“Eat and Sleep”
Good food and good wine are plentiful in Italy. Even a simple pasta dish with just olive oil tastes extraordinary. Here are a few restaurants I tried — mostly recommended by friends and locals.
Osteria Del Cinghiale Bianco (the White Boar) in Florence serves good reliable typical Tuscan cuisine.
Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina is a quaint wine bar located across Palazzo Pitti that also serves traditional and modern Italian cuisine. They specialize in small production, high end wines.
I was at Cibreo Trattoria when I last visited Florence 13 years ago and the experience was imprinted on my mind — that I had to return. This time the evening started at the Cibreo Caffe for an apertivo before an outstanding dinner across the street at Cibreo Ristorante. This group of restaurants is owned by the famous local chef, Fabbio Picchi.
Another homey trattoria is Le Antiche Carrozze Trattoria, located at Piazza Santa Trinita, where they have been serving good pizza and pasta dishes since 1875.
When you find yourself in the vicinity of the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, go to the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. This is Florence‘s oldest perfumery-pharmacy selling botanical and herbal products. Hiding at the back of the store is a nice bijou tea room.
I must say I am not too fond of the food at Il Latini, which is recommended by many former visitors to the city. There was a line waiting to get in at opening time, however, I find it mediocre and a bit touristy.
Probably one of the best meals I had in Florence was at Trattoria Sostanza. The Pollo al Burro is heavenly in this no-frills, hole-in-the wall restaurant.
Meanwhile, if you are wanting for a hip cafe for coffee or lunch, stop by the Gucci Museo Caffe located in the Piazza della Signoria.
Another nice stop for coffee and pastries is the Caffe Gilli located at the Piazza della Repubblica. One of the oldest operating cafes in the city dating back to 1733.
Of course, one has to have gelato in Florence! Venchi, the Italian chocolate maker that started in 1878, serves excellent gelato.
In Rome, Roscioli is highly recommended. This is a restaurant, deli and bakery — all rolled into one.
Antica Enoteca is an institution in Rome that was established in 1842 and is located close to the Spanish Steps.
Located in Rome‘s hip left bank, is Grazia & Graziella located by Piazza di Santa Maria Trastevere.
And of course, I could not resist going to Eataly Roma – after having had several satisfying visits to Eataly in New York. Compared to the New York location, this place is massive! The food is as reliable and good.
And you may be wondering why I was at a restaurant serving Malay food in Rome? I must admit that I was skeptical when invited for dinner at Court Delicati, but it was surprisingly delicious. I heard this place is almost always packed and you would need to make a reservation.
I stayed at the Hotel Gallery Arts in Florence, which is owned by the Ferragamo family. It is well located steps from Ponte Vecchio but tucked away on a side street away from the crowd. It is situated in a central location and the service is very attentive. My suitcase did not arrive with me and they took charge of coordinating with the airline for its retrieval, without me asking them to. Their daily breakfast is of top quality — and that includes the coffee and cappuccino.
In Rome, the Forty Seven Hotel was where I stayed and it is located across from the Temple of Vesta, by the Roman Forum. The rooms are large by European standards, however, the location would not rate high on the walkability score. It is close to the bridge to take one to the hip and fun restaurants of Trastevere, otherwise it will be close to half an hour trek to the other major sights of Rome.