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mogsob

Florence Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations

206 posts in this topic

Il Ritrovo. Without a doubt. Heck, I'd go twice in one week without thinking about it.

yeah, i gotta jump on the bandwagon. and i *did* go twice in one week without thinking about it. i'll be posting notes on a few more places in the coming days. but that beef at Il Ritrivo is worth going to Florence for on its own.

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Regarding the bisteca do you need to order ahead? Il Ritrovo is on the definate list for this may, but Rick Steves recommending it may not be good news,won't it soon become overcrowded? RR

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Il Ritrovo was suprisingly quiet on a recent Saturday evening (mid October). We didn't need reservations and the place was less than half full. So quiet in fact that the chef spent most of the evening out front entertaining us and giving us cookery tips. Although he said that he had been fairly busy all week. If we'd have had more time we would have gone again. He is certainly passionate about his food!

Latini on the other hand was mobbed. And if you don't have a reservation you won't get in (we made one that afternoon as we were passing) . Even with a reservation they go through the 7:30 and 9:30 mob crush, calling out the names of parties and ushering them in like nightclub bouncers. There were several large parties that could easily have been coach parties. I'd say they were all either American or English. Food was good, plenty of it and reasonable priced and it is an "experience".

I'd definitely go back to Il Ritrovo. Not sure about Latini.


Edited by theakston (log)

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My last dinner about 2 years ago at Il Latini was downhill from previous visits. I had heard that the brothers had split up acrimoniously, and the one responsible for the good cooking had opened a new restaurant in San Gimignano. Doesn't seem to have affected the crowds which are about 50% tourist and 50% Italian with more tourists at the earlier seatings. Does anyone know anything about this?

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I was in Florence last February for four days. I ate at Il Ritrovo four times. Food and wine were great, but I think it was Rosetta that brought me back.

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Il Ritrovo was almost full, but able to accomidate a single diner (myself) without a wait for a somewhat late lunch last week. I was also the only non-Italian. Possibly due to the communication barrier, they were reluctant to sell me a bistecca below 1 kg, not even at the 600g mark that seems to be the standard for most Florentine restaurants. I politely insisted, and although they seemed doubtful of my ability to finish it (and said "no primi for you" or something to that effect), they relented and served me my 2.2 lb steak. I sense that being of somewhat less than imposing stature and asian suggested to them that I was one of the many Japanese tourists in the area that happened to wander in by mistake. Evidently they have never seen footage the skinny hot dog eating champion. At any rate I finished my steak with much gusto and satisfaction (delicious, as reviewed earlier), they seemed happy and relieved, comped my wine, and I didn't need to eat for the next 22 hours or so, except some gelato to ease it all down. Bravo to the bistecca!

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As an aside to Schielke's thread in which Pan provides some excellent information regarding Florence itself, I would like some ideas regarding day trips. We will have about 8 days in Florence, and we want to venture out in several directions: to Arezzo, Siena, Lucca, and Bologna.

I have read that the bus is the best transport to Siena, and I would expect the train to Bologna is fastest. But my primary concern is whether a one day round trip to Bologna via public transportation is worthwhile--if the last train leaves at 2030 and my only dinner reservations are at 2100, we have a problem. My wife wants to go to Arezzo, so I have no input on that one! We have been to Siena and could probably survive on a quick trip ino town. Lucca may present the same issues as Bologna--does bus/train travel really allow for a one-day trip from Florence, or will a rental car ameliorate the situation? Thanks.

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Lucca is easy: 1 hour by train, many trains. I'm having trouble finding a website that will easily provide you train schedules, though. No doubt, someone has it bookmarked.

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I don't know if this is the easiest one, but www.trenitalia.com is one resource.

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I don't know if this is the easiest one, but www.trenitalia.com is one resource.

To the best of my knowledge, it's the only (and probably official) resource. All other sites that I'm aware of eventually link back to Trenitalia.

Trains between Firenze and Bologna are numerous and depart about every 30 minutes or so. Travel time is about an hour.

When I do a day trip to Bologna, I generally leave about 09:00 - long lunch around 15:00 - return around 19:00.

If I recall correctly, the last train from Bologna back to Firenze departs around 22:30

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I had the same problem with both Bologna and Lucca. Remedy, a good lunch, a long stroll afterwards and a beautful evening back in Florence.


slowfood/slowwine

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Unless you are really patient, I would highly discourage you from renting a car to go from Florence to Bologna. Both cities are highly congested. In Florence you have many one way streets that can be a nightmare if you don't know your way around. Bologna is often besieged with trade show traffic. The train is definitely the best way to go. The bus to Siena from Florence is convenient and cheap, it leaves from a terminal off ot the side of the train station.

A car is essential if you want to see the countryside outside Florence, which is beautiful.

Outside Florence are several fashion outlets. If your wife like Prada, take her to the Prada outlet in Montevarchi, 80k south of Florence and near Arezzo. Warning: you will be there for a while.

I have never enjoyed Lucca. I find it overly tourisy and completely lacking in charm, especially compared to the other nearby towns, which are still heavily touristed but much more pleasant. Lucca is good if you want to go to the opera at nearby Torre del Lago.

Best,

Antonio

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One warning about the bus from Florence to Siena: Do not take the "Diretto"; it's the slowest route! Take the bus that says "Via Cassia." From what I remember, the trip lasts just about 1 hour.

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Another site for getting train schedules all over Eruope is run by Deutsche Bahn. The address for running searches in English is: http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en?datesel=custom

Bologna, Pisa, Arezzo, Lucca, and Siena are all reached by train from Florence. Bologna, the furthest, actually has the most frequent service (up to twice an hour) and is reached fastest (except for Arezzo) in a bit less than an hour usually (high speed trains and fewer stops). Service to the other cities mentioned is about once an hour and can take from 40 minutes (Arezzo) to an hour and a half (Siena). Last trains back to Florence leave at 21:51 (Lucca), 21:22 (Siena), 22:47 (Arezzo), and 22:46 (Bologna). Be sure to check the schedules once in Florence.

The train would be a very good way to get to Bologna, Arezzo, and Lucca, but the Arezzo train station is not well located with respect to the old part of the town (neither is the station in Siena). For other sites in Tuscany, a car is really necessary. A drive from Florence to Siena through the Chianti region is really wonderful. The towns are atmospheric, food is good, and one can stop at various cantinas to try wine. Another town not accessible by train is San Gimignano, definitely worth a day. An advantage of driving to Arezzo is that you can extend the drive to Sansepolcro and Monterchi to see additional paintings and frescos by Pierro di Francesca. South of Siena, nice drives include Montepulciano and Montalcino. So I would really recommend at least a few days with a car -- perhaps making Siena or a town in Chianti as a center for this part of a stay rather than staying exclusively in Florence.

One final comment. I am surprised by Antonio Galloni's negative reaction to Lucca. I find Lucca really enchanting -- a completely medieval town surrounded entirely with an intact wall; several wonderful unaltered romanesque churches; a Roman arena site that has been converted into houses; and several fine restaurants.

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I enjoyed my visit to Lucca, too. The atmosphere was peaceful and relaxed, but it was some time ago (1991!), and perhaps now the place is much more overrun than it was then.

Many smaller towns will doubtless be reachable by bus, too, but the schedules may be problematic. When you get to Florence, have a look at schedules at the bus station right next to the Santa Maria Novella Train Station.

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Doesn't the ENIT have a website? It's the Italian train system. It worked okay for me recently.

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The bus to take to Siena is a blue bus, similar to a Greyhound bus in the US. It goes non stop from Florence to Siena in 45-60 minutes.

Antonio

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Will be in Florence this weekend, Friday morning through Monday evening - anyone want to go for a gelato, PM me.

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Thanks !

Rain or shine, it will be fun. And fattening.

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Ciao

I live here in Florence, but will be teaching on Saturday... Sunday will be going to the Santa Spirito Flea market

here is my Florence's Ice Cream Guide

You must go to Vestri!!! he is a chocolate maker and his ice cream is kept in the cans in the counter!!! the BEST love the chocolate and chili!!!

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We had a rental car in Florence - had picked it up in Rome, worked our way north, kept it in Florence for a couple of days before dropping it off there so that we could do some day trips.

Parking was trickier than the one-way streets, but I have an uncanny sense of how to get around. I wound up using a commercial parking garage near our pensione.

We did wonderful day trips to San Gimignano - vigna is absolutely correct above - & to Volterra, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I found the Etruscan gate at Volterra spellbinding, I was transfixed.


Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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Do I want to? O god yes!

But I'm in New Jersey at the moment..... :wacko:


Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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Easy daytrips..

for one thing, with daytrips, make lunch your big meal out! Almost everything shuts down at lunch time, so it makes sense.

Bologna is a fabuluos day trip, I love their market outdoors between the buildings off the Piazza.. and the food!

Chianti can be reached by bus.. Greve has a great new winetasting cantina hidden near the Coop grocery store..a fabulous experience for wine lovers!

you get a prepaid card.. 10,20 Euro, are handed a glass.. and go to one of the round tables with 14 wines, and push a button and are give a 1 oz tasting of a wine, this can cost from 30 cents to 8 Euro!

There is more info on my site.

Both Lucca and Arezzo are easy train day trips. ( Depending when you are there, they are both towns that have incredible antique markets on the weekend. Arezzo the first Sunday and the Satruday before and Lucca the Third Sunday and the Satruday before)

Again LUNCH!

It is easy to dine in Florence at night even lightly after a large lunch!


Edited by divina (log)

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