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Was it really over a week since I was in Florence? Thanks to those fine people at the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, a fine old time was had – thanks to the 100,000 Starpoints they gave me to ‘create an amazing getaway of my choice’.

The Starwood Westin Excelsior in Florence has a restaurant and bar on the roof. The Se.Sio on Arno is six floors up and offers amazing views right across the Florentine skyline – from the Doumo, to the Arno and on up to the hills. Even in the rain the view is amazing. And by David, it didn’t half rain!

Bar, Se.Sio on Arno, 6th Floor Westin Excelsior

Bar, Se.Sio on Arno, 6th Floor Westin Excelsior

Every Sunday the restaurant puts on an amazing brunch menu, from 12:30 until 14:30. We were the last to leave… nearer 4 I think… certainly squeezing the max out of the 60 Euro charge; it proved excellent value.

Freshly made cocktails to start as soon as you arrive; although we went for a rather decent Franciacorta sparkling – reigniting fond memories of the wine conference in Brescia back in 2011 – a Berlucchi Cuvee 61 sparkling. A fine aperitif, crisp, fresh, easy drinking and a fine accompaniment to the antipasti. So good in fact we had a second glass each.

The antipasti is set up as a self-serve buffet to which you can return as often as you like. There is a huge array – several different breads (I took a fancy to the rosemary and potatoes version), five different fish dishes including Mussels Palermo style, Oysters with lemon, black bread and butter and baby squid with Florentine tomatoes.

I stuck into the wild boar salami, the falafel with spiced yoghurt and the bread with ricotta cheese topped with a fried egg. Delicious. In total I think there are a dozen different dishes to sample.

Wine to accompany? Of course! A Sommelier is on hand in the round wine cellar. Again it’s a free pour selection from what is open – there were three whites (didn’t get to try them, but one was a Pinot Grigio, another a Chardonnay…) and four reds.

Now the true Italian wine aficionado might tut slightly at the thought of the interloper Merlot sullying the native Sangiovese in their Chianti; but the Poggio Borgoni Rosso Chianti with a splash of Merlot proved forward, smooth, and highly drinkable. And a delicious accompaniment to my pasta course of Tagliatelle with Tuscan Meat Ragu and to my companions main course of Braised Veal with Spinach in a Chianti Sauce.

My main of Chicken Supreme and fondant potatoes you might have gone for a white. But our friendly little sommelier suggested a Pietranera Rosso di Montalcino. With its delicious herb and tea edge, moderate acidity and lightness of body this proved a fine match to the chicken – seeing as it came served with a red wine gravy. Delicious.

Desserts next; how to choose? So we had one of each and shared… cottage cheese s=cinnamon pancake, chocolate pudding, figs and goat cheese mille feuille cakes and a stunning looking mixed fruit flan.

We went off menu for a final flourish – a nutmeg dusted brandy alexander each. At which point it stopped raining so wandering out to explore the various split level balconies we revelled in that view across the Florentine rooftops… magical.

se.sio-20

Sunday Brunch Se Sio on Arno at the Starwood Westin Excelsior, Florence

The meal and stay in Florence was sponsored by American Express and ‘Starwood Preferred Guest’. For details on the ease of using and booking a Starwood points trip please refer to the ‘To Florence with Starwood’ post on SpittoonExta.

The Se.Sio on Arno Sunday brunch costs 60 euro per person. Some of our drinks were extra. Booking is advisable.

Start saving (or spending!) those Starwood points. The ease of arranging the trip to Florence was a breeze; I can see adding a free SPG night (just 25,000 Starpoints at the Westin Excelsior) being highly popular.

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

Representative example: Representative 36.2% APR variable. Based on annual fee of £75 and assumed credit limit of £1200. Interest rate for purchases: 19.9% p.a. variable.

• Welcome bonus of 10,000 Starpoints, enough for up to three nights (depending on category), when you spend £1,000 in your first three months
• Earn 1 Starpoint for virtually every full £1 spent on your Card
• Explore more than 1,000 hotel and resorts in 100 countries with your Starpoints – no blackout dates
• Redeem Starpoints for flights on over 150 airlines with no blackout dates
• Transfer your Starpoints to over 30 major airline frequent flyer programmes
• Travel and shopping protection
• Total peace of mind with the security of booking through American Express
• Global Assist® provides help when you travel outside the UK, in your own language, 24/7
• Automatic enrolment in the Starwood Preferred Guest programme, upgraded to gold status when you spend £15,000 on your Card in your first 12 months

Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG):

• Preferred Guest members earn two Starpoints for virtually every eligible £1 spent, including restaurant and room service charges, in-room movies and more but earn is accelerated with the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card
• Starpoints redemption options including Free Night Awards without blackout dates, Award Flights and much more – starting at just 2,000 Starpoints
• Members-only offers so you can save on luxurious getaways and quickly earn bonus Starpoints for your stays
• Rewards you can count on – your Starpoints never expire as long as you show account activity once a year
• Take advantage of Starwood Moments, an exclusive program for members of SPG® in which hard-earned Starpoints® can be transformed into one-of-a-kind experiences

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card.

Applicants must be 18 years old or over. Approval is subject to status and terms and conditions apply. The information relating to the financial information of the Card is the responsibility of American Express Services Europe Limited and SPG accepts no responsibility for inaccuracies. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc, registered in England and Wales is an introducer appointed representative for insurance mediation activities only, of American Express Insurance Services Europe Limited. The American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card is offered by American Express Services Europe Limited registered office: Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom registered in England and Wales, Company Number 1833139, and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Payment Services Regulations 2009 (reference number 415532) for the provision of payment services. American Express Services Europe Limited is an appointed representative for insurance mediation activities only, of American Express Insurance Services Europe Limited (reference number 311684) who is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services Register. American Express Services Europe Limited also subscribes to the Lending Code which is monitored and enforced by the Lending Standards Board and is licensed by the Office of Fair Trading for the provision of credit products and related services.


 

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