Florence: where to stay, shop, eat and relax
Editor's pick: best hotels, local restaurants, shopping attractions and activities to attend in Florence.
BEST WESTERN Hotel Palazzo Ognissanti
A moderately priced, clean and simple 4-star hotel conveniently located near the main train station and within 10 minutes’ walk to the Uffizi, Ponte Vecchio and Duomo. Staff are friendly and helpful, and the breakfast good. Ask for a room that doesn’t face onto the street or you’ll hear Vespas zoom past all night.
A clean, comfortable, 3-star hotel just across the river, about a 15-minute walk from the centre (a bus stops right in front of the hotel to take you into town). Friendly, helpful staff will help you make reservations and bookings during your stay in Florence.
The Westin Excelsior
Named the best hotel in Florence for many years, the Westin is the ultimate destination for those wanting to experience Florence’s elegant, old-world grandeur. It’s located on the river Arno, and convenient for getting to all of the city’s historic hot spots.
Dishes have been modernised, yet stay true to traditional Tuscan flavours. Start with goat’s cheese with pepper jelly on Tuscan bread, stuffed zucchini, or raw vegetables with anchovy garlic dip. For mains, try the ravioli with duck sauce, or pumpkin and pesto pasta. For dessert, walk across the street to Grom, the city’s best ice cream parlour.
The best place in Florence to satisfy a pizza craving – and locals agree. Oven-baked with a range of delicious toppings, from traditional margherita to more special aubergine and artichoke, it is worth returning to try them all. Expect long queues at dinner time.
Trattoria da Burde
A 10-minute taxi ride outside of Florence’s historical centre, this family-owned trattoria is an absolute must to experience authentic, home-cooked Tuscan cuisine, such as juicy bistecca alla Fiorentina, flame-grilled to perfection. In October, order the schiacciata con l’uva, a slowcooked grape pie. The exclusively Tuscan wine list has been crafted by owner, sommelier champion and blogger Andrea Gori. Lunch only.
Elegant and romantic, this bar serves solely Frescobaldi wines. Almost all are available by the glass and there are plenty to try. Taste the Remole, Mormoreto and Castelgiocondo Riserva. Frescobaldi has recently opened a wine bar and restaurant in luxury department store Harrods, in London.
Small and charming with a serious and large list that covers all Italy’s wine regions and famous wine producers at a fair price. Also stocks a library of vintages. Heaven for anyone looking to learn about classic Italian wines.
Volpi et l’Uva
Hidden in a small square near the Ponte Vecchio, this bar is named after one of Aesop’s fables, The Fox and the Grapes. It specialises in top-quality wines from smaller producers across Italy, as well as new grape varieties and regions. Come here to taste local wines such as Cortona and Montecucco.
Ask any serious local wine lover the best place for an extensive range and the most reasonable price and they will direct you to Bonatti. It’s a 20-minute walk outside the historical centre, but is worth the trek. There are wines from every region in Italy, with a bias toward smaller, high-quality estates.
La Sorgente delle Delizie
This tiny boutique near the Duomo is the only central wine shop that won’t overcharge you. You can find the classics here but also gems from smaller regions, too. Owner Leonardo Lapomarda ships the wines anywhere in the world, so you can save space in your suitcase for pasta and shoes.
30, Via Cavour Camillo Benso.
Mercato San Lorenzo
The city’s most important market, located by Basilica San Lorenzo. You can find cheese, meats, fish, fresh pasta, canned and bottled delicacies and, of course, Tuscan wines. Open Monday to Saturday, 7am-2pm.
Piazza di San Lorenzo.
Translated by Sylvia Wu / 吴嘉溦
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