I love italy. After getting married I Knew that instead of going on some romantic island in the middle of indian ocean for our honeymoon, I would rather go exploring those italian crazy places, food and wine for 2 weeks. I fell in love with italian places very intensely after watching my favourite tv show with italian chef Gino D´Acampo And so We started planning our Italian escape in Gino´s footsteps!We have visited 14 places within 14 days. Starting off in Vienna, Austria. Here are tips and hints from our 2nd place we have visited on our journey. FLORENCE.
1. visit Fiesole for real tuscan feeling and olive oil
To buy a good bottle of olive oil in Italy is maybe not the most difficult thing in the world. But I wanted to buy my bottle at the source! So I did a little research and found the Fattoria di Maiano near Florence, in little village called FIESOLE. They have a beautiful orchard with hundreds of olive trees where you can take a walk. They also have a restaurant with an option of having glass your first tuscan sample of chianti, if it´s your first visit in Tuscany. I loved the view from the restaurant and also their shop with good quality organic olive oil from their own production. Of course they have many different varietes. It is only up to you to choose one for yourself which suits you the best. I warmly recommend to visit there, for relaxed afternoon with a nice view of tuscan landscape and a glass of good wine.
2. Eat as a local, but cheap
I know that many people would recommend trying the famous "Bistecca alla Fiorentina" before going to Florence, but to be honest, I am not the biggest fan of steaks and apart of that, to spend more than 50€ for piece of meat, no, I am not very keen on doing that. I have tried the real treat which locals love that much. Lampredotto, or veal stomach was very popular in old days, when poor people didn´t have money for going to posh restaurants. So I tried it. There is this little kiosk on Piazza de Cimatori called L´Antico Trippaio very popular amongst the locals, who keep visiting this place every day. They serve Lampredotto, Porchetta (pork meat) or Bollito (beef boiled meat) in a bowl or a burger ban. After finishing our "main course" we went to the main square called Piazza del Duomo to take some more pictures of the majestic Florence Cathedral which is officialy called "Cattedrale di Santa Maria di Fiore", where I spotted this cute little ice cream shop "Don Nino" where they not only serve ice cream, but also the best pistachio dessert on the earth! They call it Green Cake and it is very rich and reamy dessert with pistacchio cream inside, all covered in green pistachio chocolate and pistachio nuts. Although they are not very cheap, 5€ to grab a little cake to take with you is a good investment in this case :-) This is the BEST italian semifreddo: Do not forget the local specialty called Zuccotto! We have grabed ours in a small coffee bar near our B&B and it was absolutely delicious!
3. have a drink in unusual location
Since I have a colleague who showed me around in Florence, I have a secret tip for very romantic and prestigious location for your coctail just before the sun starts to set. Hotel Lungarno. This hotel is set in a discreet quiet corner just beside the river Arno with the most beautiful view of Ponte Vecchio, one of the "MUST SEE" things in Florence. This hotel is a 5 star hotel, so be keep in mind that drinks are more expensive then is the average in Florence. But the view and atmosphere is really worth it.
4. take a bus early in the morning to piazzale michelangelo
It is very well known, for those out there who are into photography, that the best time to take beautiful pictures of cities and landscapes is either early morning or just before sun starts setting down. When I went to Piazzale Michelangelo I realized how beautiful looks everything when the city is just waking up. I would definitely recommend getting up early and go to places which are normally overcrowded by tourists around midday. Early morning is the perfect time to enjoy the peace and beauty around. Piazzale Michelangelo is a spot across the river Arno on the hill which offers beautiful view of the whole Florence. Definitely one place to go to while in Florence. You can catch bus Nr. 12 or 13 from the Piazza Santa Maria di Novella which is the square outside of the main train station in Florence. On the Piazzale Michelangelo, there are also many souvenir shops around, a restaurant and a caffee (be ready to pay for the coffee more than in the city center) where you can sip on your morning espresso.
5. visit local market famous for good food
Our first stop in Florence after we parked our car and checked in in our B&B, was the Mercato di San Lorenzo which is basically an indoor market with many stalls and markets inside, offering good food, wines and some other stuff such as leather goods and arts. It is bustling place full of local people enjoying their slice of pizza, arancino, sweet cannolo or glass of franciacorta (the same as we did) in L´enoteca Sandro Soltani Caffe Sant´Ambrogio which I highly recommend - it is the perfect place to try many different italian wines!