florence 1

The flight to Florence connects through Zürich and is an easy one (plus Zurich airport has the best edamame at their asian bistro/bar for a snack between planes), the harder part is monitoring the trends in flight costs to get there, for some reason the cost fluctuates from as little as 100 euro one day, to over 400 euro another. Of course, I got the better price to fly, took Monday off (a rare thing for me to do but Florence is worth it) and stayed a long weekend using Italy as the meeting point to reunite with one of my favorite fabulous girlfriends. Firenze is where we both first met and lived together originally, so it was really great to visit all our old spots and see how they have changed, or not.

We stayed at Portrait, a Lugano Collection Hotel with an amazing room and terrace overlooking the Ponte Vecchio. Incredible.

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View of Ponte Vecchio from our hotel terrace.

The Food: 

Having our hotel make the reservations and suggestions nightly, we visited more modern spots in Florence this trip vs. traditional Italian. The highlights:

Winner: La Ménagére (Via de’Ginori, 8) Must go back. It was a reminder of New York’s Chelsea Market modern meets old  restaurant/florist shop, combined with the best local ingredients and fusion Italian menu. In the basement was also a place for live music and jam sessions from local bands. A great spot for a cocktail after dinner that we unfortunately ran out of time to return to that weekend. There was however, a heavenly piano player playing for us live throughout our dinner with my favorite Sinatra kind of music.

Locale (Via delle Seggiole 12): Very pricey, small plates, ordered and shared three things and were surprisingly full after, mostly I think because the flavor was so strong in each dish. For drinks, the cocktail menu was innovative and everything fresh and hand done, but at 20 euro per drink – it better be.  I am sure our total bill was more than what we paid for all other dining the rest of the trip combined.

IMG_2646Breakfast: Ditta Artigianale (Via dei Neri, 32/R)– A-maz-ing. Must go back for literally everything, cornetti con marmellata, o nutella, cappuccino, bellini con succo di pesce, uova con spinaci- all delish. The coffee is also roasted fair trade etc. and available for purchase too.

For aperitivo: Sesto rooftop bar overlooking the city at the top of the Westin Excelsior Hotel – say no more, just look at the view. The drink prices were also reasonable at 6-8 euros per.

IMG_2553Gelato: Gelateria La Carraia – a trip back to Florence is not complete without going at least three times to the best gelato place on earth, on the same street where we used to live – Via de Serragli.

Pizza: Il Gusto Pizza (Via Maggio, 46) – It was good, but not the best despite the rave reviews.

The Markets:

My favorite Piazza Santo Spirito Sunday market was going on and has really gotten bigger on the food front since we lived there with everything from fresh pressed olive oil, jams, wine, honey, cheese and bread. There weren’t as many vintage sellers as there used to be but it’s still the best.

The leather market in San Lorenzo is still there, still the same and still has the best prices for leather goods and a few knock offs.

The  Mercato Centrale has really changed, Eataly has taken over and completely renovated the way of the old market with local vendors selling meat and cheese and produce used to be. While it’s of course awesome, and I’ll go back for sure, the old market authenticity of vendors in a warehouse is gone. There is even an escalator.

From shopping for handbags, drinking Aperol spritz and wine until sunrise (literally), to wandering the streets and visiting to the doorway we used to live, time really flies, but we will always feel love for Florence. Until next time. Arrivederci, tornero presto!

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