Florence was my home many moons ago, but it will always seem like a second home. Although I go back frequently, I just revisited the city with the three friends I shared an apartment with then. We ate at our favorite restaurants, went to our favorite churches and museums but, of course, left time for something new – a little Firenze shopping. We were treated to a tour of the Palazzo Corsini by the Contessa herself which was a real treat.
Piazza Antinori, 4/r. +39-055-213668
I am a sucker for hand embroidered linens. It was so nice to fall into one of the original stores of Via Tournabouni. (Still mourning the loss of Giacosa – the most beautiful coffee bar in Florence – which was bought by Roberto Cavalli and is now gone forever.) This huge shop, whose entrance is tucked into the Piazza Antinori, is filled with gorgeous nightgowns, robes, sheets, towels, linens of all kinds. I bought myself four of the sweetest Christmas themed embroidered hand towels. Have lunch in Cantinetta Antinori after or pop across the street to have the greatest bargain in Florence at Procacci: their white truffle sandwich is still only €1.80.l
APRIOSO & CO
Via Della Spada 38, +39-055-2654077
After a drunken, truffle filled lunch at Cammillo – but more about that later. We wondered down the street toward Santo Spirito (which was closed until 4:00pm) and found this place. It was like being in Venice. Their specialty is beaded jewelry and bags. Loved the spider earrings. Really beautiful things but you pay the price.
Via dei Rondinelli, 22/R. +39-3481932820
I know this is an international brand but I think their products and colors are really fresh. I always get something. This time it was the notepads.
Via M. Palmieri 27/R, +39-055 242038
Not such a great picture, sorry, but really adorable souvenir jewelry. This is an age-old tradition harking back to the Grand Tour – when you had to return with a souvenir of the place. Instead of dorky teaspoons and thimbles, get one of these brooches. There were red, yellow, blue and green Santa Croces, Brunelleschi’s Domes and even Ponte Vecchio earrings.
Borgo S. Jacopo 57r, +39-055-212427
The first thing to do when planning a trip to Florence is make sure that you are not there only on Tuesday and Wednesday nights because those are the days that Cammillo is closed. There really is no other perfect Tuscan restaurant. I have been going back continuously since 1986 and she since 1953. This time we were there during white truffle season…needless to say we engorged ourselves: steak tartar with truffles, fresh tagliolini with truffles, veal with truffles (I don’t eat veal but the sauce was divine) and as we were leaving the owner stopped us to try Vivoli ice cream with truffles on it. What a gift and what a restaurant!
Via del Georgofili 3r/7r, +39-055-219208
Had a half hour to grab a sandwich before we went through the Corrodorio Vasariana (google it). Ran in here and realized it was something special as soon as we saw the sandwich board. I chose a SOLITO – proscuitto crudo, tapenade, pecorino, peppers…plus a glass of wine for less than €10.
Via Palazzuolo 124r, Phone: +39 055 292287
The best Spaghetti alla Carrettiera in Florence. A sweet homey place with delicious food and no tourists. Don’t be put off by what appears to be a dodgy neighborhood. We were fine and ate well.
Piazza della Signoria 10, +39-055-75923300
The Gucci Garden is in every magazine as the new hot thing to see in Florence…so I am not telling you something you don’t already know. It looks great – which is not surprising – but there is one thing that can’t be missed. Go downstairs to the bar and order a coffee – even if you don’t take sugar, ask them for some. They are individually packed brown or white sugar stamped into the Gucci Logo – don’t want to put a photo here as it looks better in real life and some things you have to see for yourself. You can buy boxes of it for €18…I did!
BEST MEDICI FUNDED PROJECT
San Lorenzo Church
Even though there are prettier, grander, even finished churches, I have a special place in my heart for the Church of San Lorenzo. Not only did Brunelleschi outdo himself here but the outbuildings are pretty damn good too. The Laurentian Library and the Medici Chapel, architect and sculptor Michelangelo, need I say more. There is also the secret room where Michelangelo had to hide to escape the Pope who was unhappy with him. He drew on the walls while down there and they still survive. It is a really special treat, so don’t miss it.
Staying in Firenze
GALLERY HOTEL ART
Vicolo dell’Oro, 5, Tel. + 39 055 27263
Steps away from the Ponte Vecchio, this hotel has the best address in Florence. Not only is it convenient but it is exactly what you need in a Design Hotel. Comfy beds, quiet rooms, great bathrooms as well as a great bar..all at a great price. This is my home in Florence.