Forget about travel guides or intensive pre-holiday research. Not only is it expensive or time-consuming, it will make you see the same old tourist hotspots, where you might hear more foreign languages than actual Italian. Of course you should see some well-known Italy as well (if it is that famous it has to mean something, right?) but the best way to discover a city is to explore it with someone who lives there. For this reason, when my friend asked me to visit for her birthday last June, it looked like a dream come true. For most of the day we rumbled around, meeting friends, sitting down in a park laughing and catching up, or doing some of those touristy things you just cannot avoid in a city like Florence, but as soon as meal time came, she knew where to go, and where to avoid.
After a night out at Central Park (Via Fosso Macinante, 2), one of Florence’s best nightclubs featuring amazing music, beautiful dance floors and is completely open-air during the summer, the best place to have breakfast is The Diner (Via dell’Acqua, 2). Perfect to start the day with delicious pancakes; Americans living in Florence hang out there to get a feeling of home.
…perfect for a quick but tasty salad…
Colle Bereto (Piazza Strozzi, 5) with its beautifully covered terrace and comfortable sofas is ideal for lunch. Not only does it serve Tuscan dishes, but it’s also perfect for a quick but tasty salad. In the early evening a buffet is set for the aperitivo phenomenon: by consuming a glass of wine, a cocktail or even only a beer, you can eat everything you want from the buffet.
If you want to move somewhere else to drink a last glass of wine before going to bed or a cocktail before going out, Sei Divino (Borgo Ognissanti, 42) is just perfect: playing with the name (in Italian the name literally means ‘you are divine’, but ‘sei di vino’ also means ‘you’re made of wine’) it is a fairly small bar with a great atmosphere. Their red wines from all over Italy are simply mouth-watering, and the staff are lovely.
…I can guarantee you that you will go back…
The last place not to miss, even if you are in Florence only for a day, is the Gelateria Grom (Via dell’Oche, 24): one of the best (if not the best!) ice-cream shops in the city, its motto is ‘ice-cream as it once was’. You will probably have to queue for a little bit, but I can assure you it is more than worth it. Its best flavours are cioccolato fondente (dark chocolate), torroncino (nougat) and stracciatella, but if you cannot decide what to have, try with the flavour of the month: I can guarantee you that you will go back for more.
Images courtesy of Gelateria Grom and Colle Bereto