Helvetia and Bristol

On a trip to the Spring Summer show at Pitti Uomo, what should have been a straightforward and pleasant trip turned out to have be a disaster.

I was scheduled to take the early morning flight from Dublin to Milan, and from there take the train to Florence. The train arrives in Florence around 1.30 pm, and with the show not due to start until the following day, I was looking forward to a free afternoon to wander around the city. I planned to drop my bags at the hotel and make a beeline for one of the magnificent Pizzas to watch the world, and the style, go by.

At least that was the plan.

Having checked in online the previous day, I arrived at the airport in plenty of time, parked and proceeded through security, planning to relax with a coffee in the airport lounge and wait for my flight to be called.

When that time came, I made my way to the gate and reached for my passport – no passport!

I read once that airports are specifically designed to direct people in a steady flow through the terminals, duty free, food courts and on to their gates for departure. Going the opposite way is a different story. With panic starting to set in and finding myself lost on a couple of occasions, it began to dawn on me that I wasn’t getting on this flight…and where was my passport?!

With various conversations with different security personnel and airline staff, I retraced my steps back to the carpark.

There, lying on the ground by the car, was my passport.

Another flight was booked for later in the day, this time to Pisa. Arriving in Pisa after a delayed flight, I took a taxi to the train station and then a train, which seemed to take forever, to Florence. By now it was about 8pm, and I realised I hadn’t notified the hotel I would be late.

Things went from bad to worse. When I did eventually phone them, they had given my room away. I nearly started to cry. Florence in the summer is busy, but throw Pitti in to the mix and it’s even busier. The negroni, followed by a nice meal, was looking increasingly unlikely.

I remembered a hotel I stayed in previously, Helvetia and Bristol. I arrived at their reception at about 9pm and was greeted by one of the most hospitable members of staff I have ever encountered.

She asked me how my day had been, and I proceeded to tell her, and finished my story telling her I had no reservation, and all I wanted was a nice meal and a negroni or 5!

She looked at me and calmly said the stress of my day was finished. She directed me their outdoor terrace, told me to relax and she would take care of a room and my luggage.

I wanted to hug her.

Bristol and Helvetia Florence

The meal was excellent. The negroni was superb. The wine was delicious.

The hotel is a beautiful mix of classic meet contemporary. The toiletries are from Etro. I slept like a baby that night and woke the next morning to enjoy a beautiful breakfast before heading to the show.

A few months later, I wrote to the hotel to tell them of my experience. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the woman’s name. The only information I had was a description, and during check in she commented that her birthday was a few days after mine.

The hotel was delighted to hear from me and wrote back to tell me they knew who I was referring to and would pass on my message of gratitude to her,

I haven’t returned to Florence since but hopefully I will return to this year. I will be checking in to the Helvetia and Bristol for any future trips.