12.17.2015

Christmas and New Year's Eve in Florence

Florence is amazing during winter Holidays! Streets and shops are "dressed" with colours, lights, hearts, Christmas's trees and all that lovvy doggy things :)
This year actually also the main artistic and historic sights are totally new enlightened thanks to F-Light Festival, a modern system of lights - images-colours projection on the buildings. Old Bridge, Santo Spirito Façade, ex-Court in SS Firenze are simply amazing!

In Santa Croce square the traditional Christmas Market, typical of Northern Italy and Austrian areas - excellent vin brulé, beer and nice gifts.

In Piazza del Carmine Santa Claus Village with a ice-skating facility, different games for kids and the real mail-box to send Christmas letters to Santa Claus!


Cathedrale Square  - Thanks to Firenze Repubblica.it


Museums

I haven't received any official communication yet, but I guess during festivities museums will be regularly open - except on December 24th and 31st when Uffizi, Accademia and Pitti Palace will close an hour earlier, so at 05,50 pm instead of 06,50 pm.

On December 25th and January 1st no museum will be open - except some extraordinary openings that eventually will be decided last minute, that I will update on this post straight away.

Temporary exhibition "Divine Beauty" at Palazzo Strozzi will be open daily 10,00 am to 08,00 pm - also on December 24th - 25th and January 1st

My boyfriend - David

Restaurants open on Christmas Day and New Year's Eve

Ok, it will be a bit hard to find a lot of places open on Christmas day, cause in Italy it is really strong to keep up with traditions, and so we definitely prefer to stay home with our families and cook ourselves, stay basically 4/5 hours at the table, eat like there is no tomorrow, and play with kids and games like Tombola.
Since I cannot invite you all at my house, here some names for your December 25th meal in Florence:

11.13.2015

New Opera Duomo Museum - a spectacular museum!

It was already one of my favourite museums - then they decided to close for another restauration, they just reopened on Oct 29th 2015 and I have to admit that I have almost cried... it is so intense, moving, beautiful and worth-seeing museum! The best.

Opera of Duomo opens in 1891 to host the Pieta of Michelangelo, without a home... then it became the deposit of many many sculptures, paintings, sacred objects - that were before kept inside the Cathedral or inside the Baptistry, and then got replaced by more modern pieces.

Ancient Façade Room

Arnolfo di Cambio, the main architect of the Cathedral, started the works on September 8th 1296 - and he worked also to the main façade. Unfortunately he died before the Cathedral and the façade were finished (poor destiny for medieval architects... they never survived to their projects!)
In 1587 the façade was totally demolished, and finally accomplished only in 1881!
Did you know that our façade was so young?

So, they have reconstruct a 1:1 scale façade with the original statues... it represents the ancient space between Cathedral doors and Baptistry - so if you turn around you will admire also the beautiful gilded bronze doors by Ghiberti!
It is a magnificent setting, a moving room, you will find yourself in tears. Outstanding

Virgin Mary with brilliant eyes

The Paradise Gate - Lorenzo Ghiberti
Ancient Façade Room


Beheading of St. John the Baptist - Rustici


Detail of Paradise Gate - Mosé


Donatello's Magdalene and Michelangelo's Pietà

On the ground floor you will admire 2 incredibly intense statues: the wood Magdalene by Donatello, founded lost in the desert after years of wandering, she was devasted, skinny, her clothes were destroyed... she is surprised to see you, and she opens a bit her mouth. A superb and moving representation of Magdalene

And what about the Pietà by Michelangelo?

10.29.2015

My personal Tripadvisor - Restaurants in Florence

Buca Lapi - Bistecca
Tripadvisor is the most utilized way to check out Hotels and Restaurants; at least to have an idea of the type of place, where is located and see some photos. I do it myself too, and I also write feedbacks. But somehow you also have to be careful with Tripadvisor, cause not always it reflects the reality, especially when it comes to “where you are listed as position”.

So, since you often ask my opinion on where you sleep and eat, here’s my personal list

My favourite restaurants in Florence and surroundings

Tripadvisor – mmmm for the restaurants section I do not entirely agree ! The first 20/30 places are ice cream places (Gelateria) and sandwich stands where it is a miracle if you have a stool – no problem with sandwich and icecream ,  but how can you call these places “restaurants”???
My favourite places are normally easy going Trattorias where the relationship between quality/quantity and price is very good – I like to eat, I love going out for dinner, and for me this is a big part of a trip. You will find in my list also some gourmet place, but in general I’m not that type of person, I enjoy fine dining, but it is kind of too much, especially the too formal atmosphere.

Then another aspect to clarify – all of you ask me “I don’t want a tourist place” – I understand you wish a place where you do not have a fix menu with photos and 200 languages, or those creapy buffet places, but if you mean “I don’t want to hear English speaking” well, this is NOT POSSIBLE. Not even out of the city center. So, I will tell you places very good, very friendly, where as a local I go myself too, excellent wine list but for sure you will find tourists, Florence is full of tourists, luckily, and Florentines are rare as pandas... 
Divided by category:

Trattorias
Easy going places, typical, casual, Tuscan food, some will reflect the stereotypical idea of Tuscany, some have a modern twist – price range 35-70 Euro

13 Gobbi - busy, lively, excellent wine list, fresh homemade pasta, open lunch and dinner - Via del Porcellana 9/red - Santa Maria Novella area - 055 284015

Buca Lapi - one the best Bistecca in town (T-Bone steak), a bit more pricey but absolutely worthed, very difficult to get reservation, open just for dinner - Via del Trebbio 1/r - Tornabuoni area - 055 213768

Touch Florence - my number one right now - fresh tuscan cuisine, with a superb presentation and a TOP service, high level - small, intimate, out of the tourist path, local. Open just for dinner, in the morning they organize private cooking classes, for small groups, with visit to the local farmers market  - Via Fiesolana, 18/red - Santa Croce area - 055 2466150
Cinghiale Bianco - I adore the staff, too friendly, special for wild boar, artichokes salad and Mascarpone Cream - open only for dinner during the week, on the weekend also for lunch - Borgo San Jacopo, 43 - Oltrarno area - 055 215706
Mangiafoco - charming wine bar witn an extensive menu for pasta lovers, meat and vegetarian eaters, but especially for those who loves wine. In the good season you will find also truflle!
Open lunch and dinner, but also in the afternoon you can taste their great trays of coldcuts and cheeses - Borgo SS Apostoli 26/r - Ponte Vecchio area - 055 2658170

Vini e Vecchi Sapori (no website) - literally a hole in the wall, few tables, always packed, but if you are lucky to get a table you are going to love this typical, crazy, busy and super florentine place. Pappardelle with duck sauce is my choice, and also raspberries Tiramisù - open lunch and dinner - Via dei Magazzini 3 red - Signoria area - 055 293045

Il Parione - charming trattoria, great steak, also pasta and dessert are very good. In a nice quiet street, that has the same name - Via del Parione 74/76 red - Tornabuoni area - 055 214005
Paoli - in a beautiful historical palace with frescoed ceilings and walls, an excellent choice especially for lunch since it is in the heart of downtown, where it is not easy to find a good place during your touring day - Via dei Tavolini 12/r - Signoria area - 055 216215
Sostanza (no website) - super easy, super rustic, excellent Bistecca and artichokes omelette, only cash payment, open lunch and dinner, difficult to get a reservation - Via del Porcellana 25/red - Santa Maria Novella area - 055 212691
Pandemonio - let Mamma taking care of you, she will treat you like the typical italian mum, so filling you up with good food! Open lunch and dinner -  Via del Leone 50/red - Oltrarno area  - 055 224002

Vecchia Bettola (no website) - just outside of the historical center, typical and old fashioned style trattoria, try fried things like chicken or rabbit, open lunch and dinner -  Via Vasco Pratolini, 3 - Oltrarno area, outside of the ancient wall- 055 224158

Fonticine - excellent Bistecca, old fashioned classic

1.17.2015

My personal Tripadvisor - Hotels in Florence

Tripadvisor is the most utilized way to check out Hotels and Restaurants; at least to have an idea of the type of place, where is located and see some photos. I do it myself too, and I also write feedbacks. But somehow you also have to be careful with Tripadvisor, cause not always it reflects the reality, especially when it comes to “where you are listed as position”.

So, since you often ask my opinion on where you should sleep and eat, here’s my personal list. Today we talk about Hotels, next post about Restaurants.

My favourite Hotels in Florence
For Hotels, I have to say , Tripadvisor’s list is not too bad, but these are my choices:

Luxury 5 Stars

Jk Place – in the beautiful Santa Maria Novella square, a boutique Hotel with a superb design, classy and modern at the same time
Portrait Firenze – the new born of the Ferragamo chain (Lungarno Collection)- unbeatable location (right in front of Ponte Vecchio) top service very personalized and friendly for this boutique Hotel

St. Regis – classic, faboulous, just been refurbished – a bit more out of the tourist path, in Piazza Ognissanti, which is a 15 minutes walking from Ponte Vecchio and Cathedral Square
Villa Cora – on the hills of Florence, if you want to escape from the chaos and breath the Tuscan hills air, a beautiful Villa just restored
St Regis
 
Villa Cora
JkPlace
 


Portrait Firenze
 

4 Stars

Plenty of choice here...classic Renaissance Style, modern, cozy, big... look what’s better for you in term of location, style and of course the car – Florence is a nightmare for driving, in case you need to park your car chose a place that can take care of your car, or get out of the city centre and then move around by bus or taxi

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