Say ‘Ciao!’ to our LUXE Florence editor for over a decade, Kate Collins-Manetti, who shares the story of how she first landed in Italy, what made her stay, and all her fave (and not-so-fave) spots in the city. Andiamo!
How long have you been with LUXE?
Since the first edition of the LUXE Florence guide in 2007!
(Photo: Kate Collins-Manetti)
Where are you from, originally?
A little mountain town in Colorado in the States.
How did you first get to Florence and what made you stay?
I came to study abroad and fell in love with all things Italian (including my husband of 17 years), and after finishing university in the US, I came straight back to Italy.
What’s your day job?
What’s the best thing about living in Florence?
I love how walkable Florence is and how there’s always something jaw-dropping to see at every corner of the city. Sometimes when I’m biking through Piazza del Duomo in the early morning to take my kids to school, I can’t help but feel so grateful. I also love how close the gorgeous Tuscan countryside is – so many amazing day trips.
Favourite places in your city and why?
I love the Boboli Gardens – it’s actually free for residents of the city. I love walking up to San Miniato – the church itself with the zodiac tiled floor and glowing mosaics, the priests chanting the evening vespers, and the beautiful view over the city. Santo Spirito square is another favourite for aperitivo hour. I love the mix of people – 20-somethings joking over a drink, older men chatting on a bench about politics, and children playing soccer or hide-and-seek in the square.
And the biggest tourist trap?
Many of the old tourist traps feel different now that they are empty, so much so that I’ve actually grown fond of them again. I guess I’d say avoid the horrible gelato places where the gelato’s piled sky-high in a bunch of strange colours – that’s always a bad sign.
Your best trip ever?
In 2017, my husband and two kids (who were six and eight at the time) did a 5,000 km road trip. We were nervous it might be a disaster but it was our best family vacation ever. We started in Florence and drove first to Chamonix, then Paris, and Saint-Malo. Then, we took the ferry to Ireland with stops in Dublin and a beautiful manor in county Kilkenny, followed by another ferry to the British coast where we spent a few days on the Isle of Wight. Finally, we took the Eurotunnel back to the continent with a stop in Champagne on our way back to Florence.
Kate and her husband (Photo: Kate Collins-Manetti)
And the worst?
One year, we spent August in Sardegna and the cottage we rented didn’t have a dishwasher. My husband loves to cook and would make three-course meals twice a day with lots of fish, so all I remember about that holiday was washing the dishes!
Absolute favourite place in the world?
So hard! I’d say it’s a toss-up between Corvara in the Dolomites and the island of Formentera in Spain.
What’s left/next on your bucket list?
I am planning to hike to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro when I turn 50.
Finally, why do you love to travel?
I love finding faraway places where I still feel at home and discovering what that tells me about myself. I also love seeing new places through my children’s eyes and their joy in adventure and new experiences.
Hero image: Unsplash.com
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