FOCUS Heres a little more information on towns of importance outside of whatever we are planning in Wine in 2019. We have sourced several incredible food and culinary experiences, in Florence and Montepulciano and Montalcino. Also a few restaurants in Florence that we keep happily going back to. It is hard to eat badly in Italy its true but Tuscany being so sort after touristically it is better to follow our lead, not that we can control every meal or chef or waiter for the matter.
Table of contents
- Florence, Tuscany
- Siena, Tuscany
- Pisa, Lucca & San Gimignano, Tuscany
- Arezzo & Cortona, Tuscany
- The Weather of Tuscany
- Video: Market, Wine & Cooking Experience in Florence (2016)
- Florence Restaurants
Florence is the capital of both the region of Tuscany and the province of Florence. It is one of the most famous cultural cities of Europe because it is the cradle of the Renaissance.
The Duomo (cathedral) of Florence is the third largest Christian church, which the Florentines started building in the 1200s. At that time the dome was the largest ever built. In front of the Duomo you can find the Battistero di San Giovanni (baptistery) where all Florentines were baptized until modern times.
Other important and popular sights are:
– Galleria degli Uffizi, one of the most important art galleries in the world. It has a collection of paintings from mainly Italian painters of the Late Medieval Period and from the Renaissance till the Baroque.
– Museo del Bargello, located in the Palazzo del Bargello. The emphasis of the collection is on sculptures.
– Galleria dell’Accademia. This museum is famous because of the sculptures of Michelangelo. The famous sculpture of David can be found in a special room (Tribune) in this museum.
– Basilica di Santa Maria Novella. Here you can find the Holy Trinity, a fresco by the painter Masaccio.
– Basilica di Santa Croce, one of the most important churches of Florence and is considered to be one of the most beautiful Gothic basilicas of Italy. It is also the biggest Franciscan church of the world.
Siena is the capital of the province Siena and is located on top of a hill. Its historic centre has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The Cattedrale di Santa Maria is the cathedral of Siena. It has the shape of a Latin cross and was designed and completed between 1214 and 1263. The whole floor of the cathedral is covered by a marble mosaic floor, however only for a period of six to ten weeks it can be seen completely. Apart from those few weeks the floor is covered and only a few parts can be seen.
Piazza del Campo is a shell-shaped square in the historic centre of Siena. It is seen as one of the greatest medieval squares of Europe. On the Piazza del Campo you can find the Palazzo Pubblico with its tower called Torre del Mangia, which gives you a good view over Siena. The Palazzo Pubblico was built in 1297-1310. It is the city hall of Siena and is also a museum (Museo Civico).
In Siena there is a special event called the Palio delle Contrade. With this event all 17 city neighbourhoods have one participant who tries to be the fastest to go around the Piazza del Campo three times on horseback. This race is held twice per year. On the 2nd of July there is the Palio di Provenzano which is considered to be for the inhabitants of Siena and on the 16th of August there is the Palio dell’Assunta for the tourists.
Pisa, Lucca & San Gimignano, Tuscany
Pisa is the capital city of the province of Pisa and it is best known for its leaning tower. The leaning tower of Pisa is located on the Piazza dei Miracoli which is to the north of the old town centre. The tower is 55,85 meter tall and has a slope of around 10%. Apart from the leaning tower, Piazza dei Miracoli also has other works of art and architecture. The Duomo (cathedral), the Baptistry and the Campo Santo (monumental cemetery) are all worth a look. In 1987 the whole square with all its buildings were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Due to its fame to not expect to be alone.
Lucca is located about 25 kilometres north-east of Pisa and around 80 kilometres west of Florence. In Lucca the city walls are still standing and now serve as a delightful pedestrian promenade around the old town. The gardens of Lucca are simply gorgeous and another popular sight in Lucca is the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro. We think Lucca is one of Tuscanys unmissable towns.
SAN GIMIGNANO /VOLTERRA
San Gimignano is a small picture perfect town in the province of Siena and is famous because of its Medieval architecture. In San Gimignano you will find 14 towers which were built in between the 12th and 14th century by rich families. Now incredibly crowded, come very early or late in the day.
Volterra is a more authentic and relaxed visit with incredible views and surroundings. This city state the Etruscan knew and they were around from 750 BC. surrounded by the mysterious landscapes of Val di Cecina.
Arezzo & Cortona, Tuscany
Arezzo is located about 80 kilometres south-east from Florence and is the capital of the province of Arezzo. The main sight in Arezzo is the Chiesa San Francesco. In this church you can find one of the biggest fresco cycles of Italy. The Piazza Grande is the main square of Arezzo. Here you can find the Palace of the Lay Fraternity (Fraternita dei Laici), the Vasari Loggia, the Episcopal Palace, the Palazzo Cofani-Brizzolari and the remains of the Palazzo del Popolo and the Communal Palace.
Cortona is located in the province of Arezzo. This city is located on one of the earliest inhabited hills of the province. It can be compared with cities like Assisi and Volterra.
The Weather of Tuscany
The climate in Tuscany is generally very mild with differences depending on the geography of each area. The coast and valleys tend to have hotter summers than the hills or mountains. April and May, as well as October and November, have sunny days but the chances of rain are higher. Winter offers many sunny, mild days but nights are cold, particularly in hill areas. The warmest months are generally July and August, while June and September offer both nice and warm weather in general without it being too hot. Of course, there are always exceptions or dry spells that cause a few days to get really warm.
WHEN TO GO
It is important to remember that the main tourism season stretches from mid-April to the end of September with July and August being peak months. The best time to visit Tuscany is in the quieter part of the season, from April to June and from September to October, when prices are lower and there are “fewer” tourists. Many have also discovered the advantages of visiting during the “low season” (winter and early spring) as rates are lower and the reduced number of tourists is visible. The periods around Easter and Christmas are also peak tourism dates as many Italians also join in to go on vacation.
Video: Market, Wine & Cooking Experience in Florence (2016)
This is a short, lighthearted video we made so clients could get an idea of what a day out with us making a cooking experience in Florence can look like. This casual and personal experience brings you first at the local fruit and vegetable market in Florence to buy fresh products for the perfect lunch you will help prepare in a beautiful villa with breath taking views over Florence and with a delightful and hugely talented Italian chef Alessandro. Enjoy the Italian life to the fullest with culinary fresh food and delicious wines. We have various gastronomic immersions in countryside settings too, but we these are casual fun immersions. Chefs hats not required.
Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina. Our choice for wine and food in Florence. This really tiny but perfectly formed Enoteca is run by husband and wife team Edoardo and Shannon. Incredible back vintages of Sangiovese that anywhere in the world would be hard to find. They are highly interested in small wineries like us and its a perfect fit, Booking is essential and use our name it will help, the food is not secondary. Ask for Outside tables, use our name. We love it. Piazza Pitti 16, 50125. Open 7 days a week. Pitti Gola e Cantina
Trattoria Cibreo, ristorante Cibreo, Caffè and private club-theater Teatro del Sale. The whole corner of this happening little crossroads is the brainchild of Fabio Picchi, in our mind the best value and entertaining meal in Florence. The Trattoria is what is is, simple, quick unpretentious. Tables outside is the place to be but unable to book them. The Food is pretty similar in the Restaurant, just better service. The Teatro is a buffet and be sure to find out what spectacular is happening. Teatro del Sale, Cibreo
Il Palagio. at The Four Seasons Hotel. Without doubt the most elegant restaurant in Florence and the food, wine, service and setting are luxurious. Chef Vito Mollica’s heart beats in the southern region of Basilicata, refined by a maestro, tempered by global experience. Il Palagio
Frescobaldi Wine Bar & Restaurant. A classic restaurant of Florence, Exceptional wines of which we like virtually all of the wines of this great house.Just off the famed Piazza Signoria they have both a formal dining a superb wine bar with an excellent and not overpriced shorter menu.
Via dei Magazzini, 2-4 R, 50122 Dei Frescobaldi
Da Vinci. by Enrico Panaroat Eataly. A delightful chef, devoted to ingredients, especially first-rate fish and seafood, which is difficult to find in Florence. His modern cuisine is intelligent, well executed, with a menu offering many surprises. Remember this is inside Eataly which may not be to everyones tastes. Ristorante Da Vinci
Leggenda dei Frati. Husband and wife team features contemporary Tuscan cuisine paired with world-class contemporary art and a well-chosen wine list. The location, in Villa Bardini with its museum upstairs, is amazing – terrace dining, spectacular city views during the day and after dinner private visits with the chef. Run by husband and wife Filippo and Ombretta Saporito.la leggenda dei frati
Ruggero. Outside Porta Romana, is two-room trattoria, and serves the city’s best spaghetti alla carrettiera (spicy tomato sauce) and arista (roast pork loin). Via Senese 89r. Tripadvisor Ruggero
Angiolino or 13 Gobbi. Looking for a Florentine steak and other Tuscan classics with an interesting glass of wine? Choose either Angiolino or 13 Gobbi, two restaurants from the successful restaurateurs. Enrico and Janice Verrecchia. Casatrattoria.com
Enoteca Pinchiorri. 3 stars some clients delighted others less so, Massive expectations can be the problem. Via Ghibellina, 87, 50122. Enoteca Pinchiorri
L’Antico Noè Restaurant. This is a simple Osteria (casual restaurant), which is big on classic dishes in an informal and relaxed setting, Famed for their beefs and grill. Tucked away just off Piazza San Pier Maggiore. Volta di San Piero, 6/8/r. l Antico Noe
Ino. Very close to the Uffizi, makes the city’s best panini, stuffed with well-chosen fillings. They also sell a fine selection of quality Italian foods, perfect for culinary souvenirs. Ino firenze
Nerbone inside the San Lorenzo strong on classic Florentine stapes like lampredotto and stracotto. There are also a few lunchtime options with seating across the way at marble tables. A melting pot of workers and academics and students. Tripadvisor Da Nerbon
The Mercato Centrale (open from 10 AM to midnight) is upstairs from the morning-only San Lorenzo market. It’s an Italian take on a food court, a series of specialty stands with quality offerings. Romualdo’s pizza is especially well known and loved. Mercato Centrale
Berberè for gastronomic pizza (using a cooked base for quality, sometimes creative toppings) made with long-rising dough and impeccable ingredients. There’s a nice selection of craft beers. Berbere Pizza
La Sorbettiera, just outside the tourist zone, has a limited selection of delicious flavors like lemon-sage, ultra-chocolate catrame (tar, for its deep color) and Madagascar vanilla and outdoor seating. Piazza Torquato Tasso 11. La Sorbettiera
Carapina specializes in gastronomic gelato, with fine innovative (Parmigiano, mozzarella, cocktail-inspired) and classic (rich custard, super-dark chocolate) flavors, in a small central shop with the other having seats and more flavors. Carapina
Carabè. Two Sicilians Antonio and Loredana Lisciandro run this Ode to their Islands icecream traditions: Citrus, lemon, hazelnut and pistachio gelato, and make the very best granite in town. Via Ricasoli 60/r Tripadvisor Carabe