photos with my phone, but she didn’t allow it and wanted me to ask her boss (who was not there). I complied of course, but I honestly don’t quite see the damage some exposure on a blog could do to a store… (enlighten me if you can!)
Despite the no photo rule, I had come with a purpose and was not to be deterred. I wanted a summery perfume that didn’t require thinking and Diptyque Geranium Odorata was just it. It sounds like I’m damning it with faint praise, but I am not, I’m really happy with the L’Eau line of Diptyque and currently own three of them (Neroli, Lavande and now Geranium, reviews are hopefully in my and your near future). To make up for the photo embargo, the SA showered me with samples and I left as a very happy Perfumista.
Entrance to the Olfattorio
The next stop was the perfumery of Santa Maria Novella, a ringing name in the world of perfume, this old monastery still sells potions, creams and perfumes based on formulas from the 17th century (or so the PR lore says).
Piazza di Santa Maria Novella
It was hot, the boys were tired (all three of them) and time was short, so I didn’t dally for too long, since Niki fell asleep on the stairs I quickly purchased my Pasta di Mandorle (the best handcream ever!!!) and smelled a few perfumes, among the standouts for me were Zagara, an orange blossom cologne and Tobacco Toscano, a sweet tobacco vanilla scent. I didn’t care so much for the famed Melograno, but maybe I’m doing it a disservice by not actually trying it on skin. The line comprises over 40 perfumes, so I’m looking forward to finding a few more surprises next time…
Interior of SMN pharmacy – impressive.
Young Master Paul professionally checking out the fragrance display.
A nap and some drinks later we moved on and eventually spent another two days leisurely strolling the city, having excellent food three times a day (as you should!!!) and enjoyed ourselves.
The Palazzo Pitti
Sculpture in the Amphitheatre of the Pitti
Dr O in his Dolce Far Niente get-up. (Paul in the background can’t quite believe his eyes).
After almost a week on the road we went to our beloved seaside hotel on the Adriatic coast, the Hotel Maracaibo in Jesolo Pineta. This was the place the boys spent their summer for the past five years, and I am bit nostalgic, because it was the last time this summer. The boys are big enough now for us to venture further and show them a bit more of the world.
That said, we enjoyed our last vacation there like never before. It was such a relaxing and quietly peaceful time, I find myself wishing I was still there. (Which is a first as vacations with the boys tended to be more exhausting than anything else, but age has made them wiser by now ;) )
After a week of lounging by the pool, eating our body weight in fresh, delicious Italian fare and evenings of long talks on the veranda we made our way home to Vienna.
My fragrant souvenirs of this lovely summer are the two Diptyques, Eau de Lavande (brought back for me from the US by the ever generous Dr O who was in Oregon right before the Italy adventure began) and Geranium Odorata from Florence, and one more perfume I discovered and had to immediately buy, because it was love at first sniff – and continues to enchant me – Acqua di Parma Rose Nobile. More on that later…
Thanks for making it this far. If you are still reading you are in for a chance to win some of the newest addition to the Acqua di Parma Nobile line, Rosa Nobile (a 5ml sample drawn from my bottle) that is to be released widely in September.
Please leave a comment on this post about your ideal vacation destination to enter the giveaway. I’ll let random.org draw a winner in one week’s time.