Collected by Natalie Stroud Brown
Piazza del Mercato Centrale, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Foodies (and those simply interested in local color and a good meal) should head to San Lorenzo and its covered Mercato Centrale. Florence’s main market for edibles is housed in a 19th-century glass-and-iron building. On the...
Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Ideally you'd have a whole day to appreciate the world’s foremost collection of Renaissance paintings, housed in the 16th-century headquarters of the Medici court. But for those with less time, highlights include the three great...
Piazza S. Croce, 16, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
The Franciscan Basilica di Santa Croce, with its striped green-and-white marble facade, dates from about 1294. Inside are the tombs of many celebrated early Florentines, including Dante, Michelangelo and Machiavelli. Among the many art treasures...
Via dei Palchetti, 6R, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
One of the most fun places I dined at in Italy was Il Latini, in Florence. It's in a large, maze-like building with aged prosciutto hanging from the ceilings, and art collaged upon the walls. Seating is at communal tables, and at times it felt...
Piazza Pitti, 1, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Piazza Santo Spirito, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Florence’s most lively square is dominated by the blank, unfinished facade of Brunelleschi’s last church. Lined with trees and centered around a pretty fountain, the piazza plays host to a small daily market (where local ladies do their shopping)...
Via Rosina, 2r, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Cramped it may be, but rustic Da Mario, located at the back of the mercato centrale, serves up a menu of consistently reliable Florentine classics to a mix of stall workers, business folk and tourists, and it’s always packed. The choice changes...
Piazza Ognissanti, 3, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
The rooftop restaurant of the Westin Excelsior hotel wins top prize for being the most panoramic spot for a meal in Florence; floor-to-ceiling, wraparound windows permit 360-degree views over the entire city and the hills beyond....
Piazza del Duomo, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Despite the fact that it was the last week of October, the line to climb to the top of the Duomo dome was wrapped around the building. The line to climb Giotto's bell tower, right next door, was nonexistent. Lucky for us, we had our walking shoes...
Borgo degli Albizi, 11r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
If you love gelato and chocolate, no place will romance you quite like Vestri. Before you know what's inside, you'll be drawn in by the antique and elegant exterior and by the shiny packages peeking out. Inside, the small shop's allure consists of...
Via delle Porte Sante, 34, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Most people who visit Florence know that walking to Piazzale Michelangelo is a must. However, fewer people know that walking a little higher to the old church of San Miniato al Monte is an even better experience. Amble down the Arno River to Viale...
Via Labicana, 95, 00184 Roma RM, Italy
In 1857, the prior of the Basilica di San Clemente thought there might be something underneath his 12th-century church, already renowned for its relics and striking mosaic of the Crucifixion. When he excavated, he found not only the original,...
Via della Meloria, 43, 00136 Roma RM, Italy
Gabriele Bonci's famous pizza-by-the-slice joint serves some of the best pizza in town. The slow-leavened dough is made from organic stoneground flour, and toppings change throughout the day. Pizzarium also sells excellent bread and supplì (fried...
116, Via Statilio Ottato, 110, 00175 Roma RM, Italy
Excellent fried starters, delectable pizzas, and a large selection of craft beers make this one of Rome's best pizzerias. The style is Neapolitan with a high rim, as opposed to the thin crusted Roman style. The Greenwich (stilton and port...
Via degli Specchi, 6, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
This pub, owned by the Piedmont-based Baladin brewing company and Lazio's own Birra del Borgo, opened in September 2009 and was quickly canonized as the best place to drink Italian beers in Rome. There are over 120 labels to choose from, ranging...
Via Trionfale, 36, 00195 Roma RM, Italy
Panificio Bonci, which opened in November 2012, is legendary baker Gabriele Bonci’s bread bakery. Located in the Trionfale district—not far from Bonci’s famous pizza-by-the-slice joint, Pizzarium—the bakery sells loaves, sandwiches, and a handful...
Piazza degli Zingari, 4, 00184 Roma RM, Italy
A 10-minute walk from the Forum, Gelateria Fatamorgana sells Maria Spagnuolo’s edible works of art. Each flavor is made from all natural ingredients, without chemical additives or artificial flavors, and many are lactose free. Spagnuolo’s...
Via del Casaletto, 45, 00151 Roma RM, Italy
Cesare al Casaletto is far off the well-beaten tourist track, but it is easy to get to: just take the 8 tram from Piazza Venezia or Largo Argentina and get off at the very last stop. Fifty yards from the tram tracks sits Rome's best trattoria,...
Foro Traiano, 82, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
In spite of its reputation as a city of local, seasonal dining, these characteristics of Roman cuisine are actually under threat and in widespread decline. For this reason, the government has stepped in with the hopes of saving local farms and...
Vicolo del Bottino, 8, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
I love to go to this restaurant and wine bar for a glass of prosecco and to enjoy the unique view out over the Spanish Steps and the rest of Rome as the sun sets. 39/06-699-341000. By Pepi Marchetti Franchi, as told to Elizabeth Minchilli. This...
Piazza della Trinità dei Monti, 2, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
Ciampini has all the required three Ps (that's a thing, right?): People-watching, prime piazza location, and perfect cappuccini to make it the most coveted caffè bar in Rome. From 8 a.m. to after dark, Rome's best-dressed flock to Piazza...
Via Borgognona, 11, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
I often take out-of-town guests here for lunch because it feels—and is—so authentic. Whenever I go in, I have ‘my’ table, as do all the other Roman regulars. One of the restaurant’s specialties is the Francovich soup, which is a delicious Tuscan...
Via di Capo le Case, 6, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
Old-fashioned stores, like this one that makes and sells hand-embroidered children’s clothes, are in danger of dying out. I keep the tradition going and buy baby gifts for my girlfriends. 39/06-679-2992. By Pepi Marchetti Franchi, as told to...
Vicolo delle Bollette, 13, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
Here is one of Rome’s best restaurants: Al Moro is very traditional and is well known for the quality of its seasonal ingredients, including porcini mushrooms, wild strawberries, artichokes, and asparagus. 39/06-678-3495. By Pepi Marchetti...
Piazza Campo de' Fiori, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Like all outdoor markets in Rome, Campo de' Fiori is a bustling social center where locals push past throngs of tourists to complete their errands. Every morning you can find nonni shopping for produce with their grandchildren, feisty butchers...
Via dei Banchi Vecchi, 14, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Quietly inhabiting the lovely Via dei Banchi Vecchi, Il Goccetto (not to be confused with the Italian pro-marijuana organization by the same name) is a secret hidden in plain sight: a cozy, wood-paneled wine bar with 18th-century ceiling...
Via dei Chiavari, 34, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
One of Rome's best bakeries and among the city's most historic institutions, Antico Forno Roscioli is a family-run business. Depending on the time of day, you might find patriarch Marco or his son Pierluigi hard at work. There are a variety of...
74, Via di S. Teodoro, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Every Saturday and Sunday on Via S. Teodoro, tucked just off Circus Maximus, Rome's best farmer's market takes place. It's run by Campagna Amica, an Italy-wide organization that promotes local, sustainable agriculture—so all of the products sold...
Borgo S. Frediano, 167R, 50124 Firenze FI, Italy
IO Osteria Personale is a small, elegant, and innovative restaurant in Florence. It's a foodie's delight, with an à la carte menu of meat, seafood, and vegetarian dishes, but no pasta! You can choose three or five dishes plus dessert to create...
Via dei Giubbonari, 21/22, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
The Roscioli family, famous for their nearby bakery Antico Forno Roscioli, opened this restaurant/wine bar/gourmet shop in 2005. Book several days in advance for lunch or dinner and be sure to request a ground floor table near the back of the...
Piazza Santo Spirito, 16/R, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
I love Florence: it's one of my favorite cities in Italy and in the world. But, the downside is that it can get ridiculously crowded. In fact, the last time I visited it was so crowded on the 'main side' of Florence, where the Duomo and all of the...
Via della Chiesa, 16/r, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
This authentic neighborhood bar, Il Chicco di Caffè (aka Lola’s), is run by Maurizio whose Mom, Lola, cooks for a truly egalitarian mix of local artisans, staff from the nearby Gucci headquarters, students and people like me (I live next door!) at...
Via di S. Chiara, 34, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Wandering down the small via S. Chiara I spotted this shop that makes vestments for the Pope. I was tempted to go in and order a pair of red shoes but thought better of it. Since 1798 the Gammarelli family have been outfitting popes, bishops and...
8, Via del Piè di Marmo, 7, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Federico Polidori makes hand crafted leather bags, saddles, belts, wallets and other accessories in his small shop in Rome's historical center. In addition to items displayed in the workshop, Polidori will also make custom objects.
Vicolo dei Serpenti, 13, 00184 Roma RM, Italy
Cristina Venezia's shop in Rome's Monti district is a treasure trove of artisanal objects. Shop for stunning hand-painted ceramics—which she sources from small artisanal studios all over Italy—and be sure to check out her own creations: scarves...
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