Florence Advice: Put away that Baedeker Miss Honeychurch
April 11, 2011 6:54 AM   Subscribe

Travelfilter: Florence Italy for 4 nights over Easter. Any tips on what we Must See, Must Eat or Must Do.

Food & drink is a major interest of mine. Hence recommendations for restaurants and local specialties that one should try are appreciated.

Just general advice on what to bother seeing. Is it true that you can avoid the queues by having your hotel purchase tickets? Also would love any tips for 'reliving' scenes from Room With A View.

I've been to Rome but not traveled elsewhere in Italy and speak no real Italian...

We are staying quite central, Via Faenza 50123. I imagine its quite a walkable city.. hmm would cycling around be absurd (traffic, chaos, etc)?
posted by mary8nne to Travel & Transportation around Florence, Italy (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Cycling in Florence is awesome. Most drivers are horribly rude to other cars, but actually realy great about cyclists. It blew my mind. This holds for traffic in Centro as well as in the areas around Florence. I went with a couple of cyclist friends and we just couldn't stop talking about how amazing it was.

My favorite meal ever was in Florence at Trattoria Angiolino. It's at Via Santo Spirito 36/r. We had very good service in English and pretty much everyone at our table of 14 or so was bowled over by our respective meals. If you ask the boss what to have that night, I pretty much guarantee that you'll have an amazing meal.
posted by advicepig at 7:10 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

One thing: when you're fed up with the crowds (and you will be, oh you will be), grab a bus up to Fiesole. There are lovely taverns/restaurants views down the valley to Florence. Completely refreshing - and it's where Boccacio fled to escape the plague, and wrote the Decamerone.
posted by likeso at 7:15 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

with views, of course. *sigh*
posted by likeso at 7:15 AM on April 11, 2011

At the Duomo, climb the bell tower instead of the dome...the line is usually shorter, and it's more exciting to stand in the tower and see the dome than to stand in the dome and see the tower.

Also, gelato di riso -- rice pudding-flavored ice cream with little bits of rice in it. So delicious, and a flavor I have not ever found in the US.

For the full RWaV experience, you'll need to go to Santa Croce.
posted by apparently at 7:21 AM on April 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

Must go: Uffizi galleries. Booking ahead means a much shorter queue - you can't avoid queuing entirely. But FFS, Botticelli's Birth of Venus wasn't even the best thing in the room it was in.

Food? - steak, tripe, Pecorino Toscano with Tuscan honey as an appetiser, lardo on toast - most things, although the seafood's poor.
posted by hawthorne at 7:23 AM on April 11, 2011

I went on two of these walking tours, and they were perfect: Artviva

They're all led by native English speakers with advanced degrees in whatever they're talking about (history, art, etc). They were very intimate and small groups, and they included line-skipping.
posted by thebazilist at 7:24 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

You must see the David. Book your tickets online (for everything in Italy) online. I found Florence to be one of the most walkable cities I've ever been in.
posted by bananafish at 7:29 AM on April 11, 2011

Oh! If you're not a vegetarian, you MUST try bistecca alla fiorentina. Meatlover? You'll swoon. Outback is for wusses.

I highly, personally recommend Ristorante La Maremma, Via Giuseppe Verdi, 16/r | 50100 FIRENZE (FI)
Tel. Fisso: 055 244615 Fax: 055240972

Caveat: their website has annoying muzak.
posted by likeso at 7:33 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Florence has some of the best gelato EVER, IMO. There is a place called Gelataria Emporio right across the Arno that is delicious. Here's a google maps street view.

(As a food snob... I would say avoid Grom gelato. It's good, but just not THAT good. You took an 8 hour plane, right? Why not eat the best?)

Also, check out San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale which is a lovely food marketplace. There's a lot of little shops and plenty of places to grab a quick lunch. The food is freaking delicious. I don't know how adventurous an eater you are but the tripe sandwich (lampredetto) is out of the world. Seriously. My mouth is watering right now.

This isn't specific to Florence or even Italy but go to a nice local cafe and get some hot chocolate. It should be thick and black. It is chocolate heaven.

I was not that impressed with the Florentine steak. It was a good steak but nothing special. I think you'd be better off spending your money on something else.

It would be nice to try and speak a little Italian when you are there. Things like prego, grazie, per favore, buongiorno, buonasera... they go a long way and people will appreciate it, even if your pronunciation sucks.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 8:55 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, yes i'm also a bit of a food snob so can be choosey on where I eat. And quite game on food so the Tripe Sandwich sounds up my alley. (I quite liked the beef spleen sandwich I ate in Palermo ;) so will try and check out Mercato San Lorenzo.

Yeah I should brush up a little on the Italian if i can find the time this week.
posted by mary8nne at 9:21 AM on April 11, 2011

Florence is a difficult place to eat very well. You cannot just expect to find something good. Checkout chowhound, egullet, et al. Also use the Slowfood Locanda e osterie guidebook. Make sure you have a plan.
posted by JPD at 9:47 AM on April 11, 2011

I was in Florence in November, and all the buzz seemed to be about a restaurant called Il Santo Bevitore -- and it did not disappoint. Best meal of the trip! It was hard to get a table -- definitely try to reserve in advance.
posted by AwkwardPause at 10:31 AM on April 11, 2011

One afternoon my friends and I walked from the center of the city across town and up the hill to the Piazzale Michelangiolo and the San Miniato al Monte cathedral. The walk will probably take you through areas you haven't been before, and once you cross the river it's a little calmer, which is a nice change from the touristy hustle and bustle of the city center.

The walk up to the piazza is beautiful and it gives amazing views of the city. The cathedral is gorgeous and simple and dark, unlike most of the others you'll visit. On our way back we stopped at the wine bar Fuori Porta for dinner. Great food and wine, a cosy place to relax before the walk back.

Enjoy your trip!
posted by svdodge at 10:31 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I waited in line for the Uffizi Museum (not sure on spelling) for HOURS and I regret it. While I am sure I saw some great works of art inside, my best time there was spent at the piazza michaelangelo listening to street artists play music and taking in the spectacular view, as well as sampling as much gelato as possible. I also swapped the "fake" david in lieu of the real one. The Duomo was definitely worth the wait - the hike up, and the views were amazing. We went to Za Za's for dinner and it was amazing. Enjoy!!
posted by kmr at 3:41 PM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

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