Travels in Italy

After spending a year in Italy, I have a lot of friends asking me for travel recommendations. In case you are planning a trip to Florence, here are the top vacation picks I discovered while living the bella vita (aside from the obvious tourist attractions such as the Uffizi and the Statue of David).

Florence
Almost everything I list is close together, located between the Duomo (the large church in the center of town) and Piazza Santa Croce (meaning Saint Cross Square, where the locals go). Directions and a map can be found at any internet point/ hotel clerk desk.

Accommodation
Ostello Archi Rossi (Via Faenza 94, http://www.hostelarchirossi.com/
Near the train station and said to be the best hostel in Europe. I was never able to book a room, but I’ve heard rumors of hot-tubs and free wireless internet. Definitely make reservations in advance if your a traveling twenty-something.

Sights
Piazza Michelangelo
Hike up or take a bus for a great view overlooking Florence from this Piazza on a hill. It’s most beautiful at sunset or sunrise.

Fancy Restaurants
*Aqua al Due (http://www.acquaal2.com/)- Near Piazza St. Croce
Has the most innovative and delicious food I found in Italy. DON’T MISS IT.

Recommendations: 
Make sure to get the Assaggio (sampler) of pasta and dessert so you can try everything. The Gorgonzola pasta is my favorite.* If you eat meat, the balsamic vinegar steak (Filetto Balsamico) is great.  Not too expensive, but don’t  consider prices for food like this.

I Latini Classic, tuscan style food in a setting where you sit with other people and make friends while you eat. Enormous steaks, the Zuppa Inglese (English soup cake) is fantastic. It’s tucked away but worth the search.

Lunch
Both places below are behind the Duomo to the right.

The Oil Shoppe– (open M-F, Via San Edigio)– Has amazing, large paninis that are very cost efficient (4-6 euro).

Eby’s (Via Sell’ Oriuolo, 5r)– If the Oil Shoppe is closed or your tired of Italian food, across the street is this great South American place. The burritos are good, but the shots are GREAT (get the *tequila boom boom* or the *bob marley*).

Lunch or Casual Dinner

*Il Gatto e La Volpe (The Cat and the Fox)-Via Ghibellina 151/r, S. Croce
My favorite casual restaurant- a Pinocchio-themed Osteria where my friend Fatjon works (ask for him if you go).*

Osteria de’Peccatori (Restaurant of Sinners) Piazza San Firenze, 14r- between Piazza della Signoria and Piazza St. Croce.
Always open, has great pizza and even better prices.

Apertivo
(Meaning Cocktail Hour- Very popular Italian tradition and a great time to grab free food and cheap drinks)

Moyo
 (http://www.moyo.it/, St. Croce) Happy hour 6-10 p.m.

All you have to do is buy a drink and you get unlimited free food. It’s classy and locals like to hang out there (a rare find in Florence). Located in close proximity to the bars I recommend listed below.

Going Out
All three bars listed below are behind the duomo and near Piazza St. Croce. They are also close together along the same street- therefore easier to stumble back and forth from when inebriated.

*BeBop – at the Duomo on the left side (Via de Servi 76/r)
Every Tues.-Beatles cover band, Thurs.- Oasis cover band.
 There’s great live music every night, which is often in Italian. It’s trendy, laid-back and fun* DON’T MISS.

Salamanca– Near Twice (below)
A
n atmospheric Spanish bar. Great specialty drinks and Tapas.

*Twice Club (Via Giuseppe Verdi, 57 St. Croce)
The most popular place to dance and go out at night.

Shopping
San Lorenzo Market -Best prices for souvenirs.

Random Tips:

Italian shoes (particularly boots) are very well-made and a great purchase to make in Italy if you don’t want to stand out as a tourist.

If you go to an Irish Pub anywhere in Italy, order the Guinness drink called “Liverpool Kiss”

2. Rome 
It’s so huge the only advice I can give you is go to the areas ‘Trastevere’ (food), and‘Testachio’ (going out) to see the real Rome and avoid other tourists *

Best Gelato in Italy
Della Palma Gelato (By the Pantheon, Roma Via della Maddalena 20).

Mind-blowing Pizza Portare Via (Take away)
Pizza del’Arte (Via Arenula, 75/76 by Largo Argentina)*. 

Vila Borghese
– A beautiful large park that’s a great place to picnic.

And of course, see the Statue of David, Pantheon, Colosseum, Uffizi, Vatican, etc.


Sign on the Ponte Vecchio- Florence, Italy

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