Just returned from 4 fantastic days in Florence made special by Penny's encyclopaedic knowledge of this amazing city! Penny very kindly arranged a bespoke tour of the "must see" buildings, churches, frescos and paintings explaining each site in intimate detail. Lunch and dinner in fabulous restaurants tucked away from the crowds and an evening at the opera (a condensed version of Carmen) completed an action packed yet relaxing trip. I can't wait to go back. If you are thinking of taking a class, be it writing, art, cookery or whatever takes your fancy, you'd be mad not to look at Beyond the Yalla Dog to arrange your trip!
What a wonderful holiday we spent in Florence with Penny as our guide. She knows Florence so well and her knowledge of art and art history added immeasurably to the experience. Also she took us to out of the way places that we would never have found for ourselves. The day spent exploring the Uffizzi and the two opera performances were particular highlights. Thank you!
I've always been a lover of art, ever since I did my Art History degree 30-years ago. I'm also a lover of Italy so what could be better than being guided by an expert steeped in both historical and current cultural activity in Firenze. Penny is not only a fantastic companion, but she takes you to places you'd never find on your own & experiences you'd never think of. In 9-days I've been to the Opera (twice!); painted a fresco head; created a silverpoint pen; taken a tasting tour of Chianti and been involved in the filming of a documentary about Advancing Women's Art. I've tried to document it on the way via FaceBook & Twitter - but I've probably missed a few bits. I've made new friends, expanded my knowledge & probably imbibed my body weight in Prosecco. And according to my host, I've lost a bit of weight with all the walking. I've had such an amazing time, I'm already planning my next trip!
I have just returned from a wonderful holiday in Florence. My friend & guide, Penny Howard, has a vast knowledge of Florence and its Art treasures. It was not my first visit but I certainly feel, thanks to Penny, that my knowledge and art appreciation has increased.
Penny is very enthusiastic and has lots of "add on anecdotal " stories to tell when explaining the history of some of the paintings.
My accommodation at San Frediano Mansion, chosen by Penny, was great - Very Italian--Bellissimo
Grazie Mille Penny
Dear Penny, great page on Iris Origo, lots of interesting information! And even better: Getting together with you! Looking forward to seeing you again.
What a wonderful day spent cooking with Chef Lisa Banchieri! Started the morning with ingredients shopping at the San Ambrogio market and then on to the chef's villa for a fun and informative cooking lesson. We then enjoyed the fruits of our labor while sitting on the terrace overlooking the Tuscan countryside. What a fabulous experience. Thank you Penny!
I have stayed in Florence for many months over the past ten years and thought I knew a lot of her jewels, then I spent a day with Penny. Penny's knowledge of the art treasures of Florence revealed a whole new depth that brought the frescoes alive in a way I had not experienced before. I thank her and recommend her tour.
Penny! Thank you so much for making our stay in Florence so wonderful! Your knowledge and passion is inspiring. We had a lovely time and loved the Tuscan cooking class you arranged for us. We will never eat food quite like it again I'm sure! You really did go above and beyond and we thank you for that. We shall be telling our friends and family all about The Yalla Dog xx
Where does one begin to thank Penny for such a memorable sojourn in Firenze? We started with the Opera 'Candide' and the rest is history! Several times we ended up at Il Santo Bevitore restaurant, after many courses organised by Penny. These included a private tour of the city, plate painting course with Enzo and one of the highlights was the Cooking Course with Lisa Banchieri in her mountain villa.
Networking in Firenze is amazing, and I was invited to many, many more events.
such a memorable time in Firenze, all thanks due to Penny! Until the next time!
When Penny asked us in June what we wanted to do during our four day stay in Florence we wanted her most of all to introduce us to 'her' Florence: the city and culture (high level only); local food and drink; gardens & villas; music; and to give us some insight to her great love for this city.
What Penny organised for us was truly amazing: a day tour of the villas of some of the most influential families in the history of the city (including a fabulous lunch); a cookery class led by the wonderful Lisa Banchieri, the photos on the blogs just show how much fun this was; a personal guided tour where Penny's passion and knowledge brought so much history into life and perspective; an evening concert of popular arias in St Marks English church; and a real extra bonus in introducing us to some of her amazing friends (local and international) all who have a shared love of this wonderful city.
What we experienced can only be described as a little piece of magic something that cannot be found in any tourist book, thank you Penny, we will be back.
Having just spent four glorious days in this wonderful city, I defy anyone not to fall in love with Florence and what made this first trip to Florence so memorable for me was the brilliant way that the four days was organised by Penny. Everything was designed to include the most obvious aspects of this Italian city and the not so obvious. So for example, walking through the streets of Florence, her knowledge was so good that she would stop and point and say, "if you see that building there..." and proceed to recount a tale about some skirmish or tragedy or love story that happened within it's walls hundreds of years ago.... I really wish that I had someone like Penny as a history teacher at school!!! The Italian cookery class was brilliant, as was the opera and the restaurants that she chose carefully. I am well and truly smitten and fully intend to return and it goes without saying that Beyond the Yalla Dog will be my first choice for guidance around so much more that I want to see and learn about.
Thanks Penny for organising such a great day for us in Florence. The four of us thoroughly enjoyed the day and although we had been to Florence before, you showed us lots of fantastic art and architecture that we hadn't seen previously and wouldn't have seen this time without your tremendous knowledge of the city. Your love and passion for all things Florence shone through brightly and it's great to see someone doing something that they clearly love. Thanks again and best wishes for the future. Les
I am so glad to learn that you spent a lovely time with us at the Villa!
Your coverage is very interesting and thank you for mentioning me 🙂
When you come back, I will be able to tell you more little secrets about the Villa, I am sure it is full of interesting details that I am so excited to find out!
My kindest regards,
PR & Guest Relations Manager
Lovely welcome to Florence today from Penny Howard. Fabulous to feel Penny's passion for the city. — feeling happy with Cheryl Power and Shelley Power at Firenze, Italy. John Handley
Hi Penny, Thank you again for organising such a wonderful visit to Florence, all four of us had a fantastic time and agreed that the balance of different experiences was exactly right. The day spent with you looking at some of the less well known art was terrific with no queues or crowds so we could really appreciate the different pieces, and your knowledge and enthusiasm greatly added to our day.The wine tasting and cooking days were great fun and we felt very spoilt being treated to such experiences. Thank you also for organising the appartment which was perfect for the four of us, and it was great to be so central. Hugh
Hi Penny Thank you so much for helping us to unlock Florence. It's such an amazing city and we just wouldn't have even started to scratch the surface without your expert help. What the kids loved best were all the 'back stories' about the city and its history - like the lion (we won't spoil that one for future guests) ! We can't wait for our next visit and an opportunity to get to know Florence even better - what a treasure trove !
Penny added enormous value to our 5-day trip to Florence. Her deep passion for the splendid art, history and culture of Florence allowed us to immerse ourselves in this wonderful city and surrounding Tuscan landscape. During visits to galleries, monasteries, restaurants, vineyards and beautiful gardens, she shared her knowledge in a subtle way allowing us to discover things that we would never have found through any guidebook. Thank you, Penny. We will definitely be back!
I spent a fabulous five days in Florence with Penny. I arrived at the start of the sales - I think saldi (sale) is my favourite Italian word and shopped. This is my second time in this beautiful city and as usual I just did not spend enough time there. The food was excellent, the Prosecco and wine wonderful and the company was beyond compare.
The wine tour was marvellous but then I do love red wine. The added advantage is that you get to see more of the beautiful Tuscan countryside and see how terracotta is made into all shapes and sizes. We visited a butcher with a difference and tested more wine. A fabulous lunch provided a lovely interlude from the strain of tasting chianti.
Penny knows the places to visit, the history, and the culture and I sampled all of that too in my five days. If you want to see the best of Florence then arrange a tour with Beyondtheyalladog. Would I go back absolutely will it be soon, well, it would be rude not to.
A simple "thank you" is not enough to express our gratitude to Penny Howard. As I looked back at the photos I took and the journals I wrote down in UK, I just could not thank her enough for the good things she's done for me and my friend Claire. There were so many days that she had sacrificed her sleep (even before 5am) and got up so early just to feed us and drove us to the station. If there's no passion, how could a person do that? But Penny has shown us her hospitality. She also let us leave our luggage in her house as we traveled around England with only backpacks. I just realized later how this was helpful when we had to drag the luggages with us to the airport. Not just so, when we said good bye, Penny even sent us to the hotel we stayed at the end of trip... and there were still more. I mean, truly Penny has done too much for us. 🙂 Me and Claire were like, "Wow! She's such a great host!" Definitely if there's any opportunity for me to visit UK or even Italy, I will still choose to stay at Penny's place again and set apart some days to participate in the activities she plans and designs! ^^
I've just spent a delightful few days in Florence thanks to the helpful assistance and great company of Penny Howard. Not only did she arrange lovely accommodation for me at a very reasonable price, but also acted as tour guide for myself and a mutual friend. Penny's passion for the city, its history and the many wonderful sights is a joy to witness and added to my own enthusiasm for Florence and its many wonders. Her wealth of knowledge and anecdotes made for fascinating visits to various churches, the Uffizi, the Duomo and elsewhere. We managed to see so much, without feeling at all rushed, which is ideal. And as Penny speaks Italian, it made everything so easy. We also shared some fantastic meals at restaurants that Penny knows, which of course just adds to the pure pleasure of being in Italy.
When I next visit Florence, I would love to participate in at least one of the many activities that Penny organises, including cookery courses and garden tours.
Thanks so much, Penny! See you soon!