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5 Insider Tips for Traveling on a Budget in Florence

Posted on
October 06, 2016
in Things To Do

5 Insider Tips for Traveling on a Budget in Florence

Having a limited budget as you travel doesn't mean you can't enjoy the same experiences other travelers have. Many times the difference is simply about being smart and knowing where to go or even better yet, having a local let you in on those secret spots that only they know of instead of falling into unpleasant and often overpriced tourist traps. Wouldn't it be great to always have a friend on site who could recommend those special hideaways? Here are 5 essential tips on how to travel in and through Florence and Italy without emptying your wallet completely - how to eat gourmet at 10 or less per person, how to get free entrance to museums and how to save 50% on train tickets... >>

Eats Review: LE SCUDERIE DE L'ANTINORO

Posted on
October 05, 2016
in Places to Eat

Eats Review: LE SCUDERIE DE L'ANTINORO

Just down the road from my adopted hometown, Montelupo Fiorentino, and a quick 15 minute drive from Florence city is one of my favorite restaurants hidden away in the quiet of the Tuscan countryside, nestled in a centuries-old park. As in so many places in this country, Le Scuderie de L'Antinoro is located in a building that boasts amazing historic value but you wouldn't know that unless you asked. Italians are so used to living surrounded with remnants of the past that they hardly take notice. This local restaurant was originally built as the stall ("scuderie" in Italian) where Italy's King Victor Emmanuel II once kept his horses when Florence had briefly replaced Turin as the capital of Italy in 1865. After years of abandon, in 1995... >>

EATS REVIEW: TAL DEI TALI, EMPOLI

Posted on
October 03, 2016
in Places to Eat

EATS REVIEW: TAL DEI TALI, EMPOLI

Another recommendation through my "local" eyes (my favorite food places that aren't necessarily on the main tourist path) is in Empoli, a lively city of about 48,000 people about 30 minutes west of Florence. Empoli can be easily reached from Florence by way of the FI-PI-LI highway and is a great stop for anyone heading out towards Pisa for a day trip. Very few tourists ever get to Empoli which makes it a perfect destination for anyone seeking out backroads itineraries. The historic center of Empoli is quaint and beautiful is well worth a visit. It could also be part of a Tuscan itinerary off the beaten track such as our exciting Unconventional Tuscany tour that takes you through some of the most amazing parts of this area such as Vinci... >>

NONNA ANNA'S AUTUMN MUSHROOM CROSTINI

Posted on
September 29, 2016
in Recipes

NONNA ANNA'S AUTUMN MUSHROOM CROSTINI

Everyone in my neighborhood affectionately calls her Nonna Anna, because it sometimes feels like she is everyone's grandma. She's actually my neighbor, Antonella's mom and Anna's grandaughter is my daughter's "amica del cuore", literally "friend of the heart" which is the Italian way of saying "best friend". Nonna Anna is one of those amazing Italian grandmothers: she's always got a pot simmering on the stove and something baking in the oven. She hustles her grandkids around with a sweet yet authorative manner and everyone has unwavering respect for her. She shows up at 7:30am at her daughter's home to help the family start the day, stays in after everyone's gone to school and works to tidy up the house, hauls their laundry to her house... >>

EATS REVIEW: I' TOSTO, FLORENCE

Posted on
September 28, 2016
in Places to Eat

EATS REVIEW: I' TOSTO, FLORENCE

I read about this place on a few different sites so I was curious to see what all the hype is about. Just literally 2 steps away from the Duomo in Florence, this is an excellent location for a quick lunch or snack when you're on the go. No seating available, this shop is about the size of my closet! In Italian the word "toast" has been adopted to refer to an anonymous grilled sandwich, typically filled with ham and cheese. The name I' Tosto is a Tuscan take on this English word, as it would be pronounced in the local dialect. I stopped by and loved their menu hanging out on the wall outside, 16 different kinds of sandwiches, all with creative mixes of ingredients! For someone who has been living in Italy for the past 20 years... >>

HEALTHY HOMEMADE TOMATO SAUCE: LA POMAROLA!

Posted on
September 26, 2016
in Recipes

HEALTHY HOMEMADE TOMATO SAUCE: LA POMAROLA!

It's that time of year again! September in Italy means the tradition of mammas and nonnas stirring at the stove, pots of steaming homemade tomato sauce ready to be stored away for use during the long winter months when tomatoes are no longer season. In any farmer's market in Italy in September, you will find crates and crates of juicy ripe (almost too ripe!) tomatoes at 1 per kilo...the cheapest you will ever find them during the year. This is because this is the end of the tomato season -- a vibrant season that starts in the spring and continues through the hot, colorful summer months marked with so many different kinds of varieties of tomatoes -- from the pop-in-your-mouth popcorn-like grape tomates to the great, gnarly... >>

EATS REVIEW: CAFFE CENTOFIORI, MONTELUPO FIORENTINO

Posted on
September 22, 2016
in Places to Eat

EATS REVIEW: CAFFE CENTOFIORI, MONTELUPO FIORENTINO

Although I was born and raised in New York and am a true New Yorker at heart, I most times feel like a local in my small town tucked away in Tuscany. I've been living here for 20 years now and am so fully emerged in Italian life and culture, that I sometimes forget I've been adopted by this country! So through my "local" eyes, I thought I'd begin recommending my favorite food places that aren't necessarily on the main tourist path. When I visit a new city or country, I know I usually like to hunt down those hideaways where you don't find tourists, where just the regulars go to hang out and unwind and enjoy great food. I'll start from my town, Montelupo Fiorentino, totally off the beaten track even if it's just 15 minutes from Florence. >>

EATS REVIEW: ITIT II SANDWICH CAFE, FLORENCE

Posted on
September 21, 2016
in Places to Eat

EATS REVIEW: ITIT II SANDWICH CAFE, FLORENCE

Wow I'm sitting in this cafe with my back turned to the door (so I can't see the street outside) and I feel like I'm being transported back to NYC or London. For a New Yorker who's been living in Italy for a way long time this place is a refreshing blast of the contemporary anglosaxon coffee-lounging-Starbucks culture that I often miss... only that the coffee here is actually good! The espresso is a certified Italian espresso (as regulated by the national institute of Italian espresso...yes that actually exists). The rest is very un-Italian -- from the muffins and donuts, to the sandwiches and seitan snacks, to the spacious interior complete with couches and armchairs and free WIFI. >>

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