There's nothing surprising, but yet so much to know about Florence. As with every city that has books about it and guides in all the languages the world speaks, it is as naked as any city can be, but if you look closer and more carefully, there's just so much to find out. One can never get fed up with Florence, even if the summer heat stays there and you understand the saying “who comes to Florence, stays in Florence”: it is as tempting as their freshly-baked cake straight from the oven.
The small streets tucked between houses are just too beautiful and charming to ignore, as is the majestic Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral. And, as with every city, where there are tourists more than inhabitants, the challenge is to find a place to eat. A decent, nice place to eat as well as stay. Of course, there are posh hotels all in gold, dating back to who knows when and costing a fortune, but for easy traveling, the new Student Hotel (Viale Spartaco Lavagnini 70) is all you ever dreamed of – stylish cafes, restaurants, nice rooms, a rooftop terrace with swimming pool (and Mario game station), excellent cappuccino and sandwich bar, concept store, and swings that attract everyone, even the oldest visitors who pretend not to like swings anymore.
Not far from the hotel, there's a fantastic restaurant, bistro, and kitchen shop La Menagere (Via de' Ginori 8). Those who've been there know what the fuss is about – freshly baked pastries, excellent coffee, and cocktails, sandwiches, a flower shop, and restaurant. A place you can have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and stock up your kitchen pantry or buy gifts or flowers for loved ones. Not far, just few steps away at Le Botthege di Leonardo (Via de' Ginori 21), you will continue your never-ending love story with gelato, but to fully experience Florence, one has to go to Trattoria Camillo (Via Camillo Cavour 41/R) for proper and classic Florentine steak, served by waiters dressed like they were a century ago and atmosphere that reminds you of a movie you have seen, but just forgotten which. But before you start, or for a good finish in the city, head to Da Nerbone at the Mercato Centrale. Go around and you'll see. It is impossible not to, as all the meat lovers gather there to choose from so much but still stick to the most famous - lampredotto – so that you can actually say that you have fully experienced the real taste of Firenze. Do be prepared to sweat a lot and wipe your face way too often, but you'll love it.
Firenze hides the greatest food places and also masterpieces in every church and street. Go to the Sant'Amborgo neighborhood, Museo Zoologico, Museo San Marco, and the places that speak for themselves throughout history. Step into the Palazzo Vecchio, visit the Fontana del Porcellino, gaze into local handicraft studios. Pretend you're a local, who hasn't visited the city for 10 years and dive in. Be it food or art or gold or silver, enjoy the uniqueness of a city that is as gracious as can be. And never forget, it is better done with food in one hand and wine afterwards.
Story and pictures: Signe Meirane
Camera: Sony Alpha 7s