Who doesn't want to live the life of the Queen Bey? When invited on a recent trip to Florence, I immediately thought three things: 1) Italy! I can't wait to drink *all* the wine and eat *all* the carbs. 2) My one year of Italian is going to serve me oh so well. 3) Wait a second...this itinerary looks a lot like the Italian vacation Beyoncé is currently on. I am, therefore, 100% in.
Thus, I decided to do Italy the Beyoncé way (well, as much as I could. I'm not rollin' on that Jay/Bey income). Here, a guide to where you need to stay, what you need to see, and where you need to eat, courtesy of Bey and me. (Because if that's not an endorsement, IDK what is.)
While it seems that Beyoncé stayed in some lavish hotel and then a Tuscan villa of some sort (name yet to be revealed), I had the stay that rivaled anything the Bey/Bae could buy. The Grand Amore, which opened this past December, basically made me feel like a queen. Before you arrive, they send you a questionnaire to get to know you a bit better—including what pillows you like to rest your head on, what drinks you like to imbibe, and what your interests are. Then, they customize the entire experience to you. And with only 11 rooms, you'll know the hotel staff like family–and they'll be there to serve you breakfast in your room, an espresso to kickstart your tours, or your favorite apéritif after a long day.
The best/most adorable part? They give you a little keepsake to remember your trip and stay by—and boy, do they do their homework. (I got a coffee table book featuring photos by an Italian artist of a trip to Africa. I studied African history.) Stalking Instagram, I saw that they gave a woman starting a fashion career in Florence a vintage bag, while they gave another vintage stamps from their favorite author. (Yes, I know.)
Did I mention this is mere steps from the hotel? Yeah.
Beyoncé and Jay Z toured just like us regular folks, because that's what you do when in Florence.
She saw Michelangelo's David at the Accademia gallery:
*I* saw David at the Accademia gallery. (Btw, he is huge.) (Also, fun facts: there used to be accents of gold on the statue, and his pupils are shaped like hearts.)
*I* took photos of the skyline and selfies on the Piazza del Michelangelo:
Finally, I made a trip to the Antinori Winery—a winery that's been in operation by one family for like 600 years, NBD—where I frolicked in the Tuscan sunshine, much like Blue Ivy. (Again, Jay, where you at?)
Jay and Bey also went on tours throughout Florence, which means you need to hit up the big tourist spots. (They're touristy for a reason.) Here's my list:
Santa Croce Church: The tombs of Galileo and Michelangelo are here, along with some other famous people. Plus, it's gorgeous. Bonus: There's a leather-making school here, and you can get a custom-made piece if you so desire.
The Il Duomo at the Florence Cathedral: Uh, it was started in 1296 and is basically MASSIVE. Also, see above.
The Medici Chapel: Must. Go. Breathtaking.
Santo Spirito: One of Michelangelo's first sculptures is on display here—a crucifix, hanging in one of the sacristies, or rooms of the church.
First stop? Obviously gelato. Béy and I frequented the same gelato shop, but let's be real, any shop will do. (It's GELATO. Even when it's "bad" it's good.) The place: Gelateria Edoardo, a tiny side-shop that features artisan flavors (plus, you know, the usual). The first time I went (yes, there were multiple times—stop judging me), I wondered aloud why the line wasn't moving as fast as one would hope while waiting for delicious, frozen treats. Turns out, they make every.single.cone by hand with every order.
Beyoncé had pizza at Il Pizzaiuolo Osteria, and while I had pizza, I can't say that I took a picture of it. I *can* say it was delicious because 1) it's pizza and 2) see gelato comment above.
Other places to eat: Alle Murate, which is both a museum *and* a restaurant. (Fun fact: an image of who they believe to be Dante can be seen here, and many agree that it's probably the closest to what he actually looked like.) There are amazing wine shops, like, everywhere. Also, should you be so lucky, The Grand Amore has hosted "Culinary and Couture" events, where they pair emerging designers and dishes to complement their designs. (One design equals one course.) It's kind of amazing, albeit they don't know when the next will be—all the more reason to push for it, eh?
At one point, I was cruising in a vintage Fiat-500 with a driver named Giovanni, care of The Grand Amore staff (because they love me and want me to be happy) on the way to a dinner at the Villa Bardini, where they poured me champagne before the chef took us on an exclusive tour of the property. I...mean...what?
I'll let Bey explain how everything felt in one video:
That's it, people. Book your ticket now.
Pro Tips for Florence:
- You'll be going in a lot of historic (and still-in-use) cathedrals. If traveling in the summer months, make sure you pack a small sweater you can schlep in your bag or, better yet, a scarf you can use to cover your shoulders. (I loved this Travel Smith one—which, when not using as a shawl, I used as a headband.)
- If you're transferring planes and have to go through security twice and customs, having a great organized carry-on is *crucial* to your happiness. The Lo & Sons OG is literally a Godsend.
- Don't forget your international adapter! This Samsonite one is A+.
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Samantha Leal is the Deputy Editor at Well+Good, where she spends most of her day thinking of new ideas across platforms, bringing on new writers, overseeing the day-to-day of the website, and working with the awesome team to produce the best stories and packages. Before W+G, she was the Senior Web Editor for Marie Claire and the Deputy Editor for Latina.com, with bylines all over the internet. Graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a minor in African history, she’s written everything from travel guides to political op-eds to wine explainers (currently enrolled in the WSET program) to celebrity profiles. Find her online pretty much everywhere @samanthajoleal.
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