Places to Stay - Florence
Restaurants - Florence
Places to Stay - Tuscany
Restaurants - Tuscany
Via dei Magazzini, 2
50122 Florence (Italy)
In 2008, we were lucky enough to spend three nights split between two rooms.
First, the Michelangelo which is considered to be their premium room due to its expansive view of the Piazza della Signoria. It was lovely and has a canopy bed and frescoed ceiling.
The second was the Giotto next door. Of all the rooms we have stayed in...so far our favourite! It is very bright with light terra cotta coloured walls, frescoed ceiling and excellent view of the Piazza.
Each room and bath is individualized and one feature of the Giotto is that it has an interesting door to the closet which looks like it is a gigantic oriental mirror...it is stunning!
Best of all is to wake up in the morning and see the Palazzo Vecchio tower while lying in bed. Magnifico!! Our friends had the Dante which is every bit as spacious and lovely as the front rooms except it does not have a view of the Piazza.
InPiazziaDellaSignoria is a gem that needs no polishing. They have thought of everything. Even down to providing a glass pitcher which can be filled with bottled mineral water from the coolers in the hallway on each floor.
The location is second to none and what good fortune that it is only about one block from one of the best gelaterias in Italy. Walk straight out the door into the Piazza until you get to the first street, turn right and immediately on your left you will find your way to gelato heaven!!
The staff are warm, friendly and helpful in every way. Their assistance with restaurant recommendations and reservations is invaluable in a city that has restaurants on every street.
We don't know how we missed it before, but there is a fabulous restaurant and wine bar right next door to the hotel which can be a blessing after a long day of walking the streets of Firenze. It is called the dei Frescobaldi Ristorante & Wine Bar www.frescobaldiwinebar.it See more about the restaurant under their name.
Also new in 2008, is the addition of four independent rooms across the Piazza. We have not seen these rooms but have no doubt that the management of InPiazziaDellaSignoria have put as much care and attention to detail in these suites as they have in the B&B.
Two of the four have small kitchenettes while the other two have minibars. Included in the price of the room is breakfast which is a very short walk, across the Piazza at the B&B. See their web site for details on what is offered. www.2piazzasignoria.com
Our excitement of going to Firenze is that much more by knowing that we are going to stay here. Since we have travelled in Italy so much we consider the pleasure of staying in nice accommodations part of the experience and not just a place to park our suitcases. It is all part of living la dolce vita!!
2007 - What a little gem!! In our hotel reviews we have a special category for those few hotels that we think have a real “wow factor”. The Residenza d' Epoca In Piazza Della Signoria meets that criteria. The Bed & Breakfast In Piazza Della Signoria is right in the centre of Florence -- you couldn't find a better location. The centre of Florence is busy, however, this is a not an issue staying here as the hotel has a relaxed elegance about it and it is very quiet. The communal breakfast area is like eating at a friend's very large dining room table. If comfort is foremost in your mind, the In Piazza Della Signoria is for you.
The rooms have LCD TVs, all the furnishings are antique & the bathrooms are large and unique. We stayed there in September 2007 & it rates all the goo press that they have received.
We stayed in the Botticelli room which has a day bed where a third person could sleep. The room was huge. We looked at a number of the rooms and found them all to be of a very good size. The main difference is whether the room has a view or not. In our room, not only was the room spacious but our bathroom had a big soaker tub that could fit two. There are fine touches that make staying here very special. They supply large bottles of bubble bath and lotion. They even included a candle to complete the ambience.
They have a parking garage they use if you have a car. We found the directions they provided to guide us in and out of the city and to the hotel to be very detailed and good. There is no large sign out front. As soon as you drive into the Piazza, it is on your left. Sonia & Alessandro Pini, the owners, have made this B&B a little oasis in an area that is all-a-buzz with tourists. It is priced higher than we would normally spend when we are traveling for 3 weeks to a month, but it was well worth the money!
vie dei Magazzini, 2-4/R
It seems no matter now many times we have been to Florence there is always something that we have not seen, or not seen in the same way.
Here is a great restaurant that is right beside what we call "our home" in Florence, the B&Binpiazzasignoria — the restaurant dei Frescobaldi.
As wine producers the opened their restaurant with enthusiasm and we can certainly say they had enthusiasm. Although we arrived with no reservation, we were not brushed away. No, we had a very warm greeting. We were seated in the bar area and told that if we waited for five to ten minutes, a table that had a no show would be ours.
Well in no time we were sitting at a great table in the room that is part of the actual wine bar - this area has a great upscale casual feeling - enjoying one of the best meals we have had. The restaurant has a number of rooms, each with its own decor. They all looked great.
The restaurant in Florence opened in 2002. Their first wine bar opened in the Rome Fiumicino Airport in 1999.
The food was excellent, the wines were priced appropriately. There was a good selection choose from in terms of variety, quality and price. We started the evening with a bottle of Frescobaldi Presseco - at 30 Euro is was a good price for the wine.
The pate with vin santo jelly was really good. We all had various pasta and we are still talking about the pumpkin ravioli although the other dishes were all great. From stuffed squid, steak or osso bucco - we had it all and all enjoyed the dishes.
The restaurant is closed on Sunday, and closed for lunch on Mondays. In 2009 the restaurant is listed in the Michelin Red Guide with a two fork rating ... well deserved.
Borgo S. Jacopo, 37/r -
Tel: (055) 2.39.60.09
Eating at this restaurant has been a tradition of ours for a number of years. Great food. Worth each of its Michelin Two-Fork rating. The Mamma Gina Cannaloni will certainly keep bringing you back.
Back many times we have been, as recent at 2008 and 2007. Be hungry when you arrive as you will get very generous portions In 2008 we tried to pace ourselves by only having an appetizer, a pasta and then a dessert. That was more than enough. The canneloni is a dish you will be talking about well after you return from your vacation!.
It is easy to find. Walk across the bridge, turn right at the first corner and walk down street four or five blocks, it is on the left hand side.
via dei Bardi, 58r -
This was recommended to us in 2008 as one of the “in” places to eat, and because some of the tables have window views overlooking the river and the Ponte Vecchio. So when you make a reservation, ask for a window table. The food was good, and the place is quite trendy with a great “buzz”. Just walk across the Ponte Vecchio and turn to your left.
For those wanting to see a different part of Tuscany, the Mugello region with its rolling green hills, its Medici villas dotting the landscape and the impressive Castello Fortezza of Scarperia will love this area.
While there, we stayed at the Villa Campestri which is a tranquil paradise set up on the hill. It is centuries old and the current owners, Paolo Pasquali with daughters Viola and Gemma, have restored it leaving the original structure intact. Staying there is like stepping back in time.
There is the main villa and two out buildings with rooms that are all individually decorated in antiques pieces. Grand state rooms in the main villa have original period pieces and a great place to relax after a long day out sightseeing. One of the “wow factors” of this hotel is their large outdoor pool which is in one of the loveliest settings we have seen and overlooks the valley. All around the grounds there are areas set up with chairs and tables to enjoy a quiet read, contemplation or just a nap.
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal in the beautiful restaurant with the beamed ceilings and original frescos. The food was outstanding and if It had been in a warmer part of the season we would have been able to enjoy it on their very large terrace overlooking the large estate of groomed lawns, cypress trees and urns of hydrangeas.
Their breakfast buffet was lovely and they provide light lunches and snacks for those clients that just want to stay around and enjoy the Villa.
Paolo Pasquali takes care of the Villa’s large olive grove which produces oil for the use of their restaurant and gifts for their guests. Their olive grove is an integral part of the Villa which is why they refer to themselves as an Olive Oil Resort. Chef Roberto Zanieri has an inventive menu and something unusal with the restaurant is that they have many dishes where they have substituted olive oil for butter.
The Campestri also has cooking classes and olive oil tasting classes that they will do for a minimum of two people up to a maximum 15.
Florence and the autostrade to other parts of Tuscany or Bologna is nearby. A commuter train to Florence, just a short distance away. For those wanting to do some power-shopping, the huge Barberino Outlet mall is also closeby.
Staying here is like staying with good friends. We know others that have also stayed and enjoyed the Villa Campestri and they have all raved about the personal attention. The Villa Campestri is for those that want to have their vacation be more than just non-stop sightseeing. It is more for those that want to spend part of their time winding down and enjoying what this serene, historic villa has to offer. A stay here is highly recommended.
loc. Pietrafittta, 46
53011 Castellina in Chianti (SI)
Web site: www.borgopietrafitta.com
(2010) We liked the Pietrafitta so much last year that we decided to take our friends. We had two apartments closeby which allowed for some privacy. We did not get the apartment that we had last year which turned out to be a good thing. It allowed us to find out what another apartment was like and we liked it even more than the first which we really enjoyed. Both apartments were close to the beautiful infinity pool and had great views. We ate all of our dinners and breakfasts here which were full-on gourmet meals. Our friends, the Grant’s had an apartment with the best view of the valley and you couldn’t ask for a more pleasant place to have breakfast. Our apartment had a huge diningroom table and since it was cool and there were mosquitos we had our dinners in this lovely room.
Pietrafitta is very well managed and the management and staff are very friendly. We were really impressed when a light in the kitchen went out of commission on Sunday and they had an electrician there to fix it that day!! Although it was pretty warm for a fire we couldn’t resist buying some wood for our beautiful fire in the fireplace. We also purchased what was needed for their BBQ so we could cook our Bifstecca Florentina. The BBQ are is set up for four groups to be able to BBQ at one time with a nice seating area for each.
Castellina has a decent sized market on Saturday and there is a very good butcher in town on the main street. We went to Panzano the following day for two reasons. First, to visit the Antico Macelleria Cecchini which has been written up by Jamie Oliver. It was a great experience, the meat was great. Be prepared to pay a hefty price!! If you are there around noon, they have an osteria with fixed priced meals. We were there mid-morning so it was too early for us to stick around and try it. The second reason was to go to their market. A big disappointment so we would recommend that you pick up more at the Castellina market and use the butcher in town.
On one of the days we went to the Osteria Fonterutoli for lunch. We ate outdoors and there was a nice view. The meal was outstanding…one of the best we had on the trip excluding our own cooked meals!!! The also have an Enoteca and their wine is very good. We also had a lunch at Le Vigne in Radda in Chianti. A view that can’t be beaten, the food was very good but we thought on this trip that it was very expensive. We would still recommend it, though as it screams “chianti region”.. See more about the restaurants in the “restaurant” section.
No need to say more other than we are looking forward to our next stay at Borgo Pietrafitta!!
(2009) We spent four wonderful days at this great agriturismo which is made up of a group of buildings which is considered the hamlet of Pietrafitta. They have their own vineyard, but you do not see it from the accommodations. The buildings are high on the hill, with a beautiful view of the valley from some of the apartments. Be sure to bring a sweater for cool evenings.
The apartment we had was outstanding and was fairly represented on the web site (We are selfishly not providing the name of the apartment so we have a better chance of reserving it on a subsequent visit.) We did see another larger apartment and it was also very nice so I don’t think you will be disappointed.
The apartment was large and was absolutely charming! The kitchen had everything you need to cook a full meal. We used ours for appetizer type meals after having big lunches while out driving in the countryside. We wish that we had taken advantage of more dinners there as it was very pleasant, beautiful outdoor furniture and great views. Three deer appeared, after dark about five feet from our table and stood there for a long time.
Shopping is available 4 kms away in Castellina in Chianti where there is a Co-Op food store and two other small food stores on the main pedestrian street. We did our shopping at the two small stores and the owners were particularly nice supplying us with very small quantities of sugar and salt at no charge. There is also a very good gelateria on that same street and a few nice retail stores. We picked up a big candle at a housewares/gift store on the main street and it was very beautiful sitting out enjoying the evening.
There is a beautiful infinity pool with high quality loungers. Italians do not heat their pools and seeing as Pietrafitta is at a higher elevation the water was a little chilly in late September.
Castellina in Chianti is a good base to visit all the towns in the area. Located about 30 kms from Florence with easy access to the main road, the Racconda it is easy to make a day trip. Siena is also only a short drive away and there is a very fast road just south of the city that takes you to Assisi and Perugia. We also like to go to Pienza and San Gimignano which are each about an hour away.
Via Di Chiusi, 37
Web Site: www.lasovana.com
What a fabulous time we had at La Sovana! Their agriturismo is beautifully situated overlooking their vineyard, olive grove and lovely valley. We received a warm welcome upon arriving and knew we were in for a treat seeing the lovingly restored farm buildings that have been turned into rooms, suites and self-catering apartments. Our Superior double room was large with hardwood floors and beamed ceilings and was filled with beautiful antique furniture and rich textured floral fabrics. We saw several rooms that ranged from a smaller standard, a room with two bedrooms that would very accommodating for a family, a suite with a bedroom and seating area and self catering apartments. If renting one of the two bedroom apartments, ask for one that has a view over the vineyard.
The grounds provided that Tuscan appeal with manicured lawns, flower filled terra cotta pots and lots of towering cypress trees. There are many lovely seating areas to read a book, sip on a glass of wine or just enjoy the amazing view.
Glenn enjoyed a swim before dinner in the large pool which has a jacuzzi right beside it. Regrettably, we were only there one night so did not get a chance to take their vineyard tour (their wine is VERY good) or partake in the many other activities La Sovana offers (bike rental, tennis, boules, or fishing in their private lake). Although the majority of their guests are adults, they have included a play area which is close enough to satisfy the parents and far enough away so as not to disturb the adult guests.
While we were there we enjoyed a very tasty meal outdoors while others ate in the casual elegance of their restaurant surrounded by glass windows.
The restaurant is only open to their hotel guests and the menu is posted outside the reception area so you can sign up at the beginning of the day if you intend to eat there.
I would highly recommend it as the food was delicious and we thoroughly enjoyed the wine from their vineyard although they offer others as well. All the ingredients are fresh and homemade and it was a nice touch that they came by with platters for seconds of the pasta and meat courses. The Olivi family, who are the owners, dine with their guests every evening and the night we were there there happened to be very good live music. Father, Giuseppe started the party off and the terrace was filled with people dancing. We were having so much fun that it didn't matter that we had been up over 36 hours coming from Vancouver that day.
La Sovana is perfectly located to visit Tuscany and Umbria. It is only a few kilometers away from the A1 autostrade, half way between Rome and Florence. Visiting Orvieto, Assisi, Pienza, Montepulciano, Siena, naming just a few, is very easy. A day trip to Florence for the day is easy by train. A prime benefit of staying here is that you can rent a car in either Orvieto or Chuisi and avoid the stress of having to drive in the big cities.
I have had many clients who thought La Sovana was the highlight of their vacation in Italy. Giuseppe Olivi's vineyard tour and tasting being a delight! Having experienced their wonderful hospitality and ambiance ourselves, I strongly recommend a stay here!
We have visited this hotel in 1994, 1997 and again in 2006. On all our stays, and from the comments we have heard back from the many people we have referred to this hotel, the location is noted as being excellent.
Touring Tuscany? You have to also see San Giminano. Despite being a target for tourists, the town is remarkable and worth putting up with the crowds.
The Pescille is located just 4.5 km south of the town, with the hotel on the location of what was previously an old farm.
Over the many years we have stayed here, the Pescille remains a very beautiful hotel. One of the nicest locations at which to rest while touring Tuscany. On a hot day the pool and the gardens are most enjoyable.
When we stayed in one of the suites the decor was top notch, when we took one of the standard rooms, the decor was more on the basic level. But not the worry, the hotel itself is stunning.
There is no restaurant in the hotel, but we noticed that they run a shuttle bus service from the hotel to San Gimignano so it is easy to get back and forth. If going into town for dinner in the evening, the day trip tourists have left and it is easier to get a parking slot.
via Oriato, 2/4
53047 Sarteano (SI)
Tel/Fax: 0578 265521 | Web Site: www.baizarini.it
Our comments are based on our previous vsists. In 2008, in communicating with Le Anfore, we were informed that new owners were making changes to the staff. So, we will leave our comments with a reservation that things may have changed.
We are always on the lookout for a great place to stay that is an easy drive from Rome. This is one of them. Located only 6 km from the A1 Autostrada (Florence to Rome) you can stay here and within 90 minutes be on the Grande Raccordo Annulare (GRA) - which circles Rome. From there it is into Rome, the airport, or any of the other Autostrada's that network fom the GRA.
We first stayed here in June, 2006 in a beautiful suite that could sleep up to four. There was a livingroom with a balcony, a large king size bed in one room and two twin beds in another bedroom. The bathroom was huge. The decor was beautiful with some antique pieces and alot of attention given to details such as bathrobes, individually coloured bath towels which made it feel more like home than a hotel.
We stayed again in 2007 and the only thing we want to report is that things have stayed pretty much the same and as before we had a great experience.
While sitting outside playing cards, we were treated to a glass of the Le Anfore's private label prosecco. We had one dinner and as usual it was exceptional! Highly recommended and would suggest that you request the Carroll suite which overlooks the pool, olive grove & vineyard. It is real good value and for a small extra charge you can use the 2nd bedroom to accommodate four.
If you are not able to get that suite ask for the suite directly behind it overlooking the courtyard called the Atoll.
The 3rd suite we thought was broken up and did not have a view.
If taking a standard room, ask for the 3rd floor which has a bit of a view.
The 2nd floor rooms do not have views. All standard rooms are pretty small but nicely decorated.
They have a fabulous pool which is surrounded by vineyards & olive groves. Lots of comfortable pool furniture so after a day or touring Umbria or Tuscany you can return for a swim and relax.
We took the half-board option (Breakfast and dinner) and this was a great decision as the meals we had were outstanding. Dinner was server in the small courtyard and each of the three nights we were there we were impressed. They produce wines and the Le Anfore white was 5.50 Euros a bottle and very good.
There is a little english spoken but don't let that be a factor in not selecting this as a great place to stay.
It took two passes to find Le Anfore. From the A1 Autostrada, about 41 km north of Orvieto, take the exit for Sarteano. Follow S478 for 6km and the small road (via Oriato) will be on your left just at the bend in the road. The town of Sarteano is only 1.5 km down the S478 so if you arrive in town, you have missed the turn!
This is a great base location for touring. Siena is only 84 km, Florence 135 km and Rome just 168 km away!
It was on our 1997 visit to Elba that we stayed at the Hotel Tre Colnne in the Marina di Campo area of Elba.
This was a great surprise. It is a modern hotel, has a killer pool, and the food was exceptional. We actually walked away because meals were required and we thought we did not want big meals but would rather go out in the evening for something later. Fatique won and we returned to the hotel. Well the means were some of the best we had in Italy. The hotel even had bikes to use so we could take short bike rides around the area. Go onto the beach, it is about a twenty minute walk one end to the other. Heaven.
Very little if any english spoken here which is fine, we are in Italy! Anyway, luckily my server spoke French so I could ask questions about the menu in French and well, we only had a few surprises.
Hotel Tre Colonne;
via G. Fattoria, 6;
57034 Marina di Campo
Web Site: www.hoteltrecolonne.it
via San Carlo, 2/4 -
Pienza, (SI) Italy
Telephone: 0578 748606 | Website
We have had a number of great meals at this little restaurant in Pienza. When travelling in Tuscany we just say, let's to Pienza for lunch!
The small trattoria is located at the end of town, on the main street via San Carlo. Walk out of the duomo across the piazza, turn right on via San Carlo and within a few blocks you are at the end of the via and there is the Latte di Luna. Be there just before 12:30 or you will not be able to get one of the outdoor tabels.
The food has always been great. The roast meat special dish of the day has always been outstanding. One visit it was pork, an our last visit it was rabbit. The bruschetta is not to be missed. It was so good that our friend Chris Grant ordered another dish for dessert! Confussed the serving staff but hell, taste those tomatoes, olive oil and garlic!
The crew of the film, English Patient, which was shot near Pienza, frequented the restaurant. There are pictures of Ralph Fiennes and other stars on the walls.
The restaurant does not take credit cards so take enough money with you. And again, it fills up fast so don't be the last off the streets for the noon meal. Reasonably priced, in 2006, two bruschetta, two pastas, half litre of house wine and a larger bottle of water can to 25 Euros.
While staying at the Borgo di Pietrafitta, it was a short drive into Castellina in Chianti and we ate twice at the very good restaurant, Tre Porte Pizzeria. Located on the main street, there is parking sometimes on the street or in the parking lot just down a hill.
The first night we both had very nice pasta dishes and the second night we had steaks. Mine was in a Chianti sauce which I found a little overpowering and confusion with my attempt at ordering my steak medium rare in Italian was a disaster. I should have returned it as it was rare and in Italy rare means just burning the hair off the animal. My husband’s steak was delicious!!
Just East of Radda
Tel: +39 0577 738640
When you eat at the Ristorante Le Vigne, you are seated outside, on a large patio that overlooks a valley of vineyards. This is the real feel of eating in Tuscany.
Although it is a bit of a challenge to find, even with our GPS we went back and forth through Radda and almost left the area in frustration. We are glad we persevered. It is the Ristorante Le Vigne.and you turn on a gravel road when you see the sign that says Podere Le Vigne. (Do not confuse it with the hotel and restaurant La Vignale).
Our mean was wonderful!! It is a bit odd that they have plastic outdoor furniture while at the same time setting them up formally with white table cloths. It was a nice touch, though, as the elegantly presented food deserved the more formal setting.
Even with this the restaurant is casual and people arrived in shorts and motorcycle gear. They have a large dining room inside, but the outside is the way to go.
The food was delicious, nicely presented, the wine excellent and well priced.
via La Dogna, 12
Tel: 39.0575.614109 | Web Site: www.lacortedeipapi.com
Relais La Corte dei Papi is a lovely relais that has been in David Papi's family for hundreds of years. It was his family home and he has turned it into an inviting hotel and elegant restaurant.
Our schedule did not allow us the opportunity to stay at La Corte dei Papi, but we had a delicious lunch of homemade pastas and mouthwatering desserts enjoying the ambiance of their canopied terrace. They also have a very nice restaurant indoors. We sat at one of the tables by the pool.
After lunch we had a chance to visit with David. He showed us around several elegant rooms and suites that are all traditionally and individually decorated. David was involved in the decor selections.
La Corte dei Papi It is an ideal place for a wedding and they often fill this small hotel with the entire wedding party.
Room rates are available on their web site, and staying here is more of a choice to have a special place to stay, rather than looking for economy. Ww may just have to treat ourselves in the off season!
© Glenn & Karen Marcus
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