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Travel
September 07, 2016

Archana Vijaya’s Romantic Guide To Florence

Illustrations by Shamanthi Rajasingham

The model, anchor and entrepreneur tells us about the best way to explore the historic city

I love Italy, and have been there many times. Recently I visited Florence in Tuscany — it’s amazing how the Italian landscape changes as you travel around. The city is absolutely stunning, steeped in history and architecture. It’s smaller than Rome, but boasts even better museums and historic sites. Every time I travel to Italy, I go to new places and they all manage to take my breath away!

Walk through time
I went to Florence on my honeymoon so it’s extremely special to me for obvious reasons. My husband and I went on a wonderful wine-tasting tour organised by the Castiglion del Bosco Estate in Tuscany, and that was really something else! We are both sight seekers, so just walking around at our own pace was lovely. We went to the Uffizi Gallery which has some of the finest art and sculptures I have ever seen — book online so you can avoid the long lines. Each building in the city has something to offer. My favourites are Palazzo Vecchio, and Il Duomo di Firenze or the Florence Cathedral, which is the most amazing piece of architecture I’ve ever seen. They’re all etched in my memory. I did a walking tour with a fabulous local tour guide, who took us to all the celebrated sites and also gave us the low-down on famous artists like Leonardo da Vinci, showing us his home and where he worked. And one must go up to the Piazzale Michelangelo for the most stunning views of Florence!

Fashion-forward
Italian fashion is amongst the best in the world, and I love shopping in the local boutiques around Florence. Along the Ponte Vecchio, you have little shops selling the most amazing pieces of jewellery; I bought myself a gorgeous ring which I’m completely in love with! They also stitch aprons with quirky stuff on the spot, and I had to get myself one of those too, as I love cooking (sometimes). I bought an amazing cut-out swimsuit from Yamamay as well.

Eat street
Around the Ponte Vecchio, there are quite a few good restaurants. I would highly recommend having the local sandwich, and also meals at Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina and Note di Vino. Italians love their food and wine, and that works beautifully for me. Also make it a point to visit small hole-in-the-wall places, as they stand a chance of being truly amazing. I know Italy is known for its pizza and pasta, but there’s a lot more on the menu, so don’t be afraid to experiment!

City secrets
You have to get off the beaten track. Go on a wine tour — it may seem like too much of an effort, but you’ll learn to appreciate pairings a lot more. Also, a walking tour is really great especially if you get a good local tour guide who can speak English — it’s the best way to get to know the hidden gems of any town!

Model, anchor and entrepreneur Archana Vijaya recently launched her e-commerce website, labelkiss.com. A travel enthusiast, she is most known for her appearances as a host on several seasons of the Indian Premiere League.

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