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Aparna Thadani is the founder of The22 in Florence, a member's club providing a modern and contemporary approach to wellness. Join us while Aparna fills us in on Florence's hidden wellness secrets and save for your next trip to the Italian city of art, architecture and cultural heritage.


Can you tell us a bit about you, your background and how The 22 came into being?

Hi! Absolutely, so I am a true product of globalisation: Indian by blood, born in HK, raised in Singapore and schooled in the US, UK and France, currently living in Florence, Italy! I moved to Florence in 2018 and as a foreigner, craved community. I have been a yogi since the age of 14, it has been a practice that has travelled with me across the world. Yoga studios were often where I felt that sense of home but in Florence for some reason I didn’t quite find what I was looking for. I met my partner Lucinda Pasi that year who comes from the fitness world, and together we decided to create a holistic wellness space, focused on social wellness to create and bring together community, while focusing on health practices for the body, mind and spirit.


How do you like to practise wellness and find calm in your city? 

Of course, through my personal yoga practice at home. But in the city, one of the strongest practices I believe in is living la dolce vita: the practice of living fully in the moment, enjoying the present moment to the fullest. Funnily enough this is also the fundamental concept of tantric philosophy, experiencing the divine in the everyday human experience.


Are there any spots we should go to for a mindful moment in Florence?

Cheesy as it sounds, Piazza del Duomo to experience the magnificence of the church. A hidden favourite is also Il Chiostro dello Scalzo, a tiny cloister which was sometimes the last room people on trial would stay in before their execution. All the frescos are done in a sepia tone, to me, providing those spending their last night of life there a chance to disconnect and prepare for what is to come. Apart from this, I do love to walk by the river and find trails that go down next to the water where one can sit, connected to the flow of water and watch city life flow simultaneously.


Can you recommend a restaurant to eat like a local?

Choosing one is hard but if I had to, I think it would be Cammillos. The food is DIVINE and it is an institution in Florence. One will find tourists there for sure, but if you look hard enough, Florence Inc. eat there too, families that have been going for generations! 


What does your perfect day off in Florence look like?

My perfect day off would start with my yoga practice, a walk into the city centre and maybe stopping down at the river for a moment of calm beforehand. In the city centre I love lunches at Brac or Colle Bereto, or if we decide to go out of the centre, Le Lune is magic! In the afternoon I would stop by a new exhibition in Strozzi or elsewhere like Museo Novecento and then maybe head to Le Volpi e L’uva for an aperitivo. It is your literal hole in the wall wine bar with all locally sourced, family produced wines and produce.

What is a “tourist trap” that you secretly love in Florence?

Piazza del Duomo and Procacci  (for a glass of wine and a truffle sandwich, or butter and anchovy)!  


Where are the best places to get a real sense of Florentine culture?

Ironically, all the locals eat in ‘nouveau’, concept-type places. The area of San Frediano and Santo Spirito in the Oltarno is the home of artisans and creatives and for me, has a lot of Florentine spirit. A lot of the newest bars, restaurants and local favourites of the younger Florentines are there.


Are there any local artists you’re a fan of?

I am A HUGE fan of Betty Soldi. Her work is not only the finished product but her process too. She is also an incredible human and spirit! 


Last but not least, do you have any hidden gems you can share with us for our next visit to Florence?

I do love the local markets which maybe do not always get seen by visitors, but every week day in Piazza Santo Spirito there is a local food, flower market and every Sunday there is a travelling antique market in different piazzas around the city. Those are also a great place to get a feel of ‘piazza’ culture and sense of community. The wet markets are also great, Sant’Ambrogio being less touristy than Mercato Centrale.