While living in Italy, we often went to Florence to take in some serious culture, good shopping and great food and wine. Here are some of our recommendations:

What to Drink

After a long day of sightseeing and shopping, Florence offers the perfect backdrop for a glass or two of Tuscan wine from nearby vineyards. Here are some of our suggestions on what to look for (from our wine guide for the iPhone):

Tuscany’s wine options are vast and quality is high, although, when compared to other regions in Italy, the price-to-quality ratio is not quite as compelling. That said, as a general rule, you should stick to red wine options in Tuscany, where sangiovese-based wines are the stars; focus on the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Chianti Classico, and Brunello di Montalcino DOCGs as signs of quality. For wines based on international grape varieties (cabernet sauvignon, merlot, etc.), the Maremma area, located in a relatively undeveloped portion of Tuscany along the Ionian (west) coast, offers some great wines at attractive prices.

Where to Eat

The following three restaurants consistently delivered world-class food and were the favorites that we returned to again and again.

Cavolo Nero

Cavolo Nero is our go-to restaurant in Florence. Located off-the-beaten-path (in the oltr’arno), this charming and elegant restaurant serves excellent, fresh food that changes with each season. Cavolo Nero’s super-friendly staff is happy to help you navigate the menu and its wine list. Another plus? The wine and food are very reasonably priced.

Cavolo Nero. Via dell’Ardiglione, 22; S.Frediano; Tel: 055/294 744; closed Sundays.

Where to Shop

Florence is known for its shopping. Here are two of our favorite stores:

  • Yesterday’s Fausto Santini Outlet (Via Calzaiuoli, 95R; tel 055/239 8536). High-fashion shoe maker, with gorgeously unique shoes for men and women at prices that are 1/3 of those in the Milan boutique.
  • Paolo Carandini (Via de’ Macci, 73R; tel 055/245 397). Paolo Carandini sells his beautiful, handmade leather goods (journals, bags, etc.) out of a tiny workshop in the city center.

Where to Go

Cultural Walking Tour: Florence Frescoes

ag-cover_italy_florence_freThe presence of large number of Last Supper frescoes (called cenocoli in Italian) in Florence’s historical city center allows visitors to view several sites over a few hours or a few days, giving them a brief but complete lesson in comparative art history. In this travel guide, we highlight the best of the Last Supper frescoes of Florence (spanning 1335-1645) and look at how they relate to Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic depiction in Milan (1496-98). Learn more about Last Supper frescoes in Florence…

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