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Florence

Birthplace of the Renaissance and the largest city in Tuscany, Florence (Firenze in Italian) offers an embarrassment of famous Renaissance art, by masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Rafael...and, yes, Donatello, to round out the last of the Ninja Turtles. With a bustling tourist trade and lots of foreign students, there is also a hopping night scene, even for English speakers. Florence also makes a good "home base" before exploring the smaller hill towns of Tuscany. Avoid the city during the summer, when long lines of tourists will remind you of Disney World (or at least book your tickets ahead of time). While various guidebooks can tell you about the must-see tourist traps (e.g. Michelangelo's David, Duomo, Uffizi Galleries), basic lodging, and restaurants, here are some less-known things to check out in Florence:

Restaurants

  • Trattoria Cibrèo - via de' Macci 122r, good although crowded by many Americans, a fun "show" with a gregarious chef/owner, off P. S. Ambrogio, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia (still in 2016), Frommer's and Fodor's.  (not to be confused with the more expensive Ristorante Cibrèo)
  • Trattoria La Casalinga - via del Michelozzi 9, Otrarno (near Santo Spirito basilica, just SW of Ponte Vecchio), home cooking, locals, rec'd by 2 CHs, cheap, rec'd by Fodor's, Slow Food Osterie d'Italia (still in 2016)
  • Mario - via Rosina 2r, San Lorenzo district, 055-218-550, hole-in-the-wall family-run trattoria, inexpensive, rec'd by chowhounds, Fodor's, and Slow Food Osterie d'Italia (still in 2016)
  • Del Fagioli - Corso de' Tintori 47r, just S of Piazza Santa Croce, closed Sat/Sun, very old place, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia (still in 2016), Elizabeth MinchilliLonely Planet
  • (Trattoria) Sabatino - Via Pisana 2r, S of SMN train station in Oltrarno, rec'd in Slow Food Osterie d'Italia (still in 2016) for "simple and accommodating" family-run place that's a blast from the past, menu changes each day based on what's fresh, simple presentations of traditional dishes
  • Trattoria da Sergio Gozzi - Piazza San Lorenzo 8r, just E of SMN train station in San Lorenzo district, rec'd in Slow Food Osterie d'Italia (still in 2016) for traditional Tuscan food at good prices, more info in The Florentine
  • Il Magazzino - Piazza della Passera 2-3r, Oltrarno just SW of Ponte Vecchio, open every day, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia (still in 2016), famous for organ meats
  • Ai Tranvai - Piazza Torquato Tasso 14r, in the Oltrarno nearly a mile S of the Arno, features parts of old streetcars, classic traditional dishes, rec'd in Slow Food Osterie d'Italia (still in 2016)
  • Not sure about these places (were all at least allegedly good in ~2010):
    • Trattoria Quattro Leoni - This no-nonsense trattoria is in the Oltrarno ("over the Arno") district, a less busy, more Italian neighborhood not far from the Ponte Vecchio.  They offer a number of Florentine specialties (including supposedly the best bistecca fiorentina in town) as well as fiocchetti alle pere, a delicious pasta with pear filling.  Rec'd by Fodor's.
    • Sostanza (Il Troia) - via della Porcellana 25 (S of S.M.N. Train Station), 055-212-691, closed Sat/Sun, a hole in wall but great steak (more than one reader says it's the best bistecca fiorentina in town, also good chicken in butter sauce), get reservations early, praised by SF Chronicle and Frommer's.  Also see this blog post.
    • Antico Noe - volta di San Piero 6r, near Santa Croce, 055-234-0838, good quality/price, rec'd by Fodor's.  Tiny restaurant but great meals!
    • Haveli Ristoranti Indiano - Indian in Firenze? Of course. If you're looking for a break from the monotonous pizza/pasta/seafood combos that every Neapolitan restaurant serves, head northeast of Firenze SNM train station for a small ethnic feast. Call ahead, though, for reservations. With only a few tables, the most common complaint on tripadvisor is long waits! +39-055-355-695
    • Buca Mario - Piazza degli Ottaviani 16, 055-214-179, old school trattoria just south of the SMN train station; great bistecca fiorentina
    • Osteria de' Benci - via dei Benci 13, 055-234-4923, 12:30-3:30, 7:30-11, phone reservations only, near Santa Croce, a slightly fancier take on Italian specialties, highly recommended by chowhounds, Frommer's and Fodor's.
    • Antico Fattore - good truffle dishes; print out website coupon first!
    • Osteria delle Belle Donne - via delle Belle Donne 16r, near S.M.N. train station, 055-238-2609, rec'd by Fodor's.
    • Coco Lezzone - Via Parioncino 26r, S of SMN train station, Paoli family has run since the 70s, classic traditional dishes, rec'd in 2014 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia (not anymore in 2016)
    • Pallottino - via Isola delle Stinche 1r, 055-289-573, Fodor's rec's this simple trattoria.
    • Benevenuto - via della Mosca 16r, E of Uffizi, 055-214-833, rec'd by Fodor's.
    • Osteria Antica Mescita San Niccolò - via San Niccolò 60r, in Oltrarno, rec'd by Fodor's.
    • Il Santo Bevitore - Borgo Santo Spirito 64/66, also in Oltrarno, rec'd by Fodor's.
  • Tripe Specialists - one of Florence's traditional dishes is tripe (animal stomach), especially in the "lampredotto" sandwich
    • Nerbone (at the Mercato Centrale) - like a tavola calda, you can get fresh sandwiches with delicious tripe (!), highly recommended by many including Frommer'sFodor's, and 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
    • Orazio Nencioni - Loggia del Porcellino, fin the heart of the centro storico, clsoed Sun but otherwise open 10-7, rec'd 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
    • Mario Tato - Piazza Alberti (way East near Firenze Campo Marte train station)
    • Il Trippaio di San Frediano - Piazza dei Nerli (in Oltrarno, S of Amerigo Vespuci bridge / SMN train station), rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
    • Il Trippaio di Sant'Ambrogio - rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
    • La Tripperia delle Cure - rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
    • Mario Albergucci - Piazzale di Porta Romana, W of Piazzale Michelangelo, rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
    • Marco Bolognesi - on the east end of the centro storico, rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
    • Lupen e Margò - rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
    • Sergio (e Piero Paolo) Pollini - on the east end of the centro storico, rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
    • Leonardo Torrini - rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
    • La Tripperia delle Cure - N of the centro storico, rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
    • Le Trippaie - rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia, a bit NW of centro storico
    • Il Lampredottore - rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia, outside of centro storico
  • Wine Bars/Enotecas - serve lighter dishes along with drinks
    • Enoteca Pane e Vino - Piazza di Cestello 3R, in Oltrarno, mix of traditional and creative food, rec'd by Zagat and Michelin (and Cristina Tcheyan)
    • I (Due) Fratellini - Via de'Cimatori 38R, S of the Duomo, rec'd in Slow Food Osterie d'Italia (still in 2016) for sandwiches, crostini, and a glass of wine
    • Le Volpi e L'Uva - Piazza de'Rossi 1R, just S of Ponte Vecchio, rec'd in Slow Food Osterie d'Italia (still in 2016) for wine, cheese, crostini
    • Zanobini - Via Sant'Antonino 47, E of SMN train station, rec'd in Slow Food Osterie d'Italia (still in 2016)
    • Il Santino - Via Santo Spirito 60R, Oltrarno, rec'd in Slow Food Osterie d'Italia (still in 2016)
    • All'antico Vinaio - rec'd in Slow Food Osterie d'Italia (still in 2016)
    • Casa del Vino - rec'd in Slow Food Osterie d'Italia (still in 2016)
    • Amornio...Panino e Vino - rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
  • Outside Centro Storico
    • Da Burde - via Pistoiese 154, ~15 min W by car (~20-30 min by bus) from historic center, store/restaurant has been serving food since 1927, rec'd in Slow Food Osterie d'Italia (still in 2016)
    • (Trattoria) Ruggero - via Senese 89r, ~7 min S by car (~15 min by bus, ~30 min walk, SW of Pizzale Michelangelo) from historic center in Oltrarno, rec'd in Slow Food Osterie d'Italia (still in 2016)
    • Trattoria Tre Soldi - Via Gabriele D'Annunzio 4, ~20-30 min E, rec'd in 2014 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia (not anymore in 2016)
    • Tullio - rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
    • Aurelio - rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
    • I' Bambi - rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
    • Bistrot del Mondo Da Bobo all' Acciaiolo - rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
    • Dino - rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
  • Also recommended by chowhounds:
    • Osteria Santo Spirito - good antipasti, pasta (truffle gnocchi, rigatoni...), but another reader disappointed
    • I Latini - recommended by some but another says "has throngs of American lining up for mediocre food", rec'd by Frommer's and Fodor's.
    • Le Mossacce - more local
    • Acqua al Due
    • Mama Gina's
    • Croce al Trebbio (via dele Donne near SMN train station)
    • Il Ritrovo - a couple readers rec'd
    • Trattoria il Contadino - via Palazzuolo 69, cheap fixed price, great value
    • Traverna del Bronzino - good bistecca fiorentina, rec'd by a few people
    • Vecchia Bettola - popular with locals
    • Teatro del Sale - also has a "show" but is good food, same owner as Cibreo
    • Vine e Vecchi Sapori - off P. della Signorina, good home cooking
    • Hosteria del Birccio - in San Niccolo, recommended by a couple folks as authentic fiorentina
    • Golden View Open Bar - nice, you're mostly paying for view of Ponte Vecchio, good but not great food
  • Fiesole - nice town just north of Florence, with good views of the city
    • Cave di Maiano - rec'd by Fodor's for steak
    • San Domenico - rec'd by Fodor's
    • Vinandro - rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
    • Tremoto - rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
    • Tullio - rec'd by 2016 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
  • Lots of other ideas from Girl in Florence

Gelaterie

Florence has a number of good gelaterie:

Nightlife

Thanks to its large population of expat students, Florence has a great party atmosphere.  Time Out Florence probably has the best guide to nightlife, even if it isn't completely up-to-date (due to printing schedules).  Also see websites such as partyearthstudentsvilleworldtravelguide, and frommers.

Hotels/Accomodations

  • Hotel Orchidea - via Borgo degli Albizi 11, 055-248-0346, Cheap but beautiful rooms (singles €55!) and great location just E of the Duomo...the only disadvantage is that you share a bathroom down the hall.
  • First of Florence Aparthotel - Group-size apartments with the service (and breakfast) of a hotel. Less than a 5 min walk to the Duomo & right around the corner from the Academia (where the David lives). 10-15 minute walk to Firenze SMN station.
  • For a good list of cheap accomodations, see Let's Go
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