While I've visited many cities throughout Italy, Florence holds a special place in my heart after spending a semester immersing myself in everything this beautiful city has to offer. Florence's air smells and feels truly Italian, as the cobblestone streets are lined with local musicians and art, along with locals enjoying espressos throughout the day make you feel like you're experiencing Italy as it was meant to be. Although the crowds downtown can be overwhelming at times, the city's quiet neighbourhood of Oltrarno is a quiet oasis in a bustling city. It is easy to find local gems such as Piazza Santo Spirito along with historically famous sites such as Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens and the stunning Piazzale Michelangelo.
As part of studying Hospitality and Tourism Management, Laura was fortunate enough to complete a semester abroad in Florence, Italy. During her time in the country she was able to take several trips to immerse herself in Italian culture, which kick-started her passion for travel. After graduating, Laura worked in fine dining and hospitality management. However, she couldn't ignore her love for European culture and decided to put her skills to use at Audley by helping others to discover the magic of Italy.
After two years of designing tailor-made trips to Italy, Laura wanted to expand her knowledge of Europe. As a result, she embarked on a five-week intensive research trip to Greece. Due to her love of the outdoors and Mediterranean food and wine, she instantly fell in love with the Greek culture, the people, and everything the country has to offer.
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One of the most memorable places I’ve stayed is the Andronis Concept Wellness Resort in Santorini. It’s a sleek, modern hotel with a chic, minimalist style and a very tranquil atmosphere that somehow suits both couples and families. Each room has its own plunge pool with views overlooking the Aegean, and it’s easy to reach the shops and restaurants in Fira and Imerovigli, but far enough away to be able to enjoy utter tranquillity if that’s what you’re after. Wellness is the focus here and there’s a large gym, a range of fitness classes, a spa and outdoor pools as well as dedicated activities for children.
I'll never forget when…
Growing up in Boston, Italian food has been a staple of my life, so it should come as no surprise that the cooking class I took in Florence was simply unforgettable. Taught by a Tuscan chef who shared the history of every ingredient and step of the process. We kneaded, rolled out dough and shaped pasta to perfection (or at least she did) until we had created four beautiful handmade pastas and sauces to pair with them. While devouring the pasta was everyone's favourite part of the day, learning how to prepare a true Bolognese along with other Tuscan traditions was an experience I reminisce about while I'm in the kitchen.