An oasis under the Florentine sun

My magical night at the Four Seasons Firenze

Florence, or Firenze, is known for its duomos, its terracotta rooftops, its gelato, and its awe-inspiring Uffizi Gallery. It's a city where you can eat a cacio e pepe good enough for the David himself, behold the beauty of early musical notation, and traipse around churches, shops, and restaurants studded in history. The streets may be narrow and crowds may be dense, but that doesn't stop the experienced history- and food-lover from spending some quality time in Italy's sparkling crown jewel.

While I could go on forever about the butteriness and char of a steak Florentine spritzed lightly with lemon, I'm here to focus on one of the finest experiences any traveler can experience in Firenze: a stay at the Four Seasons.

Any luxury traveler will know of the spectacular reputation of the Four Seasons, but perhaps their most transcendent hotel is located in the once historic 15th century Palazzo Scala Della Gherardesca. When I had the unlikely fortune to stay there for one magical evening, I was placed in a room in the 16th century Conventino, which yes, used to house nuns. But you would hardly believe it.

Four Seasons Florence

Opulence is an understatement when referring to the Four Seasons in Firenze. The sheer sight of the gardens, greenery, pool, and stately villas are enough to lower even the most stressed traveler's blood pressure. While life is a little crazy in the city center, this oasis is tucked away on a sprawling escape in what one might as well call, Paradise.

The gardens are fit with cobbled footpaths, stone contemplation benches, and floral archways. I found it difficult to even read a book there. It's sometimes better to just sit and listen to the wind through the trees and the soothing call of birds. The grounds are maintained to perfection; I found not one twig or leaf out of place.

Four Seasons Florence

The pool, a little over 91 feet long, is enclosed by stone with water a luscious shade of aqua: not at all like the all-purpose-cleaner-blue you see at other pools. The pool is flanked by a fleet of luxurious chaise lounges equipped with cushions, towels, and canopies to protect you from the bright Florentine sun. There, you could enjoy being spritzed like a steak Florentine with fresh orange water and delivered cocktails on command.

Are you already salivating? We didn't even get inside yet.

Four Seasons Florence

The first thing you notice about the lobby is the David-like statue (let's call him Alfredo) standing heroically in the center, looking down on bouquets of fresh cut flowers, lounging hotel guests, and dollies packed tightly with luggage. The staff is attentive, caring and considerate to the last detail, reflecting the luxurious look of the hotel with their attitudes. I wouldn't think it would be such a tough job to work there.

Four Seasons Florence

I got a Junior Suite, from which I had a stunning view of the gardens through the French windows, gorgeously draped in rich fabrics. I always judge a hotel by its bathroom, and this one had two! Plus an extravagant European soaking tub and vanity. The bathroom was big enough to sleep in. The rest of the room was drenched in ornate wood furnishings, fresh flowers, and portraits of Italian noblemen. I felt like I was truly part of another era.

My day at the Four Seasons was spent thusly: walking along the garden paths, munching croissants at the pool, turning in for a spaghetti pomodoro and prosecco (or five) in the outdoor terrace of their Michelin-star restaurant, Il Palagio, and enjoying live piano music in the lobby while sipping a delightful blueberry and Limoncello cocktail.

When you're through with the bustle of the city of Florence, there's no more calming place to retire than the Four Seasons. You can get lost here, and you might just not ever want to be found.

For more information about how to book your stay at the Four Seasons Firenze, click here!

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Finally, we are done with 2020! Between all the highs and lows, it felt like 5 years packed into one, so I'm excited to start fresh in 2021. I'm taking my New Year's resolutions to the next level: cook more, read more, and get back to things I truly love like arts & crafts and morning runs (okay, most likely walks).

Honestly, I could go on forever about the new year, new me thing but actually getting started is my biggest hurdle. I realized that my motivation comes from my mood which directly relates to my environment … and for the past year, my house has been my habitat. So, it's not looking too great after all the wear and tear. The dirt and the mess have accumulated right under my nose.

It's not that I'm bad at it, I just feel so overwhelmed. When my house is clean, I feel much more in control and motivated, and right now it's far from it. When I was venting about my cleaning woes the other day, my friend recommended Handy.

Handy allows you to book local professional cleaners and sign up for monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly plans. Plus, you can schedule appointments at a time that works for you with availability 7 days a week from 7am-11pm. So to get me in the right headspace to tackle my goals, I'm going to be signing up for Handy. I'm looking forward to letting the experts take over.

Although having people in your home may sound a bit strange right now, Handy has rolled out the Handy Safety Standard to help promote the health and safety of the customers and professionals who use their platform. Some of these measures include requiring Pros to wear face coverings during bookings and mandatory daily in-app check-ups to verify they are in good health before claiming a booking. They even have a section on their site dedicated to keeping customers and professionals updated on the latest CDC health and safety guidance.

To top everything off, all of the Cleaning Pros booked through Handy are vetted and background checked. And you can even check out each Pro's ratings and reviews before you book.

Once my house is in order, the fresh feeling will have a domino effect on so many other areas of my life:

✔ Read More

Lying on my cozy couch without inhaling all the dust I'd chosen to ignore, despite my clear uptick in sneezing the last few months. My reading list is chock-full of thrillers and fantasy. And with my new clean slate, I've even added some books about organization.

✔ Get Cooking

Nothing makes cooking more enjoyable than a sparkling kitchen. I'm inspired by a clean space and all the new recipes I'll be whipping up in 2021 already have me drooling.

✔ More Exercise (aka walking!)

I won't feel guilty getting out for a walk on-the-daily when I know I'm not neglecting any household chores thanks to Handy. And when I come home I'm not greeted by any reminders to clean.

You can specify exactly what you want to be cleaned before your Pro arrives and if you like them, you can request to have the same Pro come every time. I can already imagine how exciting it will be to walk into my spotless space.

I cannot wait to book my cleaning through Handy so I can get my 2021 resolutions rolling. My New Year is all about my wellness and my environment plays such a big part in it. I'm signing up for bi-weekly appointments. But their plans are super flexible and if I need, I can always change to a weekly or monthly cleaning plan — sometimes they even have bookings available as soon as the next day!

With Handy, I'm leaving that rough 2020 in the dust and jumping into 2021 feeling fresh and ready-to-go.

Update: Handy is offering a limited time discount for our readers! Follow this link today to get a special offer on your first time cleaning plan.

This perfect low-key vacation is not your average camping experience.

Locations

Atlanta, Austin & San Antonio, Boston, Charlotte & Raleigh, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh & Cleveland, Portland, and Washington, DC.

Getaway's outposts are a maximum 2-hour drive from these major cities.

getaway cabin all seasons

Why Getaway?

It's an escape for the always on. Leave your work, technology and worries at home, and lean into an experience that allows you to reconnect and center yourself in nature.

Each cabin features 1 (or 2) queen-sized bed as well as a full indoor bathroom, both heat and a/c, and reliable electricity. The kitchen is stocked with food staples and cookware and there is a fire pit and outdoor seating. All cabins are family-friendly and dogs are permitted.

getaway essentials

Booking & Price

Book through the Getaway site. Cabins fit 1 - 4 guests and cost as low as $129 a night.

Safety

Cabins are already distanced (50-150' feet apart) from one another and go through a deep disinfection process between guest stays. Check-in is contactless, and each guest accesses their cabins through a personalized key code.

getaway activities

UPDATE: Plan Your Winter Escape Today With Getaway! Take $20 Off Your Stay With Code Winter20!

Given the nature of the pandemic, it can be tough to find the best ways to spend the usual festivities that New Year's Eve brings.

Luckily, if you're comfortable enough to step outside for the occasion, there are great places still open and worth visiting. Although you should always keep COVID-19 safety precautions in mind, here are three of the most stunning places to spend Near Year's Eve in the U.S.

New York City (New York)

No guide to stunning places to spend New Year's Eve in the U.S. would be complete without the presence of New York City, New York. The Times Square ball drop is a must-see annual event, though this year it will be a bit different due to the pandemic. Thankfully, the city will still be throwing an event for all to enjoy that will keep social distancing in mind and focus on bringing people together virtually.

While there might be live events for some to enjoy, none have been officially announced just yet. Even if you're enjoying the festivities virtually, there are few better places to spend this special occasion than at the tip of the NYC skyline.

New York City New Years Eve New York City New Years EveForbes

Lake Travis (Texas)

Lake Travis is a brilliant body of water in Texas that provides a versatile collection of ways to enjoy its beauty. If you'd prefer to keep your party secluded due to the pandemic, you can enjoy the evening on a boat in the waters of this lake, which is home to the famous "Devil's Cove" party destination.

If you're comfortable spending the evening in a venue that practices COVID-19 safety precautions, consider relaxing on one of the three decks on display at The Oasis. Even if you don't stick around to ring in the New Year, viewing the sunset from The Oasis is an incredible experience in itself.

Lake Travs Lake Travislaketravis.com

Cape Cod (Massachusetts)

If you're looking for a quainter way to ring in the new year, consider visiting Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Aside from the cool weather and stunning scenery, when spending New Year's Eve in Cape Cod you can visit places such as the Belfry Inn & Bistro. This lovely location has a focus on good dining, stylish and comfortable living, and COVID-19 safety, all of which they put on display via their website.

If you'd prefer not to spend too much time in a restaurant or bar, you can indulge in the incredible appearance of areas like Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket. Simply wandering around the area and taking in the scenery before enjoying an intimate evening inside makes for an unforgettable adventure.

Cape Cod New Years Eve Cape Cod New Years Evebluegreenvacations.com

Due to the ever-changing nature of certain venues during the pandemic, be sure to regularly check-up on any venues you wish to visit. That way, you can remain in the loop on their availability, activities, and safety precautions upon arrival.