Florence Journals

Florence for Romance

Best of IgoUgo

A May 2001 trip to Florence by Mary Louisa

Florence Is for Food Lovers Photo, Florence, Italy More Photos
Quote: The romance of Florence can be covered in three days. Of course, some things you won’t have time to see; however, the highlights will fit into your itinerary. Don’t forget that most museums close on Mondays, so do some research regarding what is left to see that day—usually churches.

Florence for Romance

Best Of IgoUgo

Overview

Florence Is for Food Lovers Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
What things cost in May 2001: Taxi from train station (Stazione Centrale di Santa Maria Novella) to Hotel Ritz, (incl. tip) Hotel Ritz double room, /night (incl. lovely breakfast buffet) Nice dinner for two (four courses plus wine) at Ristorante Ricchi, Cup of gelato (three flavors) at Coronas Café, .50 Our most memorable and romantic moment in Florence: climbing up the Duomo cupola and looking out over the city. Our most memorable meal in Florence: lunch at Il Baraonda and my first taste of octopus. My biggest disappointment in Florence: Gelato at Vivoli—what’s all the fuss? What I really wanted to do but didn’t have time for this trip: see th...Read More

Hotel Ritz

Best Of IgoUgo

Hotel

Hotel Ritz Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
This was a super four-star hotel right on the Arno. Our little walk-out terrace was red tile with potted geraniums, overlooking the rushing, pea-green river. We had been forewarned about noisy Florentine hotel rooms, due to the street and sidewalk traffic, but Ritz has spared no expense at installing double-glazed French doors PLUS a pull-down, black-out exterior window shade that made day seem like night for us, and kept the noise to a dull roar. We were very pleased. From this spot we could walk to anywhere in the city within fifteen minutes, twenty to Pitti Palace, which is on the perimeter. Our double room, number 22, with two twin beds pushed together and made with double linen...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 16, 2001

Hotel Ritz
Lungarno della Zecca Vecchia, 24
Florence, Italy
(055) 234 0650

La Baraonda

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

La Baraonda Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
We ate lunch at La Baraonda on the recommendation of a guidebook and an IgoUgo poster, and it turned out to be the high point of our dining in Florence. There is currently scaffolding around the building, so you must look carefully for the place--don't miss it! The proprietor, Duccio Magni, and his wife/chef Elena run a wonderful show. Signore Magni met us at the door and took the time to explain in English the menu. Dave and I are fish-eating vegetarians, so turned down the complimentary sausage and cheese crostini, but took him up on his lunch suggestions, which were the following: I had insalata calda di polipo, ruchetta e fagioli (warm octopus, cannelini, and arugula salad, dressed ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 16, 2001

La Baraonda
Via Ghibellina, 67r
Florence, Italy 50121
+39 0552341171

Vivoli

Restaurant

Vivoli Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
Vivoli Gelateria gets lots of press in the guide books, but I'm not sure why. The gelato selection was not as wide as I had been led to expect, the line was extremely chaotic and the place was over-packed. While my and Dave's gelato was good (I got cioccolate and caffe, he got melone and ananas--pineapple), it wasn't worth the trouble, really.

Try Coronas Cafe instead (near the Duomo).

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on May 16, 2001

Vivoli
Via Isola delle Stinche 7r
Florence, Italy
(055) 292-334

Il Francescano

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant | "I'Francescano"

Il Francescano Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
The Hotel Ritz recommended this restaurant, and it turned out to be a nice experience. The total package is romantic--dim lighting, rustic decor (marble-topped farmhouse tables, rush-caned chairs), local "comfort" food of Tuscany. As is true of most Italian dining rooms, this restaurant runs at a leisurely pace, allowing couples time to look into one another's eyes over a glass of lovely house wine ($4.50 for a half liter). Italians and tourists alike were dining there on the night we went--it was full by 9:00. The menu featured lots of meat (pork ribs, chicken, sirloin, mixed Tuscan sausages, tripe, duck), but Dave and I found plenty of "fish-etarian" items. We started with the yum...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 16, 2001

Il Francescano
Largo Bargellini, 16
Florence, Italy 50123
+39 055241605

Trattoria Croce al Trebbio

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

Trattoria Croce al Trebbio Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
We had lunch at this pleasant trattoria south of Piazza Santa Maria Novella; it's open from noon to 1:30. There are two rustic dining rooms outfitted with stone, brick, stucco and wood. Rush chairs complement the traditional red and white checkered tablecloths and bottles of Chianti on every table. There is a wall of international currency, signed by visitors from all over the world--lots of fun to look at. The daily specials are photocopied and inserted on the front page of the menu. I had a luscious insalata di pere and pecorino (pear and cheese on shredded romaine), which I dressed with red vinegar, olive oil, and lemon juice. To follow, I enjoyed fresh tagliarini (size of spagh...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 17, 2001

Trattoria Croce al Trebbio
Via delle Belle Donne, 49r
Florence, Italy 50123
+39 055287089

Ristorante Le Colonnine

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant | "Le Colonnine"

Ristorante Le Colonnine Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
Pizza, pizza, pizza!!! This caffe-ristorante-pizzeria was open when we needed it (a Sunday night) and near our hotel in the Santa Croce neighborhood. They are closed on Monday though. Their wide selection of affordable pizzas (ca. $6) were large (I couldn't make it through all of mine) and tasty.

The service is typically Italian--no staff will bother you unless you get their attention first. The place was full of both Italians and tourists--a good sign, I always think. The building is adorable (see photo). It is a rustic triangular corner setting with a tiny outdoor patio, but much more seating inside. Give it a try!

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 17, 2001

Ristorante Le Colonnine
Via Dei Benci 6r
Florence, Italy
+39 (055) 234-6417

Ristorante Ricchi

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

Ristorante Ricchi Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
I found a reference to this Florence seafood restaurant in the December 2000 issue of Gourmet magazine and decided we should seek it out on this trip. Seriously, if you are fan of seafood and a fan of Italian cuisine, YOU MUST GO. If you don't have the time or money to do the main restaurant, there is "Bar Ricchi" right next door, with small dishes and take out, as well as their own gelato, desserts, and drinks you can enjoy on their outdoor patio. We headed there after a visit to the Pitti Palace, as Ristorante Ricchi is on the same side of town, the Oltrarno (across the Arno). We were greeted at 7:30pm (awfully early for Italy, I know) by the lovely wait staff, Ciro and Anna (both ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 17, 2001

Ristorante Ricchi
Piaza san Spirito 9/10R
Florence, Italy
055-215.864

Coronas Cafe

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

Coronas Cafe Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
This gelateria/pasticceria has everything you want when you are seeking a sweet taste of Florence. The uniformed women who work there are pleasant and helpful, the wood panelling and glass cases are sparkling and luxurious. Their gelato, which is made on the premises, arrives on a dumbwaiter from the upstairs kitchen, ready to go into the refrigerated displays. Dave sampled the mango and pineapple flavors, light and juicy with chunks of fruit in them. I had chocolate and coffee--creamy and rich with plenty of flavor. There were interesting flavors I had never seen there, including sedano alla soya, or celery for diabetics! It is apparently sugar and fat free. Dave and I had a taste, and i...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 17, 2001

Coronas Cafe
Via del Corso
Florence, Italy

Galleria dell'Accademia

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Accademia"

Galleria dell'Accademia Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
I had been to see Michelangelo's David at the Galleria dell'Accademia six years ago, when you were allowed to take pictures! (I've reused my old photo below.) Now, though, there are no photos allowed . . . but there are just as many visitors! David is impressive, certainly, but I still think his hands and feet are too big for his body. We noted some dust bunnies atop his shoulders--they must not clean him too often. Please stop and study the Prisoners of Michelangelo, who used to stand in the Grotto of the Boboli Gardens (now copies are in their places there). My husband and I enjoyed many of the paintings in the Accademia, but not all are masterpieces. Botticelli's Holy Family i...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 16, 2001

Galleria dell'Accademia
Via Ricasoli 60
Florence, Italy
055 238 8609

Galleria Palatina

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Galleria Palatina (located in Palazzo Pitti)"

Galleria Palatina Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
The Galleria Palatina is just one museum within the enormous Palazzo Pitti, on the other side of the Arno in Florence. It houses beautiful paintings in eye-popping settings. The gallery is part of the former Medici residence, also home to Italian royalty of the 19th century, and the decor reflects this former opulence. Entrance is 12,000 lire/person ($6) and tickets are sold until 5pm; the museum closes at 6:00. The Sala de Saturne is famous for its Raphael's, but they have been moved to the last room because the Sala de Saturne's ceiling fresco is undergoing restoration. In fact, the order of the rooms was backwards from the layout in several of our guidebooks, but we soon figured ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 16, 2001

Galleria Palatina
Piazza Pitti, 1
Florence, Italy 50125
+39 0552388614

Uffizi Gallery

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Uffizi"

Uffizi Gallery Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
Reserve your ticket ahead if you know what's good for you! We did, and were able to stride right up to the entrance and gain admission in about one minute flat. The price was 15,000 lire/person ($7.50) with a surcharge of $1.50 for the reservation. We also rented the audio guide in English, since the Uffizi is so large and has so many masterpieces. One audioguide with two listening devices (you have to love one another enough to stand close together) cost 12,000 lire ($6). A single audioguide cost 8,000 ($4). With the guide, we were able to cover the museum in about 2 hours and 45 minutes, including a break for espresso in the museum cafe. This former office complex ("uffizi" means ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 16, 2001

Uffizi Gallery
Piazzale Degli Uffizi, 6
Florence, Italy 50122
+39 05523885

Boboli Gardens (Giardini di Boboli)

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Boboli Gardens"

Boboli Gardens (Giardini di Boboli) Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
The gardens close at 6:30pm in May, and sell the last tickets one hour beforehand. Oddly enough, there is no picnicking allowed there, but there is a lovely Kaffehaus cafe for snacks and light meals with a stunning view. Buy your 4000 lire ticket ($2) inside the Pitti Palace courtyard and enter the gardens at the back (unlike the guidebooks directed). Initially, the gardens are taxing, because you must walk up and up and up through the amphitheatre and classical relics. Once you have a break to the left, head toward the Kaffehaus and the gardens below. See my photos for the breathtaking view. We did not have time to hike the gardens in full, and the Fort Belvedere on the ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 16, 2001

Boboli Gardens (Giardini di Boboli)
Behind the Pitti Palace
Florence, Italy 50122
+39 (055) 2388786

Basilica of Santa Croce

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Basilica di Santa Croce"

Basilica of Santa Croce Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
This church was just around the corner from our hotel (Ritz), so a visit was easy and relaxing. It is an imposing church, but once inside the serenity is palpable. The open-timbered roof is unique and seems almost rustic. You must pause to recognize all of the famous people either memorialized or buried here: Michelangelo, Dante, Galileo, Machiavelli, Rossini. There is a faded Donatello sculpture of the Annunciation on the right wall , and some restored frescoes by Giotto in the small chapels on either side of the main altar. Take some coins with you (they are hard to come by these days in Italy) to operate the light machines for better views inside the chapels. I was a...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 16, 2001

Basilica of Santa Croce
Piazza Santa Croce
Florence, Italy 50122
+39 055244619

Red Garter

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "The Red Garter"

Red Garter Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
This is an odd little thing in the center of Florence--an American style live music club. There's a bar up front, and in back are rows of benches and long tables, a bandstand, and a dance floor. Its rough, red and black decor fits the unpretentious atmosphere. The crowd there was late teens to mid-twenties, I would say (my husband and I and one set of parents were the only ones over thirty, except the staff). The act was a one-man show who played guitar and sang to his canned rhythm section, but he managed to work the crowd into a dancing frenzy. He covered everything from the Beatles to Richie Valens to Ricky Martin to Sting. The kids dancing were a fun combination of American students and Ital...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on May 16, 2001

Red Garter
Via De' Benci 33r
Florence, Italy
055-234-4904

Santa Maria del Fiore & Baptistery (Il Duomo)

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Duomo-Santa Maria del Fiore"

Santa Maria del Fiore & Baptistery (Il Duomo) Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
Dave and I began our tour of the Duomo with a trip up the cupola to look first at Brunelleschi's architectural masterpiece and then onto the city and countryside itself. While waiting in the 45-minute line for our tickets (10,000 lire/person or $5), we were able to study the beautiful white, pink, and green facade of the church and the adjacent campanile (bell tower) designed by Giotto. When time came to make the climb, we ascended up a tiny little staircase, with a few resting points and keyhole windows to pique our interest on the way up. At the halfway point, we were deposited onto an interior balcony ringing the impressive fresco painted on the dome. Take special note of the fellows at the ver...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 16, 2001

Santa Maria del Fiore & Baptistery (Il Duomo)
Piazza Del Duomo
Florence, Italy 50122
+39 055294514