Florence, Italy: Rustic Beauty and Unmatched Cuisine

florence title

Florence; the mear mention of the city brings visions of Renaissance art and statues.  David, Michaelangelo’s masterpiece is center stage.  You may even envision walking across Ponte Vecchio and browsing the vast array of gold adornments in the high-end jewelry shops.   One should not miss however the rustic beauty around every corner.  Additionally, Florence has unmatched cuisine of any place I have visited.  So much so, I even took an Italian food cooking class where I learned to make a four-course authentic Italian meal.

In this article, I’m going to bring you my experience of Florence through food, architecture, and of course, art.

From my very first meal at Mangiafoco Osteria Tartuferia, Florence never let my taste buds down.  Here, I delighted in a decadent salami and cheese filled tortellini plate and spaghetti with dried tomatoes and zucchini flowers.  The restaurant is “Tuscan” in every visual way with bottles of local wine adorning the walls, legs of pork hanging from the ceiling. Paired with one of my favorites, a Pino Nero.  They are notorious for their truffle meals and this is where you want to be if you’re craving truffles.

Mangiafoco Osteria Tartuferia
Mangiafoco Osteria Tartufe
Mangiafoco Osteria Tartuferia
OMangiafoco Osteria Tartufe
Mangiafoco Osteria Tartuferia
Salami and Cheese Tortellini – Mangiafoco Osteria Tartuferia
Spaghetti with dried tomatoes and zucchini flowers - Mangiafoco Osteria Tartuferia
Spaghetti with dried tomatoes and zucchini flowers – Mangiafoco Osteria Tartuferia

The next restaurant I want to recommend is La Prosciutteria.  Here you will find all kinds of prosciutto. You can get sandwiches to go for about 5€ or you can do what I did- order a tray of prosciutto and cheeses for 10€ each person.  It’s a lot of food.  But even for two people dining, the small tray for 20€ and 2 glasses of wine for 6.50€ each – a grand total of 33€.  This is carnivorous decadence to be sure.  The staff was very friendly and service swift.


La Prosciutteria 20€ Tray and
La Prosciutteria
2 glasses of wine for 6.50€ each

Now, I can’t post every picture of every meal I had in Florence.  But the food is decadent and rich.  As a result, I never had a bad meal.  But if you just want to have a glass of wine or prosecco and relax, Florence has plenty of that too. 

You can relax at the Golden View Open BarAlthough you will pay a bit extra to sit in the glass-enclosed terrace overlooking Ponte Vecchio.  Immerse yourself as I did with a prosecco tasting flight where you get to try three types of prosecco.  While that was nice, I needed more so I ordered another glass of the cold and crisp drink to help crush the sweltering heat outside.  It is quaint, service is good, and the prosecco is abundant. 

Golden View Open
Golden View Open
Prosecco Flight Tasting

The Galleries

Of course, also abundant is the world-changing Renaissance art including Michelangelo.  I’ll reiterate what you will read in every travel guide – if you are going to the Gallerie Degli Uffizi or the Accademia Gallery, you must make a reservation and preferably at a time before 10 a.m.  Otherwise, you will be standing in a line snaking for a block or two around the buildings waiting for hours to get in. 

David

Uffizi, looking back, I could probably have skipped. Honestly, there’s only so many “Virgin Mary with baby” one can look at. Accademia however, delivered it all.  I’ve dreamed of seeing the Statue of David.  It is Michelangelo’s masterpiece.  However, the gallery also has on display various “unfinished” pieces of his work.  I found these even more interesting as they appear to be men in various stages of climbing out of stone.  For whatever reason Michelangelo decided to stop – they were finished in his eyes.  I agree; they emote feeling, pain, anguish, and birth. 

David
David
The Birth of Venus
The Birth of Venus at Uffizi

While I know the cubist Ponte Vecchio is a “selfie-spot” and on many’s must-see lists, in reality, it isn’t much.  Historic, yes, but visually it is “less than” the rest of Florence.  The best I can say is it gives one easy access walk across the river to experience the less-crowded area and explore the rustic alleyways and side streets. 

Ponte Vecchio
Inside Ponte Vecchio

If you long for that panoramic overlook of the city, you want to head up a gazillion steps to reach Piazzale Michelangelo.  Ok, yes I had to climb what felt like endless steps to each this park and yes it was sweltering heat, and throngs of other visitors joining in our Renaissance climb – it was worth it.  I do not say that lightly.  Half-way up, there is a garden terrace overlooking the city.  It is a great place to rest if need be.  Once you arrive at the top and enter the piazza, you are surrounded by terracotta roof-tops and of course the Dome.  I would consider Piazzale Michelangelo a “must do”. 

Piazzale Michelange

Tuscan Cuisine

If you are looking for something different to do, check out a cooking class as I did.  Our group served up a four-course meal, including making pasta from scratch.  The evening ended with the group of us enjoying the meal we just created family style.  Sitting around the table, each of us discussing our home towns, where we were traveling from or going to next, and the treasures we’ve experienced along the way. This was a fun and delicious ending to my Florence experience.  

In Tavola
In Tavola Cooking class
In Tavola
In Tavola – Making fresh pasta
In Tavola
In Tavola – Chicken…..something something

There are other things you can do as well if you do not want to do a cooking class.  You can go to a perfume class and learn to make your own perfume.  Shop at the many leather shops.  Florence is divine and as long as you can deal with a town overrun with other tourists, a wonderful experience.  Once the cruise-ship tour groups retreat after 4 p.m. you are able to absorb and enjoy the rustic history around you.  Strolling through a piazza where an orchestra serenades the lovers and the dreamers soaking up the the rich ambiance. 

Piazza della Signoria

In conclusion, Florence is romantic in every way.  David is worth seeing. But, more so, one must experience the cuisine and wine as well as the historic sites.  Without the cuisine, Florence would be an ice cream cone without the ice cream. 

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Things to do:

As always, thanks for tripping with me.