Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Florence - To Do 15April2017 (Florence, Fischetteria Nuvoli, Domo, Streets, Market Centrale, Trattoira Za Za,Iconic Ponte Vecchio,Boboli Gardens Ticket,il Magazzino,Fontanna del Porcellino,Trattoria La Carabaccia, Day Trip out To Pisa,

Florence - To Do
Florence - To Eat 

Italy Multiple Hop Holiday Starting from Rome
5Day4Night Itenary Rome (part1/3)
Train to Florence 

4Day3Night Itenary Florence (part2/3)
Train to Naples

4Day3Night Itenary Naples (part3/3)
Flight To Milan and back to Singapore.

Continued from 5Day4Night Itenary Rome (part1/3)

Day5 15April Sat (Florence)
0950Train from Roma Termini to Firenze S.M.Novella 11:22 Arrival 47Euros total for 2.

Checking into Hotel Grand Adriatico and exploring around Florence
. Hotel has free fast wifi and it's a short 5min walk from the central train station.
*Simple breakfast provided in the morning*
Click here for ABBA location of Hotel Grand Adriatico 

Lunch at Osteria - Fischetteria Nuvoli
Click here for ABBA location of Osteria - Fischetteria Nuvoli
A stone's throw away from Duomo, this hole in the wall place comes recommended online for their crostini sampler. The place where locals come to for a wine and lunch.

The underground cantina has been family run since 1986 and the small space is cozy and really adds to the atmosphere as each turns brings you to yet another room.

Ordered On:
Crostini Misti €4
Crostini topped with chicken liver pâté, sautéed mushrooms, truffle share or salsa and mozzarella.
*A fun sampling with the truffle and liver pate taking the win.
A bargain order for some truffle and the selection of crustiness.*

Wide Strip Pasta with Beef and Boar Sauce €6
*Oversized pasta with nice, meaty beef bits. Portions are huge and definitely for two to share.*
Sedanini Pasta with tomato sauce, bacon and ham. €6
*Ikea pasta to go. That's what it sums up as. Simple pasta that's slightly over cooked with a light sauce coating.*
Quick bites for on-the-go parties. The pastas are okay done with preference leaning in favor of the wide strip pasta. For their cheap eats, huge portions and cozy setting, it's worth a pop in for their crostini samplers and a drink. The single serve portions could have easily fed two.

Although the eats weren't Phenomenal, the whole experience of discovering a new section and dining area was the real takeaway. Good local, cozy dining experience for cheap. Worth a visit for some local, down to earth authenticity.
Click here for ABBA location of Osteria - Fischetteria Nuvoli

Domo - Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
Click here for ABBA location of Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore 
Free to enter. Although the queue to enter the cathedral itself seems long, but it's a fast moving queue and clearing in about 5mins. I must say of all the large cathedrals, the interior of Florence Domo pales in comparison to many others. The exterior is far more impressive than the inside.
The rest of Domo with high vantage points are on restricted visitation basis and ticketed. €15euros covers all but each of the 'attractions' requiring long queuing times to enter.
Click here for ABBA location of Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore 

Roaming the streets of Florence
In comparison to Rome, the streets here are paved and much easier to walk. There's loads of boutique shops along the way, which are really nice to pop into. However their leather products do get a little repetitive after awhile. The vibe is more casual in comparison to Rome. 
Market Centrale
The lower floor is where the working market is. The place offers decent deals for preserved meats and its better to explore this place in the morning. It's pretty reminiscent of the Central market in Sao Paulo.
The second floor is where the party's at. It's like Pasarbella in Singapore. A fantastic mix of artisan eats from all over. The Abre Combrie and Fitch of market eats, with beautiful people manning the stalls. Worth to grab a cold one and a bite as well.
Click here for ABBA location of Market Centrale

Dinner at Trattoira Za Za
Recommended by friend who was in Florence a few days ahead. The interior is eclectic and pleasant to dine in.   
*Another taste like it looks. Nothing interesting, just needing some vegetables in the diet*
Florentine T-bone steak at €38 per kg. Ordered 1kg size the minimum order.
Its c
onsidered fairly priced as the Central market was charging €58 a cut and another place €40 a kg. 
*The star and what florentine is known for. Beautiful charring and a perfect medium rare. Even the picture captures a dream like state of pure beauty. The marbling is great and that char flavor goes beautiful with the velvety smooth mash potatoes. Am going to try to prepare mash that way as well. The light squeeze of lemon helps cut through the heavy greasiness. A beautiful cut.*
Tiramisu €5
*Good tiramisu and what was interesting was the coffee chocolate mix dusting over to give it that kick. Nice way to end of a great meal.*
Total fed 2 at €56.50
A great cut of meat and near city attractions, one's gotta try the steak here. The pastas look good too, but it's way too much with any additional orders. Worth to have the florentine steak here for the ambience, service and good cook. A must try!
Located just 68m outside of Centrale Market. Click here for ABBA location of Trattoira Za Za

Day6 16 Easter Sunday
Iconic Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge)
Originally butchers occupied the shop lots, but are now replaced with various boutiques that come alive later in the day.  
Click here for ABBA location of Ponte Vecchio

Boboli Gardens Ticket
Entry for all attraction 7Euros
Click here for ABBA location of Boboli Gardens
The ticket grants entry into Boboli Gardens, Bardini Garden (Best vantage point for panorama shots of Florence) and a mix (costume, silverworks, porcelain) of smaller galleries within the compound.

There are several entry points which grants access to all the above attractions. Some far less crowded than others. The main entrance from Palazzo Pitti is the longest, as its a direct path from Ponte Vecco bridge. At the other end of Boboli gardens it's significantly shorter. (as seen about 11am).
To save time, one might want to try to gain access via Bardini gardens as you can enter from there and carry on from the back entrance to Boboli Gardens.

Baridini Gardens
Boboli gardens though large and impressive, Baridini Gardens is the one with the stellar view of Domo. Beautiful panoramic views and a cafe at the top for a lovely day out. Be prepared from some stair master exercise as a high look point doesn't come freely.

Lunch at il Magazzino
(12-3pm) (7.30-11pm)
250m from Boboli gardens

Click here for ABBA location of il Magazzino
From online sources, *this is the place to sample gourmet versions of Florence's street food in a sit down Osteria setting. Osteria in Italian means simple or inexpensive cafe.  (Avoid the steak) Stick to pastas and organ meats.*
Ordered On:
Carpaccio di Lingua €8 (Classic florence dish)

Veal tongue salad.

*Nothing special. The meat does have a little gamey taste to it. The salad needs a little help for salt and balsamic.*
Ravioli di Lampredotto con Cipolla di Tropea €13 (Classic Florence dish)
Tripe Ravioli.

Huge serving size. The wrapping is a little thick and the tripe once processed can't really be distinguished from other meats. It taste like a regular meat ravioli. Large and filling.*
Ossobuco di Vitella €15

*Something different. Preference would be for it to be braised longer in a tomato based sauce. The marrow are worth the work to get to, but other than that, the sauce is like primary school canteen brown sauce.*
An okay place but will probably not return. Traditional florentine street eats, elevated a notch just aren't the flavor profile we were accustomed to.
Total Fed2 at €42

Fontanna del Porcellino
Like Rome's Trevi fountain where one throws a coin into the waterfall to make sure one will revisit Rome once more, *the Visitors to Il Porcellino put a coin into the boar's gaping jaws, with the intent to let it fall through the underlying grating for good luck, and they rub the boar's snout to ensure a return to Florence. This has kept the snout in a state of polished sheen while the rest of the boar's body has patinated to a dull brownish-green.* - wikipedia

Dinner at Ristorante Trattoria La Carabaccia
Recommended by the hotel staff for their pasta. Located 240m away.

Click here for ABBA location of Ristorante Trattoria La Carabaccia, Via Palazzuolo (Inizio Via Il Prato), 50123 Firenze, Italy The setting is pretty nice actually. A little dimly lit but all to set the mood. The place offers a complimentary house prosecco to whet one's appetite.
Ordered On:
Seafood Salad

*I was expecting something fried, but its pretty much a mix of fresh seafood atop plain lettuce, drizzle with olive oil and seasoned with some salt. When in Italy, I'll be sticking to their cured meat salads or caprese salad. Seafood was alright, but the lack of dressing and choice of vegetables has more to be desired.*
Mushroom Risotto

*I think they use the fresh mushrooms for their risotto, hence the flavors aren't as strong. Good and filling, but the rice is a little gritty in my opinion. Slightly undercooked.
Seafood Linguine

*The linguine was good, with a hearty serving of ingredients. A little on the salty side, but the flaovours were great. Unfortunately, they were the same ingredients and cook style for the seafood salad served previously, so it probably delivered less omph. So go for either order but not both.*
 Fed 2 at 47.50Euros
Alright place for pasta at best. 
Day7 17April2017 Mon  
Pisa Day Trip out From Florence (1:00-1:15hr trip out)

Since already in Florence, one definitely needs to take a day trip out to the world famous leaning tower of Pisa.

Total cost of self guided day trip tour to Pisa at €42.80. This is inclusive of return train tickets to Florence.

Getting there
Self-purchase train tickets from the train station to Pisa Centrale. That gets you an open ticket for any train to Pisa at a flat rate of €8.40per pax each way. Remember to validate tickets prior boarding. (train staff are on hand to assist you.)
We caught the 0805hrs train out of Florence and arriving at Pisa Centrale at about 0920hrs.
It's a 22min walk from the station to the leaning tower of Pisa. The Pisa itself is not free to hike up and requires timed ticket entries which are limited. Arriving at 10am, only 1215hr ticket onwards were available and from 1330hrs onwards, only 1800hrs onward tickets were available.

Tickets are charged at €18 a person and with limited slots and different time intervals daily.
Theres also a €8 ticket that one can purchase to grant one into three attractions of choice located around the leaning tower itself.
3 attractions for €8

We only chanced upon a staff demonstrating it's unique acoustics properties which were beyond amazing. A single voice somehow became a choir. Beautiful.


*Cemetery grounds*
Well worth to add on to your day trip out to Pisa.

Lunch at Ristorante Pizzeria Duomo

Closest to the leaning tower of PISA (180m), opens 24hrs and ranked 4.0 based on 38 reviews in google. Free Wifi on site.
 Ordered On:
Taglioni Salmon €10

*Pretty alright. Salmon chunks could be larger but other than that it's a tummy filler.*
Calzone (pomodoro, mozzarella, prosciutto, funghi €8

*A total disappointment. The pizza was undercooked and the filling luke warm at best. The only saving grace was that we weren't charged for the calzone order. Some service recovery.*
Fed2 at €16.50

As many of the restaurants open only at 12/1230 this was a convenient option for a pit stop. A quick eat-and-go place to suit our timed visit to Pisa at 1300hrs.
Click here for ABBA location of Ristorante Pizzeria Dumo
Tower of Pisa
- Go early and get your preferred time slot.
- Drop of your backpacks in the coat room prior and start queuing 10mins before the allocated time.
- Be prepared for lots of steps to get to the very top.

For €18 n the offset it may seem a steep price just to hike up the leaning tower. However, given that it was blocked from the public for over a decade in order to give way for restoration works and deemed safe again, and being able to climb up such a historic structure, it is quite remarkable and a fairly decent charge. 
The view is just as rewarding. The top most is fairly reminiscent to San Francisco's Coit tower(has a lift to bring you to the top).
Click here for ABBA location of Pisa
Return journey at 1432hrs to enjoy the rest of Florence.
Dinner at Peperonicino
170m from Hotel Adriatico

300+ ranked on trip advisor Florence and came highly recommended by the hotel.
A local joint away from tourist restaurants.
Ordered On:


Caprese Salad 9Euros

*Pretty standard fair and a money maker. Cheese, some herb and tomatoes.
Florentine Steak for 2 50euros

*The char flavor really shines through over here and its a beautiful medium rare. Not as much fat distribution as would be preferred but the meat is sweetest around the bone. Well seasoned and served on a heated plate to ensure the flavors are best experienced to its maximum potential. Table side song and dance is included for the huge serving of meat.*
Fed2 at 71Euros

Is this place's Florentine steak better than Za Za reviewed above? Well meat to meat comparison, ignoring price point, Za Za does have a fattier cut. However, the cook at Peperonicino is much better, with more char flavor and serving it on a heated plate definitely prolongs the maximum flavor of the meat. The place, as shared by hotel staff is also known for Pastas as well. However in both instances, have yet to try them.

Peperonicino is a good, off the main tourist joint to have a meal after some shopping in town or if staying near Hotel Adriatico.

However, the overall dining experience and cheaper price tag of 12Euros for the steaks, I'd definitely give  Trattoira Za Za reviewed above (only if in the area). Pasta have yet to be sampled in either location.

Florence a day trip or 2 or more? 

Florence is a really nice place visit, but a single day trip could actually cover most of the city center and only some of the attractions like Domo from the outside. Pretty much everything is within a 15-20min walking distance of the main train station.

As there aren't that many attractions in Florence itself, the ticked ones do have long queues that can put a strain on what you might want to cover. Best for 2D1N to get the most out of Florence itself with some ticketed entrances and enjoy some shopping in the city.

We in fact had another day stay in Florence to take it easy and use Florence as a base for a day trip out to Pisa and later return to enjoy the rest of the city. (Pisa day trip reviewed below)

Day 8 18 Tue Travel Day to Naples
0938am departure Arrival 12:35 109.80€ for 2
4Day3Night Itenary Naples (part3/3)

Entire Trip
5Day4Night Itenary Rome (part1/3)
Train to Florence
4Day3Night Itenary Florence (part2/of3)
Train to Naples

4Day3Night Itenary Naples (part3/3)
Flight From Naples To Milan and back to Singapore.


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