Sunday, October 16, 2005

18 days in Italy – Part 3 of 5 - Florence

Florence, birthplace of art and culture.

Whether you stay in Florence, or as I would do, stay in one of the beautiful medieval towns along the way, take the train. There are Express trains that stop only at the big cities and diretto trains which hit every little city along the way. I would suggest you stay at Il Borro outside of Arezzo or if you want to be closer to Florence, 15 km, at Villa I Barronci in the land of Chianti. If you request it both will send a car to pick you up at the train station. Even though the Borro is farther from Florence, you can arrive by train in about 30 minutes, this is the Ferragamo family winery. They bought the entire town and have restructured everything. I have tried several of their wines and they are excellent, which I do not say often about a wine.

Take day trips to Montalcino, Montepulciano, and Siena; the first two are great places to visit the wineries while Siena is an experience in its own right. Florence is extremely touristy so it is difficult to find a great place to eat at a reasonable price. Just to the south of Florence you have the town of Reggello, and Barberino del Mugello to the north. Reggello is a must stop for dinner. They serve Carne Chianina, grass fed beef from the Tuscany hills, and Pici, a local pasta made fresh every day. There is only one real restaurant there so it is not difficult to find. In Barberino del Mugello there are several restaurants. All serve great food and better wine. By the way, this is the beginning of Tartufo season, be sure to ask for it. The red tartufo, found in this area, is considered less exotic than the white tartufo from the Piemonte region so it will cost less and is just as flavorful. Also, any house wine in this area will be top rate so do not be afraid to order by the pitcher instead of the bottle. You actually may find that the house wine costs less than the bottled water.


To see in Florence: Duomo - Basilica di San Lorenzo and Cappelle Medicee - Palazzo Vecchio e Piazza della Signoria - Galleria Degli Uffizi - Corridoio Vasariano e Ponte Vecchio - Casa Buonarroti - Basilica di Santa Croce - Chiesa di Santa Maria Novella - Palazzo Rucellai - Museo e Palazzo Davanzati - Palazzo Strozzi - Cenacolo del Ghirlandaio - Palazzo Pitti and Giardino di Boboli - Piazzale Michelangelo and San Miniato Al Monte.

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