Browsing Category

Florence

Desserts, Family Fun, Firenze, Florence, Gelato, Italy, Tuscany

Three Scoops: Gelato in Florence

October 6, 2016

After a long day of touring, or in the middle of a long day of touring, or just because you’re in Italy, in the beautiful city of Florence, you’ll want gelato. Even if it’s wintertime. Avoid the places with the big puffy gelato displays and colors not often seen in nature. Look for signs that say gelateria artigianale, naturale, or biologico.  Go for gelaterias that keep the ice cream in stainless containers—covered stainless containers are even better.

img_2847

Covered stainless steel containers keep gelato fresh and flavorful. Daily flavors will be listed on signs along with prices.

All the available flavors will be written on a sign and you already know what fragola (aka strawberry) looks like. We love that you can choose two or more flavors even for small cones or cups, so experiment with any flavor combination you fancy. Go wild! If someone behind the counter asks, “Panna?” Just say “Si” and your cono will be topped with delicious fresh whipped cream, often at no extra charge. Feel free to indulge.

img_2848

To make your gelato even more satisfying, say yes to panna montata– fresh whipped cream often offered gratis– free!

In Florence, some say Perche No! www.percheno.firenze.it can’t be beat. This is one of the oldest gelaterias in the city, serving it forth since 1939. It is good, really good, so if you’re in the city center you should definitely stop in for a cone.

img_8375

Many of the best gelaterias have lines, but they go quickly. It is worth waiting at places like La Carraia.

Often touted as the best in town, La Carraia www.lacarraiagroup.eu , with two shops in Florence, is branching out and opening a store in Rome, too. We like their gelateria on the Altro Arno just over the bridge of the same name. This is a line worth standing on– and there is always a line. They also have scrumptious looking cakes and other tempting confections but we single-mindedly stick to the gelato.

img_8376

You can choose at least two flavors even on small cones.

img_8378

It’s hard not to be happy with a cone in your hand.

Our little apartment’s location by the Duomo caused us to walk by Edoardo daily. www.edoardobio.it We don’t resist temptation often or easily so had ample opportunity to sample their delicious gelato. Just grab a number by the door and peruse the list of daily flavors while you inhale the intoxicating aroma of their handmade cones. Don’t worry–the line goes quickly.

img_3297

Grab a number and enjoy the heady aroma of fresh baked cones while you wait at Edoardo.

img_2849

This is what delicious looks like. Chocolate with chili (cioccolato con peperoncino) and cinnamon (cannella) are two of my favorite flavors.

Grom www.grom.it was the first of the “all natural” gelato we enjoyed many years ago and it’s still delicious. The company began in Torino and now you’ll find them in cities across Italy, including Florence, and around the world from New York to Jakarta. They even have an outpost in Los Angeles now.

img_3717

Grom is in cities throughout Italy and worldwide.

Gelato preferences are personal, of course, so go explore. Find your favorites and please share your discoveries with us.

 

 

 

Architecture, Art, Churches, Family Fun, Firenze, Florence, History, Italy, Museums, Tuscany

Il Grande Museo del’Opera del Duomo: All About Florence’s Famous Duomo

October 3, 2016

Florence’s Il Grande Museo del’Opera del Duomo has nothing at all to do with opera. Instead, it is all about the work, or opera, involved in building, preserving and maintaining one of the most recognizable Renaissance buildings in the world—Florence’s Duomo, also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.

img_2754

A spectacular view of Brunelleschi’s dome from Caffe La Terrazza.

If you’ve ever wanted to see how Brunelleschi’s magnificent dome was constructed, learn what the other options were for the Duomo’s facade, or see the remarkable art treasures once housed in the cathedral, this is the place to come.

img_2161

Welcome to the recently reopened and reimagined Museo del’Opera del Duomo.

img_2111

Soaring galleries give visitors a new perspective on the superb sculpture on display at the museum.

Re-opened in October 2015 after years of restoration and reconstruction, the Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo has an exquisite collection of sculpture, paintings and other masterworks displayed on three floors in 6,000 square meters of exhibit space, all designed to showcase the art to its best visual and historical advantage.

img_2104

A visitor gets an up close look at a statue in the museum.

Most of the works were at one time in, or outside the Duomo.

img_2128

These sculptures once graced niches in Giotto’s bell tower.

Some of the treasures to be found include the original North Doors created by Lorenzo Ghiberti for the Baptistry of San Giovanni along with the Doors of Paradise by Lorenzo and Vittorio Ghiberti. Replicas now hang on the Baptistry.

img_2181

Ghiberti’s stunning Doors of Paradise and North Door once graced the Baptistry of San Giovanni but can now be found inside the museum.

img_2178

Detail of door.

In all, the museum boasts 750 works of art covering 720 years of history.

img_2209

Arnolfo di Cambio’s stunning Christ with the Soul of Mary

img_2152

This exquisite silver alter features scenes from the life of John the Baptist and was created by Lorenzo Ghiberti, Betto di Geri, Bernardo Cennini, Antonio di Salvi, Francesco and Leonardo di Giovanni, Antonio del Pollaiolo and Andrea del Verrocchio.

Michelangelo’s poignant pieta, sculpture by Donatello including his magnificent Mary Magdalene as Penitent, and works by Andrea Pisano, Antonio Pollaiolo, Arnolfo di Cambio and other highly regarded Medieval and Renaissance artists are on display.

img_2580

Michelangelo sculpted this pieta for his own tomb. He later destroyed it. It was reconstructed and acquired by Cosimo de Medici In 1671 and placed in the Duomo in 1722. It was the next to last sculpture Michelangelo ever created.

img_2176

Donatello’s Mary Magdalene as Penitent draws many visitors.

img_2579

Sacred items and iconography are part of the museum’s extensive collection.

img_2108In the Cappella Musicale, or music gallery, you will hear enchanting sacred music, and find works by Luca della Robbia and others, as well as rare illuminated music books.

img_2143

Beautiful music fills this gallery where rare illustrated books, sacred objects and art treasures are displayed.

img_2164Brunelleschi’s dome, still considered a marvel of engineering, remains one of Florence’s most iconic monuments.

img_2249

Models of Brunelleschi’s dome show how it was built and why it remains an engineering marvel.

In addition to the art treasures, the museum contains original building materials, equipment and tools, dating back to the Duomo’s 15th century construction.

img_2137

Wooden pulleys, ropes and other original construction equipment used to build the Duomo can be seen at the museum.

img_2140

Original 15th century tools and equipment used to build the Duomo are displayed near a continuously running film that explores the design and construction.

Also featured are drawings and models of the dome and Giotto’s bell tower, which was begun in 1334, after Giotto’s death. An outdoor terrace offers splendid views of the dome.

img_2133

Brunelleschi’s wooden model of the dome fascinates visitors.

img_2124

A detailed model of the bell tower designed by Giotto is on display near beautiful stained glass windows created by notables including Ghiberti, Donatello, Paolo Uccelli and Andrea del Castagno.

Visitors to the museum will learn about the history of this spectacular cathedral, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio and dedicated in 1412. The name Santa Maria del Fiore means St. Mary of the Flowers or Virgin of the Flowers. Once the largest church in all of Europe, today it is third in size, after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral.

img_2134A film called Courage to Dare about Florence during the Renaissance and the creation and construction of the Duomo runs continuously in the museum.

img_2103

A number of possibilities considered for the Duomo’s facade are on display, including this one.

Combination tickets can be purchased for the Duomo Museum, the Baptistery, the bell tower and the Crypt of Santa Reparta, named for the 7th century church that once stood on the site of the Duomo. There is no charge to enter the Duomo, but paid tickets are required for visitors who wish to climb the more than 400 steps to the top of the bell tower.

img_2213

The Baptistry of San Giovanni always draws crowds. Tickets are required to enter.

Appropriate clothing is essential for entry. In other words, no shorts, short skirts or skimpy, shoulder baring tops on women or men. Bulky bags and backpacks must be checked. Visit www.ilgrandemuseodelduomo.it for information on ticket prices, hours and tours.

img_2215

Admission to the Duomo is free but take care to dress appropriately or you will be denied entry.

On our visit, we also had free access to a photographic exhibition called Opera di Viva by Michele Pecchioli, which paid tribute to the hundreds of men and women who have worked to preserve the artistic integrity and cultural heritage of the building and the art works within for more than 700 years.

img_2565

Michele Pecchioli’s photographs pay tribute to the men and women who restore and preserve the art and cultural heritage of Florence’s iconic Duomo.

img_2560The photos feature the restorers, artists, employees and security guards who play a role in safeguarding these treasurers and ensuring public access to the works for years to come. Note: This was a temporary exhibition and may now longer be available for viewing.

img_2561

A close up of a security guard charged with safeguarding the priceless treasures at the Duomo and its museum.

When the sun begins to set in Florence, head over to Piazzale Michelangelo for another perspective on the Duomo —and enjoy the gorgeous vista across the Arno over the city.

img_7935

Some of the most spectacular views of Florence can be had from the Piazzale Michelangelo. Don’t miss a visit to the beautiful San Miniato al Monte across the street. It’s the oldest church in Florence, after the Baptistry.

img_7939

Florence’s Duomo viewed from Piazzale Michelangelo.

img_2764

The department store La Rinescente has a terrace restaurant with fine views of the Duomo, as well as drinks and light fare.

If you crave an aperitivo with your sunset and Duomo views, go to La Rinascente, the department store on Piazza Repubblica. Go directly up to La Terrazza on the top floor and you’ll find a little rooftop café/bar with great views of the city and the iconic dome. It gets crowded so get there early or be prepared to wait.

img_2766

img_2771

Sensational sunset view over the Piazza della Repubblica from Caffe La Terrazza.

Cin Cin!

 

 

Desserts, Dining, Firenze, Florence, Italy, Pizzerias, Restaurants, Tuscany, Wine bars

Florentine Favorites: Where to Eat

September 28, 2016

Many visitors to Florence seem to be on a quest, trying to squeeze in as much culture as they can in a few short days. Don’t overlook the culinary component of travel. Take a deep breath and spend some real time in this glorious city if you can, and take time out for some superb dining while you’re here.

A quick 10- minute walk from our apartment near the Duomo over the Ponte Santa Trinita brought us to Il Santo Bevitore’s welcoming doors. It seemed like everyone inside ilsantobevitore.com was having a great time. We did, too, and put it at the top of our list of Florentine favorites.

img_2305

Il Santo Bevitore on the Altro Arno is one of our absolute Florentine favorites.

The comfortable dining rooms (there is a large one, pictured above, and a smaller one just beyond it) are lively and full of happy diners enjoying the excellent cuisine. The atmosphere is casual and warm with just the right amount of buzz.

img_2277

You can request an English menu or practice your language skills with the Italian one.

The food is absolutely delicious and the service is attentive and friendly. Some stand outs were the porcini risotto, the pigeon, rombo, and the veal.

img_2296

This simple pear and pecorino salad was a perfect starter.

img_2279

We always say, “si” to a sformatino– a light, savory custard just right as a first course..

img_2859

Il Santo Bevitore’s veal was perfectly prepared.

You can’t go wrong with the pastas, meat or fish—whatever you choose is going to be good. Save room for dessert though.  The chestnut torte and yogurt mousse were both terrific.

img_2293

The succulent pigeon is a game bird lover’s delight.

img_2292

Fresh fish (rombo in this case), lardons, and potatoes were elegantly plated and beautifully prepared.

img_2883

Save room for dessert. This yogurt mousse was spectacular.

We would’ve eaten at Il Santo Bevitore every night, but felt the need to explore some of Florence’s other delightful dining options. Remember, reservations here are a must. Il Santo Bevitore is open for lunch and dinner.

img_3068Try Cucina Torcicoda cucinatorcicoda.com for lunch or dinner. They have a restaurant, a casual trattoria, and a pizzeria– all in the same building.  When you book in, and you must reserve, let them know which you prefer. They’ll be very different dining experiences but all delicious.

img_3057

Torcicoda’s elegant and tranquil dining room.

img_3070

Torcicoda’s wine list features fine selections from all over Italy.

We had an excellent dinner in the restaurant. The food was superb and the service attentive.

img_3074

This exquisite pork dish was rich and flavorful. The chestnuts gave it a great contrasting texture and crunch.

img_3448

Memories of this sensational truffle- topped tenderloin make my mouth water.

The casual trattoria has a different menu from the restaurant’s and it looked good, though we didn’t have time to try it.

img_3060

We’ll try the casual trattoria next time.

We ate lunch at Torcicoda’s pizzeria and sampled four different pies. We were especially pleased with the ones topped with fresh buffala mozzarella cheese– gooey and delicious but with a crisp, thin crust–just the way we like our pizza.

img_3059

The pizzeria was packed day and night, so be sure to reserve.

IMG_8298

Fresh buffala mozzarella, available on a number of Torcicoda’s pies, upped the yum factor.

IMG_8297

Pizza bianca with sausage and broccoli rabe was another hit.

The pizzeria also has a good-sized outdoor dining area which is open rain or shine. It’s fun to watch the parade of tourists passing by on their way to the beautiful Santa Croce across the piazza, as you enjoy your meal.

img_3368We walked past Konnubio www.konnubio.it one afternoon at lunchtime and it looked so inviting we decided to go back for dinner.  It was a good choice. The restaurant is casual and lively but the noise level is not over the top.

img_3357

Diners were just beginning to arrive when we took this photo. Every table was taken in both dining rooms when we left.

The food was beautifully plated and everything we tried was delicious.

img_3366

Seared tuna with fresh asparagus was pleasing to the palate and the eye.

img_3365

Tender lamb with caper berries was outstanding.

img_3373

Konnubio has an extensive wine list and knowledgeable, helpful waitstaff.

You should reserve a table as we saw only one walk in party seated, while others were turned away. See if you can sit in the main dining room at one of the tables with the big comfy chairs instead of the side dining room, if you can.

img_2020

Cantinetta Antinori is owned and operated by the Antinori wine family cantinetta-antinori.com. The restaurant is located in the beautiful Antinori family palazzo right in the center of Florence. We’ve had many delicious lunches here as well as a very good dinner.

img_2003

Enjoy fresh baked bread and Tuscan olive oil from Antinori’s estate while you peruse the extensive wine list.

img_2004

Thinly sliced artichokes with parmesan cheese was a winner.

The food is typical Florentine cuisine and oriented to the seasons.

img_2012

Crispy potatoes topped with filet of white fish, sundried tomatoes, and capers was full of flavor and texture.

img_2013

The hearty stewed beef on a bed of polenta is typical Florentine fare.

They have an extensive wine by the glass (or half glass) program so you can sample many of Antinori’s broad line at reasonable prices. It’s fun to try wines you may not see at home.

img_2002Cantinetta Antinori is very popular with local business people especially at lunch, so book a table.

img_3220

We had a good lunch at Trattoria 13 Gobbi Via Porcellana 9/r www.casatrattoria.com tel 055 284015. We discovered this cute little place tucked away on a small side street on one of our meandering walks through this beautiful city.

img_3207

The dining room is charming and features plenty of vintage posters, advertisements and more to catch your eye.

img_3211

The flavorful vegetable soup was presented in this lovely copper pot.

We plan to give dinner a try there next time.

img_3209

Trattoria Cibreo is another one of our lunchtime favorites. We go to the trattoria at Via di Macci 122R, instead of Signore Picchi’s very popular but pricier restaurant, Ristorante Cibreo. The food is terrific and the menu seasonal. Be aware that they don’t serve pasta and they take no reservations at the trattoria. They open for lunch at 12:45 pm and you need to be there early to get a table. People will be lined up and waiting for the doors to open. The trattoria is closed Sundays and Mondays. There’s a tripe truck parked nearby that the always has a line. Snack while you wait?

img_7869

While not to my taste, this tripe truck does a great business.

Here are a few other Florentine restaurants we’ve enjoyed over the years: Omero is a wonderful classic Florentine restaurant way up above the town with great views. The food is delicious, the service is attentive and this well-known eatery is extremely popular. Be sure to book in for lunch or dinner. ristoranteomero.it

Il Latini is the place for multi- course and enormous meals. There wasn’t a menu when we went for lunch–they just kept bringing food to the table. It was all good and there was plenty, served family style. The key word here is “basta”! Enough! Tell them how many courses you want before they start bringing it—especially if you don’t want the meat courses. illatini.com

Del Fagioli means the beans, literally. This is a good, casual family place close to the Uffizi. The owner seemed to know at least half the patrons when we had dinner there some time ago. Corso Tintori 47r telephone for a reservation—they were turning people away. 055244285

There are so many wonderful restaurants, trattorias and pizzerias in Florence you’re bound to find some to fit your taste and budget.  Please share your favorites with us @traveltawk. Buon appetito!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate, Desserts, Dining, Family Fun, Firenze, Florence, Italy, Markets, Pizzarias, Restaurants, Shopping, Tuscany, Wine bars

Florence’s Fantastic Mercato Centrale

September 22, 2016

Craving a cappucino and a cornetto? Need a bouquet of fresh flowers or picnic provisions? How about fresh pasta to enjoy at home? Or maybe you’re just in the mood for pizza and a beer? Florence’s Central Market or Mercato Centrale Firenze www.mercatocentrale.it  is Florence’s answer to foodie heaven.  Housed in a historic building originally erected in 1847, and open from 10 a.m. to midnight, this is the place to go.

mercato caentrale nov 2015 - 8

Pick up picnic provisions like salami, cheeses, prosciutto and more at Florence’s Mercato Centrale.

mercato caentrale nov 2015 - 6

Fresh pastas and delicious sauces to go with them make a tasty and quick meal that’s easy to prepare in your vacation rental.

The market on the ground floor is fun to explore with every kind of seasonal produce, pastas, sauces, meats, cheeses, and flowers. Anything you could want that’s fresh and in season is right here.

mercato caentrale nov 2015 - 3

The Mercato Centrale has a bounty of seasonal produce, herbs and fresh flowers.

Upstairs at the Mercato Centrale is one of our favorite stops for for lunch, though you can also have breakfast, snacks, sweets, drinks and dinner here.

mercato caentrale nov 2015 - 16

Neapolitan-style pizza is done right at La Pizzeria Sud.

Go get some terrific Neapolitan style pizza at Pizzeria Sud. You can take your slices to one of the communal tables or go upstairs for table service. We opted for the former and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the place.

mercato caentrale nov 2015 - 14

Lunch is ready!

There are lots of tasty options– pasta, panini, cheese and meat platters, fish, pizza, even burgers and fried chicken to choose from. There is also a coffee bar, wine, beer, pastries, gelato and delicious desserts–something to please most any palate.

mercato caentrale nov 2015 - 17

Choose your favorite foods from the array of vendors upstairs at the market and grab a seat at the communal tables. Mangia!

Everything on offer here from the hamburgers made from Chianina beef at La Toraia di Enrico Lagorio, the pasta from Raimondo Mendolia, Maurizio e Poala Rosellini’s fresh fish, the bufala mozzarella, beautiful baked goods, chocolates and gelato are all of the highest quality.

mercato caentrale nov 2015 - 20

A great selection of fresh or aged cheeses to eat now or enjoy later are readily available.

mercato caentrale nov 2015 - 11

If you’re looking to really splash out, try these fragrant truffles.

mercato caentrale nov 2015 - 12

If your tastes run more to fried foods, you’re in luck.

We even sampled the trippa fritta—fried tripe, a Florentine favorite, though not to my taste.

mercato caentrale nov 2015 - 15

Trippa fritta is a Florentine favorite.

After lunch (or dinner), you’ll probably want coffee and something sweet. Please remember that no self-respecting Italian would even consider ordering a cappuccino, latte or similar milky coffee drink after breakfast hours. Stick to the espresso. Ask for a caffe lungo if you miss your American coffee. Desserts are in abundance here and include gelato, pastries, cookies, and cannoli, which are stuffed while you wait—as they should be. Crushed pistachios on the ends are optional.

mercato caentrale nov 2015 - 19

These confections look almost too good to eat. Almost…

Upstairs is also where you’ll find Eataly www.eataly.net/it. which features Italian grocery items, household goods, personal care items and my favorite Florentine soaps from Nesti Dante. You’ll also find a wine shop specializing in Chianti Classico selections, a cooking school, a bancomat (ATM)  and public restrooms which are in short supply in many cities like Florence.

mercato caentrale nov 2015 - 18

If you’re looking for Italian wines, particularly those from the Chianti Classico region, you’ve come to the right place.

mercato caentrale nov 2015 - 13

Students pay rapt attention at the Lorenzo de Medici Cooking School upstairs at the Mercato Centrale.

If you feel the need for yet more shopping, there are also stalls outside the building on the surrounding streets with scarfs, leather items, and souvenirs—all the typical Florentine goods you’d expect to find.

mercato caentrale nov 2015 - 10

Shoppers can find everything from dry pasta to Pinocchio at the market and stalls outside.

Buon appetito and happy shopping!

Art, Family Fun, Florence, History, Italy, Museums

Scarpe Diem: Florence’s Salvatore Ferragamo Museum

June 24, 2016

IMG_2791Descend the staircase in the stunning Palazzo Spini Feroni, which houses the flagship Ferragamo store and serves as company headquarters, and you’ll be greeted by walls of Salvatore Ferragamo’s strikingly beautiful shoes, artfully displayed, of course. Though they play a major role in the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, a marvelous small museum on Florence’s posh Via Tornabuono, there’s much more to see than fabulous footwear.

IMG_2794

Ferragamo’s shoes may themselves be considered works of art.

The Museum tells the story of the man, who grew up outside of Naples, the eleventh of 14 children and became “shoemaker to the stars”; the company, which became synonymous with beautiful and comfortable shoes that were widely imitated; and the city of Florence itself.

IMG_2816

Visitors can learn about Florence’s fascinating history at the museum.

Stunning masterworks of 17th and 18th century Florentine art, a look at the palazzo’s chapel with frescoes by Bernardino Poccetti, artful fashion, and company’s history are all part of the museum experience www.ferragamo.com/museo.

IMG_2822

There is much more to see than shoes at the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo.

IMG_2800In addition to the innovatively designed shoes for which the company is known, the signed lasts created for Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Sophia Loren and so many other movie stars and well-known names, past and present, are on view along with Ferragamo’s leather working tools.

IMG_2830

Wooden lasts created for movie stars, royalty and other recognizable names hang on the museum’s walls.

The company’s history is cleverly presented in photographs displayed on racks like tourist post cards.

IMG_2803

These “picture postcards” give visitors a glimpse of the company’s past.

IMG_2802

Video and still photos tell the story of Salvatore Ferragamo and the company he created.

Beautiful sculpture, noteworthy paintings, historic books, documents, and more from the family’s extensive collection compete for visitors’ attention. Classical music such as Corelli’s Le Sonata per Violino, Violone e Cimbalo plays in various gallery spaces, adding to the ambiance.IMG_2824

IMG_2819

IMG_2807Along with the permanent collection, the museum hosts rotating exhibitions. The current show, Across Art and Fashion poses the question, “Is fashion art?” and examines the relationship between the two.

IMG_7570The famous building, constructed in 1289, is itself part of the museum. Among other things, the Palazzo Spini Feroni was once home to the City Council when Florence was the capital of Italy. Salvatore Ferragamo purchased the Palazzo in 1938, after returning from America, and it has served as Ferragamo’s headquarters since that time.

IMG_2792

During it’s long and colorful history, the Palazzo Spini Feroni was home to Florence’s City Council, a hotel and art galleries before becoming Ferragamo’s headquarters.

IMG_2836

Salvatore Ferragamo’s widow, Wanda, was instrumental in creating the museum.

Through the efforts of Ferragamo’s widow and family members, Museo Salvatore Ferragamo was founded in 1995 after an exhibition at Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi went on tour, hosted by New York’s Guggenheim Museum, the County Museum of Los Angeles, London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, and Sogetsu Kai Foundation in Tokyo among others. The traveling exhibition became the basis of the permanent collection at the museum.

IMG_2833

Phone or email for private guided tours.

Private guided tours can be arranged on the first Saturday of each moth at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. by emailing museoferragamo@ferragamo.com or by calling +39 055 3562466. The museum also hosts special events. Check the website www.ferragamo.com/museo for details.