TG Tips- Florence

Florence is just incredible, here some tips which might help…

Eat and Visit.

Gucci Museo and Cafe, Piazza della Signoria, 10. Right, this place more than any other has just about become my home from home on tours. The Gucci Museo opened in 2011 I believe and part of it was the creation of an amazing Cafe on the ground floor. Normally I avoid main squares like the proverbial plague, but in this case, I make an exception. The staff are super friendly, the ambience as you would imagine, very stylish, free wifi (hence this place has become my new Florence ‘office’ whilst on tour), surrounded by books – free to browse – you can sit for hours nursing a coffee or even have a delicious – and not that expensive, lunch. They know their wine too. Wonderful, wonderful addition to the city. Gucci Museo and Cafe.

Eat.

Finisterrae – Piazza Santa Croce, 12. Another big square and yet I am recommending a place again. Well, there are many many great restaurants in Florence, and I guess Finisterrae is not the best of them. What it is however, is truly good food (both pizza and pasta) right where most city tours finish, yet in a huge restaurant decorated in different Mediterranean ambiances at very very honest prices- no cover charge for example. Colin, who runs it, recently invested a great deal of money in the one thing famous Santa Croce Square was missing; a good gelateria. It’s right next door and the gelato and pastries are fabulous. I have been recommending this place to clients for years who always come away happy. Finisterrae Pizza and Pasta (and now, Gelato)

Trattoria La Gratella – Via Guelfa 81/R. Maybe my favourite place so far in Florence. A ‘Gratella’ as far as I can understand, is the word for grill and this is what you really should order here. You’ll be brought a mountain of grilled meats on a grill, kept hot with charcoal below and encouraged to wash it down with great Tuscan reds.

A Mountain of Meat Awaits at The Trattoria La Gratella

The food, all of it, is wonderful, the prices honest and Daniela the owner who is there every single lunch and dinner, is amazingly friendly and someone truly worth supporting. Trattoria La Gratella

Mangia Foco – Borgo S S Apostoli 26r. I found this place was when I had been given the mission to discover a place for some clients where ‘no one would ever find them’ during their aperitivo. It worked. Down two staircases, deep below cell phone reception and into a haven of good wine, cheese and cold cuts. Techincally a wine bar and cafe, Mangia Foco (the fire eater) is a great, central place, especially for a light lunch. Mangiafoco

Fashion – Clothes.

Giofre’ (tailor and fashion designer), Via Sant’ Agostino, 30/32. Florence has always been where I buy most of my clothes. Now I seek out GianFranco (hence Giofre’) on the South Bank of the Arno. Amidst sewing machines he makes all his own clothes which he then sells on (at much higher prices than in his shop) to fashion stores as far away as America. The clothes is NOT expensive, beautiful, weird and wonderful cuts, crafted with passion and adjusted to fit on the spot. He is wonderfully nice and it’s refreshing in a H&M world that there is still room for the craft of tailoring. Male and female. His website is www.giofrefashion.com

Tour Guide Secrets

Beat The Lines – The Uffizi Galleries and Accademia too. If you don’t have a booking (on-line or otherwise) to visit the famous galleries the queues to get in or even to get a booking for that day can be very long (up to 2 hours). Few people realise that just a couple of blocks away at the Orsanmichele Church the doorway (see picture below) doubles up as a ticket booth.

The ticket booth at Orsanmichele

It is often possible to go here where there is never a queue and buy tickets for the Uffizi Galeries at whichever reservation slots they have available on the same day. You simply pay a small reservation fee on top of the ticket price- well worth it to avoid 2 hours of queuing (I know it is just about our National Sport in England, but even so).

I believe this trick works also for Accademia tickets/reservations (i.e to see David). I’ll check on my next visit. Watch this space… It does! (Sept 2012) Also, VISIT on a Monday (the only day of the week it is open) see thw amazing three floors of the Orsanmichele Church itself. Well worth it.


4 Responses to “TG Tips- Florence”

  1. I agree with Thomas. My husband and I recently completed a Tuscan wine tour with Lisa as our guide. It was a wonderful day. She managed all the details including lunch in a quaint village, a private tour with the winemaker of the most amazing winery, with a short stop at a nearby abbey and the most pleasant and informative conversation. Tuscany is a wonderful place to visit on your own but having a professional like Lisa at your side makes it truly enchanting.

  2. Thanks for TG Tips- Florence

  3. I totally agree that Lisa is an incredible guide. I have toured all over the world and Lisa is one of the best guides I have encountered. Her knowledge, how to make things really interesting, her sense of humour and passion for history and people are outstanding. I will look her up Jon my next visit to Tuscany!

  4. Hi David and Terry, glad you agree with my thoughts about Lisa. I am fortunate enough to have a tour booked with her to the Vasari corridor coming up shortly. I can’t wait to hear her explanations once more. Look out for the blog post on that one. Thanks for the comments and happy travelling…

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