This page is about Florencewise, and about us.
We are Elyssa Bernard and Alessandro Bisceglie, creators and publishers of Florencewise (and Romewise!)
We thought you might like to know how this web guide came about, and why we think we know what we're talking about!
My name is Elyssa Bernard. You may know me from my first website, Romewise.
I've lived in Rome since 2001, where I moved back from the US with my Roman husband, Alessandro (see below.)
I started Romewise in 2009. We've come a long way since then!
From 2001 - 2018, Alessandro and I ran a boutique B&B in Rome, and we got to know the kinds of questions our visitors had about visiting Rome and other parts of Italy.
This helped with all the content I created for Romewise (eventually Alessandro also got into creating content for Romewise, so you'll find plenty of pages by him or both of us together, both there and on Florencewise.)
After years of helping people with their visits to Rome and Florence, and frequent visits of our own with friends and family and also to visit Florence friends, we knew it was time to add Florencewise!
When I was
5, my parents were driving me and my sister around Europe in a VW van. My
sister Sharyn was 3 and since we were so young, my parents made the decision to only
visits parks, zoos, and gardens, not museums.
But the Accademia with Michelangelo’s David was different. We only needed to pop in to see the magnificent sculpture, and leave. It shouldn’t take long.
As we approached the statue at the end of the long corridor, it seems I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I plunked myself down, crossed my legs, and sat nearly motionless staring up at David.
Apparently, I would not be moved. Not knowing quite what to do, my parents took turns watching me while the other took Sharyn around in the stroller, waiting for me to decide I’d had enough.
Finally, after about half an hour, I was ready to leave.
A couple of decades later, backpacking around Italy with a friend, I knew I had to see David. I wanted to see if he could live up to the stories of my 5-year-old self being mesmerized by him. I thought, I am sure he will seem smaller to me now, maybe less amazing.
I was so wrong.
I saw David and my mouth dropped open in complete awe.
I could not get enough.
I was in love.
In love with Michelangelo, with art, with David.
This stayed with me for a few more years until as fate would have it, I found myself living in Rome, Michelangelo’s stomping ground.
After several years of my parents visiting me in Rome, my mother said she had not been back to Florence since that time I was five.
My mom was 81 when we finally went back together. And we went to see David together, and it was like coming home.
You may wonder why I have so many pages about Michelangelo and his art (here and on Romewise), why I study it so deeply. This is why.
I'm Alessandro, born and raised in Rome, Italy, and I’m, among other things, a freelance writer with 30 years’ experience in the travel industry.
As a toddler, my parents gifted me with precious and valuable endowments, such as letting me play football with my school mates among the vestiges of ancient Rome, or taking me to Mass on Sundays out to the most significant cathedrals or basilicas in catholic history (S. Pietro, S. Maria Degli Angeli, S. Maria del Fiore, S. Domenico Maggiore) and above all by traveling to the most beautiful and renowned destinations in my country.
We spent our family’s summers holidays in the north of Italy, where I learned to respect the snowy peaks of some of Europe's most famous mountains - the Alps and Dolomites.
I discovered they're packed with trekking trails, iconic national parks, spectacular lakes, but also with history, having been the site of major battles fought during WWI.
I also lived in the south of Italy, specifically Puglia, where my father was born.
I worked primarily as a photographer but I also started to write essays on style, history, and folklore about this beautiful part of Italy.
As a proud Army son, because of my father, who was a military-trainer and officer of the glorious Arma dei Carabinieri, an Italian elite Army special corp, I myself served my country in the field and for 5 years I was based in both Campania and Tuscany (specifically in Ognissanti in Florence!)
Once I left the military, I lived in France, Belgium, and Holland, and completed my degree in Contemporary History, ultimately in Italian literature.
I'm fluent in English, French, Spanish and of course Italian.
I love to share the taste of local food, explore new cultures, go hiking and cycling, experience luxury and /or budget tours, stay at boutique hotels, leisure resorts or low-cost guesthouses.
I have an extensive multi-level experience in the tourism industry, having been manager and coordinator of small charming hotels in Belgium first and finally in Rome.
And it was while working in a small hotel located near the central train station in Rome that I met an American back-packing -attractive woman for whom it was love at first sight.
Since then I have shared many travel experiences and found inspiration to start a project that over time became a business: We went all-in on it, and turned our 20-year hotelier jobs into a new full-time career as writers, authors, and entrepreneurs.
Being a history and art aficionado with a penchant for describing the most exclusive sites where things both great and small occurred, what began as an inquisitive hobby soon developed into studying writing and documenting on hundreds of topics of more than 50 major destinations in Italy.
We travel regularly, chronicling the places we go, so that we can provide updated and personalized information about amazing destinations around my country as well as my own personal recommendations of places to stay, food, what to do and see and, of course history and art.
When we're not out exploring the local arts and culture scene, we're usually enjoying the flavors of my home-town cuisine at the coolest restaurants, working our way through crammed local cafes or snacking on fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and hot baked rolls while strolling in neighbourhoods farmer markets.
Whether you’re travelling in small or big groups, families, couples or you're a solo adventurers, I think you’ll find our tips and stories useful to plan a quick stroll right at your favorite destination, go to the beach or eat and drink out.
Enjoy our website and Bon Voyage!