Staff Review

A Tuscan weekend in Florence and Siena

by The Kirker Team

My mum had a special birthday coming up and after much deliberation on what to give her, I decided to do what I know best and organised a holiday to Florence and Siena for us. I am originally from the Midlands, so I understand how frustrating it can be researching flights from regional airports, or having to travel to London. My mum was very impessed with the Monarch Airlines flights I booked for us from Birmingham into Rome. As with all Kirker holidays, we had hold luggage and pre-assigned seating included, and I was very surprised at how comfortable the flight was. When we arrived in Rome, we had our Kirker driver waiting for us and within a few moments we were in a luxury saloon car on our way to the station to catch our train to Florence. I was quite excited (my mum less so) that I was going to try the new Italo high-speed rail service. This service had been running for a short time and the trains are very modern and in excellent condition. There are three classes of service (standard, first and club class) - as it was a special occasion, we travelled in club class, which is in the carriage at the end of the train. It really is the most pleasant way to travel around Italy; there are only 19 spacious leather seats so the attendant can offer you a much more personal service. There are also two separate compartments in this carriage where four people can sit in some privacy - perfect if you are travelling as a family or a small group. While on board you also have a complimentary drink and snack and each seat has its own personal entertainment screen with a number of English movies stored on it.' 'We arrived quite late in the evening in Florence and went directly to the Hotel Antica Torre where we were staying for the night. I had heard so many glowing reports about this boutique private residence from colleagues and Kirker clients, that I was very excited about being able to stay there. Although late, there was still time to pop up to the bar on the top floor before the light faded to take in the wonderful panoramic views of the city and enjoy an aperitivo - before a delicious local dinner, at a restaurant recommended by the Kirker Concierge. The Italians do know how to enjoy life! We then returned to our room and my mum's reaction reassured me that I had chosen well. Kirker only offer renovated rooms in the Palazzo Gianfigliazzi and they are all beautifully appointed in a traditional Florentine style.' 'We woke up early the next morning to enjoy our day of sightseeing. Many people have reservations about staying in an Italian city on a Monday as museums are often closed. However, although most of the museums were closed in Florence, there is still so much to see and do. We visited the Duomo and the Baptistery - even braving the many steps to enjoy the wonderful views from the top of Giotto's tower (there really are lots of steps, so it is not for the faint hearted!). We also entered Santa Croce Church which is definitely worth a visit and a highlight for me. Many hotels offer special offers for arrival on Sundays and cities are often quieter mid-week, whilst there are plenty of restaurants in the Kirker guide notes which are open on Mondays.' 'In the late afternoon we travelled to Siena. I had been briefly before for lunch when I was exploring the Tuscan countryside but this was my mum's first visit. We walked through the winding medieval streets to find our hotel, the Grand Hotel Continental. This is the only 5* property right in the heart of the city and it is just a short walk from the Piazza del Campo where the famous 'Palio' takes place in the summer - speak to us if you are considering visiting for this spectacle. During the recent renovations of the hotel, they discovered the original wine cellars, and they now arrange wine tasting sessions here. There is so much history throughout the hotel: the Palazzo was originally a gift from the Pope to a local nobleman. Many original features remain, from the wonderful frescoes on the first floor to the wooden beams on higher floors.' 'Many people think of Siena as just a day trip from Florence but it really deserves more than that, and is worth a visit in itself. The rooms in the Palazzo Pubblico can match any of the buildings in Florence, Rome or Venice. We also visited the Duomo - the black and white marble façade has a very alluring beauty and the inside does not disappoint either. Aside from the art and architecture, this is also somewhere that gives a sense of being in a true Italian town - many of the day trippers leave in the evening and there are a number of restaurants off the main Piazza which offer local dishes at local prices.

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Our expert reservations team regularly travel to a wide range of destinations to explore new cities, visit hotels and to research museums, galleries and restaurants so that we can offer the most up-to-date advice and recommendations.


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