My partner and I spent three nights in Florence in late September with Penny as our guide. When we travel, our focus is on great food and wine, walking, being outdoors and experiencing an area like the locals. As we had both been to Florence several times before and visited many of the well known attractions, I thought it might be a bit of a task for Penny to show us new experiences, but was glad to be completely wrong!
Even though we barely had 72 hours in Florence, it felt like we had spent a week with seeing and doing so much. Our first evening started with a short walk through the backstreets up to the Piazzale Michelangelo, where we enjoyed Aperol Spritz while watching the sunset over Florence. As Penny knew that we were vegetarian, she had then organised an outdoor table for us at an excellent vegan restaurant.
The next morning we toured the city on foot, visiting less crowded churches and other buildings that were of architectural and historical interest to us, which was perfect for working up an appetite. After, another amazing meal, where Penny had secured the best table in the house at a very popular Italian restaurant! We enjoyed a bottle of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, with the freshest and tastiest pasta and finishing with another local favourite, Vin Santo with homemade biscotti.
Another highlight was attending a small and intimate production of the opera Tosca, which was held in a church, and where the performers were just several feet away. Penny’s passion for art, history and Italian culture really shone through with every experience we had. And as we are quite fussy, it was great having someone who spoke fluent Italian and could organise exactly what we wanted - thanks again Penny - totally loved it!
I recently spent a fantastic week in Florence, with Penny as my guide; she also helped me arrange accommodation. A combination of my original wishlist plus suggestions from Penny plus a few suggestions from an acquaintance in the UK led to a very full itinerary which Penny was able to fit into my week.
Her knowledge, organisational skills and sense of humour greatly enhanced the experience which also included wonderful food, various cultural events, and meeting some of Penny's very talented friends.
Earlier this month we were fortunate enough to visit the glorious Italian city of Florence. Our trip was enhanced,beyond measure, by the marvelously knowledgeable Penny, who conveyed not only her tremendous passion for the city and its people but also for the incredible history, art, religion and music of times past. We truly felt we were walking in the footsteps of the House of Medici. Penny provided a tailor made city tour over three days taking in historic and religious sites and galleries, churches and so much more. Her expert knowledge and adaptable approach gave us a first class experience which included lots of humour, wonderful food ( especially the cheeses!) and an insight into the life of the Florentines who inhabit this amazing city today. Thank you so much for introducing us to Florence in such a special and unforgettable way. Kathryn and Peter Holloway
I visited with Penny the Cappella Brancacci on Piazza del Carmine. It was the first time in my life that I left a place not just impressed, but full of a story! In my brain I saw all the historic people Penny was talking about, it all became real and a whole story! Even the devil-looking cat became real! Penny seems to know a story about every church, about every place and museum and even when you just have a coffee she keeps on telling fascinating stories about Florence! Thank you so much Penny for all the interesting stories - at least I am getting to know more about the history of Florence. I would definitively recommend getting to know Florence with Penny - it`s worth every minute! Of course there will always be time for coffee and prosecco and good food 🙂 Looking forward to next time!
Last week I spend some days in Florence on account of my friends Feli's birthday. She arranged for her guests visits to the Accademia and the Cappella Brancacci with her neighbour Penny. Dear Penny, thank you so much for enriching my stay in Florence with your deep knowledge on art, history and the city, your humor and your patience toward all our many questions. Dear visitors - look for the part with four legs and five heads at the fresco lefthandside in Cappella Brancacci. Penny can tell you why.
thank you very much for the organization of tickets and priority entry to the museums. It was a pleasure to listen to your words explaining the pictures, sculptures and ceiling frescos, especially the stories behind the works and the artists. I am looking forward to coming back.
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