Florence for Beginners: Part III (Music, Books & Food)

How to eat, drink and be merry in Florence

So you’ve been to all of the museums and parks and now you’re thinking: where can I get something to eat around here?  Well, you’ve come to the right country. There are many culinary pleasures here.

Very often in Italy, I find that the food gets better the further you get from the city center.  The center of Florence is a touristy area and restaurants cater to an international clientele.  You will find that the food is less authentically Italian and also far more expensive than it should be. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get good food in the center of town.  Here are a few of my favorites:

FOOD

Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco Borgo Sant’Iacopo 43r, Florence

Good traditional Florentine cuisine.

Trattoria Mamma Gina Borgo San Iacopo, 37, Florence
I like the lasagne and the desserts.

Moyo Via de Benci 23/R
If you’re looking for a big fresh salad, this is your place.

Taverna Divina Comedia Via Cimatori 7r
This café is based on the works of Dante. Very funny. I prefer the Purgatory Pizza.

ICE CREAM

You shouldn’t have trouble finding wonderful gelato in Florence. It’s everywhere. But if you’re in search of the very best ice cream, try:

Vivoli Piero Il Gelato Via Isola Delle Stinche, 7/R – near Santa Croce
–quite possibly the best gelato in Florence. Certainly the most interesting flavors. But always crowded!

runners up:

Gelateria Carabe’ Antonio Via Ricasoli, 60 – near the Duomo

La Bottega Del Gelato  Via Por S. Maria, 33/R. – near the Ponte Vecchio

So now you’ve had lunch but you also need something to read? Never fear:

BOOKS
I include bookshops for two reasons: 1) bookshops are cool and 2) bookshops have public restrooms.

Paperback Exchange (near the Duomo) – Via delle Oche, 4R

English books and good service

Feltrinelli International
Via Cavour 12-20/r (near San Marco)

Libreria Edison
Piazza della Repubblica 5

So you’ve picked up an Italian phrase book and some British paperback novel, and now you’re looking for some ear candy.  I can help:

MUSIC

Florence is the birthplace of opera.  It was a group of poets, musicians and thinkers called the Camerata who invented the art form in the late 1500s. And 400 years later, it’s still a great place to see a show!

This site gives you a bit of the history of the different theaters, as well as the famous opera festival, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.

When I lived in Florence, I sang with Concerto Classico.  The company performs at St. Mark’s Anglican Church (Via Maggio 18), just steps away from the Ponte alle Grazie. Easy to overlook from the outside, the building houses an ornate and hauntingly beautiful chapel. The church is part of an old Medici Palace that was once owned by Machiavelli and later renovated in the neo-renaissance style. Concerto Classico offers classical concerts and full-length operas. You can get up-to-the minute information here.

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