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Firenze at night, photographed by Paula Sweet

 

Baglioni chronicles

Stanley Moss visits five Italian centres—Firenze, Roma, Milano, Venezia, Punta Ala—bringing a unique insight to each one, with a Baglioni property his home after each adventure
Photographed by Paula Sweet and Donatella Simonetti

 


Stanley Moss is travel editor of Lucire.

Firenze
Easter weekend and the train to Santa Maria Novella rumbles into town at 9 p.m. after a heavy rain. The station’s nearly empty. Let’s not call it a torrent, but the cobblestone streets are still shiny in the streetlights. I opt for a cab, though I could easily walk it, and five minutes later I’m floating through the foyer of the Relais Santa Croce, up the broad stairs, back to the familiar front desk. There’s a fire roaring in the big room next to reception, and a very happy couple sit shoulder-to-shoulder on the wide couch facing it and I don’t want to disturb their moment, so I wander over to the window and stare down at the street below. By now it’s lightly misting outside, deserted. Why the heck not? The deskman hands me a big umbrella, I say I’m just going to take a short stroll, and out I go into a Firenze I have never seen, not a soul on the street, a glossy night, with the luxury to meander at my own pace. My eyes fall on stray details, the peculiar iridescence of white marble through the diffuse screen of fog, columns and façades which are heroic, opulent, ornate, towering overhead, the absence of noise, the occasional flash of a colourful neon sign in a dark window, unseen sculptures in hidden alcoves. Usually I am jockeying humans on these sidewalks, trying to avoid rear-ending somebody. Tonight I wander unencumbered into Santa Croce, swing through the Duomo, loop down to the Arno, cross the Ponte Vecchio which is empty and feels like a movie set. I lose all sense of the hour. But at 12.30 a.m., two and a half hours later, I’m back climbing the stairs at the Relais. ‘Had a good walk?’ the desk man asks, glancing at his watch. ‘Far too short,’ I answer. He sighs. ‘The restaurant is closed, but have you seen our room service menu? We can have something delicious up to your room in no time!’

 

Next page: Roma

 

 

 

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