New Opera Duomo Museum - a spectacular museum!

It was already one of my favourite museums - then they decided to close for another restauration, they just reopened on Oct 29th 2015 and I have to admit that I have almost cried... it is so intense, moving, beautiful and worth-seeing museum! The best.

Opera of Duomo opens in 1891 to host the Pieta of Michelangelo, without a home... then it became the deposit of many many sculptures, paintings, sacred objects - that were before kept inside the Cathedral or inside the Baptistry, and then got replaced by more modern pieces.

Ancient Façade Room

Arnolfo di Cambio, the main architect of the Cathedral, started the works on September 8th 1296 - and he worked also to the main façade. Unfortunately he died before the Cathedral and the façade were finished (poor destiny for medieval architects... they never survived to their projects!)
In 1587 the façade was totally demolished, and finally accomplished only in 1881!
Did you know that our façade was so young?

So, they have reconstruct a 1:1 scale façade with the original statues... it represents the ancient space between Cathedral doors and Baptistry - so if you turn around you will admire also the beautiful gilded bronze doors by Ghiberti!
It is a magnificent setting, a moving room, you will find yourself in tears. Outstanding

Virgin Mary with brilliant eyes

The Paradise Gate - Lorenzo Ghiberti
Ancient Façade Room

Beheading of St. John the Baptist - Rustici

Detail of Paradise Gate - Mosé

Donatello's Magdalene and Michelangelo's Pietà

On the ground floor you will admire 2 incredibly intense statues: the wood Magdalene by Donatello, founded lost in the desert after years of wandering, she was devasted, skinny, her clothes were destroyed... she is surprised to see you, and she opens a bit her mouth. A superb and moving representation of Magdalene

And what about the Pietà by Michelangelo? He sculpted this statue at 70 years old, tired, sick, and in deep personal crisis - it was intended for his personal tomb, so it is maybe the most personal Pietà by this great artist. Before it was finished, tired of a very hard marble, he started to destroy the Pietà with an hammer, smashing totally the left leg of Jesus....

Magdalene - Donatello

Pietà - Michelangelo

Cantorie Room and Cupola construction

On the first floor you will admire many other rooms, especially the Cantorie Room, where you can find the two balconies used by the singers of the Cathedral made by Luca della Robbia and Donatello.

And the Cupola room, the Genius of Brunelleschi that built the biggest self-standing dome without scaffolding support, which is even nowadays a not understandable work.

Visit the Musem of Opera Duomo, it is incredibly beautiful - open on Mondays, when all the States museums such as Uffizi, Accademia, Pitti Palace are closed.

For private tours with me write me at elisaacciai@libero.it

Opera Duomo Museum
Duomo Square, 9
Open daily 9 am to 7 pm

Cantoria - Luca della Robbia

Cantoria - Donatello


My personal Tripadvisor - Restaurants in Florence

Tripadvisor is the most utilized way to check out Hotels and Restaurants; at least to have an idea of the type of place, where is located and see some photos. I do it myself too, and I also write feedbacks. But somehow you also have to be careful with Tripadvisor, cause not always it reflects the reality, especially when it comes to “where you are listed as position”.

So, since you often ask my opinion on where you sleep and eat, here’s my personal list

My favourite restaurants in Florence and surroundings

Tripadvisor – mmmm for the restaurants section I do not entirely agree ! The first 20/30 places are ice cream places (Gelateria) and sandwich stands where it is a miracle if you have a stool – no problem with sandwich and icecream ,  but how can you call these places “restaurants”??? And it is not just matter of personal taste, the 3 stars Michelin Enoteca Pinchiorri is at 115 position, Ora d’Aria (also Michelin star) at 429!! They are not among my favourite either, but it is out of discussion that those are excellent places..... 

My favourite places are normally easy going Trattorias where the relationship between quality/quantity and price is very good – I like to eat, I love going out for dinner, and for me this is a big part of a trip. You will find in my list also some gourmet place, but in general I’m not that type of person, I enjoy fine dining, but it is kind of too much, especially the too formal atmosphere.

Then another aspect to clarify – all of you ask me “I don’t want a tourist place” – I understand you wish a place where you do not have a fix menu with photos and 200 languages, or those creapy buffet places, but if you mean “I don’t want to hear English speaking” well, this is NOT POSSIBLE. Not even out of the city center. So, I will tell you places very good, very friendly, excellent wine list but for sure you will find tourists, Florence is full of tourists, luckily, and Florentines are rare as pandas... 
Divided by category, and approx the order is what I prefer:

So easy going places, typical, casual, Tuscan food, some will reflect the stereotypical idea of Tuscany, some have a modern twist – price range 35-70 Euro

Touch Florence - my number one right now - fresh tuscan cuisine, with a superb presentation and a TOP service, high level - small, intimate, out of the tourist path, local. Open just for dinner, in the morning they organize private cooking classes, for small groups, with visit to the local farmers market  - Via Fiesolana, 18/red - Santa Croce area - 055 2466150
13 Gobbi - busy, lively, excellent wine list, fresh homemade pasta, open lunch and dinner - Via del Porcellana 9/red - Santa Maria Novella area - 055 284015

Buca Lapi - one the best Bistecca in town (T-Bone steak), a bit more pricey but absolutely worthed, very difficult to get reservation, open just for dinner - Via del Trebbio 1/r - Tornabuoni area - 055 213768
Cinghiale Bianco - I adore the staff, too friendly, special for wild boar, artichokes salad and Mascarpone Cream - open only for dinner during the week, on the weekend also for lunch - Borgo San Jacopo, 43 - Oltrarno area - 055 215706

Angiolino - easy, simple, nice room with enough eamong tables - open daily lunch and dinner - Via Santo Spirito 36/r - Oltrarno area - 055 2398976

Paoli - in a beautiful historical palace with frescoed ceilings and walls, an excellent choice especially for lunch since it is in the heart of downtown, where it is not easy to find a good place during your touring day - Via dei Tavolini 12/r - Signoria area - 055 216215
Sostanza (no website!) - super easy, super rustic, excellent Bistecca and artichokes omelette, only cash payment, open lunch and dinner, difficult to get a reservation - Via del Porcellana 25/red - Santa Maria Novella area - 055 212691
Pandemonio - let Mamma taking care of you, she will treat you like the typical italian mum, so filling you up with good food! Open lunch and dinner -  Via del Leone 50/red - Oltrarno area  - 055 224002

Vecchia Bettola (no website) - just outside of the historical center, typical and old fashioned style trattoria, try fried things like chicken or rabbit, open lunch and dinner -  Via Vasco Pratolini, 3 - Oltrarno area, outside of the ancient wall- 055 224158

Osteria dei Benci - super small, cute and good pasta list - open lunch and dinner - Via dei Benci 13/red - Santa Croce area - 0552344923

Fonticine - excellent Bistecca, old fashioned classic Restaurant, open lunch and dinner - via Nazionale 79/red - San Lorenzo area - 055 282106
Santo Bevitore - trendy and famous wine bar now trasformed in a trattoria, excellent wine list - open lunch and dinner, difficult to get reservation - Via Santo Spirito 64/66 red- Oltrarno area - 055 211264

Buca Mario - historical place located in the basement of a noble palace (the typical "Buca") very good service, top wine list open just for dinner - Piazza Ottaviani 16/red - Santa Maria Novella area - 055 214179

Osteria di Poneta - outside of the city center, but worthed the trip - small, warm, welcoming, excellent pasta and meat - highly recommended! Via Di Novoli, 73 - Novoli Area - Northern area of the city, not far from the airport - bus n. 22 or 10 minutes by cab from the center - 055  411082

Buca Mario - Fried Zucchini and Chicken
Touch - Ravioli with meat and creamy sauce
Sostanza - artichokes omelette
Buca Lapi - Bistecca

13 Gobbi - Gorgonzola Zucchini and Pine Nuts
Santo Bevitore - Pici al Ragout

Nice, Gourmet, Romantic, Chic

Oliviero - very intimate, classic, superb service, excellent cuisine, innovative menu but also traditional dishes, a lovely nest for a romantic dinner, I would suggest also for business dinner - open just for dinners - Via delle Terme 51/red - Tornabuoni area - 055 212421

Cestello - hip, cool, luxurious, in a very nice square, they also have an outdoor patio. A very rich menu, with a lot of fresh fish selection, also the fish market stand where you can point your choice and ask how to cook it to the Chef - open just for dinner - Piazza del Cestello  -Oltrarno area - 055 2645364

BSJ  Borgo San Jacopo - this beautiful, elegant restaurant overlooks the river Arno, and it is the best frame for a very romantic dinner. Part of the Lungarno Collection Hotels, you can feel the Ferragamo touch everywhere - open just for dinner - Borgo San Jacopo 62, Oltrarno area - 055 281661
Io Osteria Personale - very small and intimate, young and different, it will surprise you. Relaxed atmosphere, very interesting wine list - Borgo San Frediano 167/red - Oltrarno - 055 9331341
Enoteca Pinchiorri - what an experience.... it is not my number 1 only because of the price! I could only afford it few times in my life, but memories are impossible to erase. You feel like a king, in term of service and ambience, you feel in paradise in term of cuisine and WINE! Open just for dinner - jacquet is required for gentlemen -  Via Ghibellina, 87 - Santa Croce area - 055 242757

BSJ - Potatoes Variation Menu

Cestello - Fritto misto

For a quick byte, lunch, winebar

Mangiafoco - lovely, adorable, excellent wine list, tray of ham, cold cuts and cheeses but also pasta, salads, Burrata -  Borgo SS Apostoli, 26 Red - Ponte Vecchio area - 055 2658170

Le Volpi e l’Uva - small wine bar, a real wine, where you can only get a quick crostino or some ham and cheese, excellent wine list - Piazza dei Rossi, 1 - Oltrarno area, just by the Ponte Vecchio - 055 2398132
San Lorenzo Market first floor - restored in 2014, the first floor of the Market is a great place! Different stands where you can take your pizza, or pasta, or buffalo mozzarella, and then eat it in the central tables all together!  Piazza Mercato Centrale

Caffe Megara - simple bar for your lunch, sandwiches, salads but also good pasta - Via della Spada, 15 - Tornabuoni area - 055 211837
San Lorenzo Market first floor


Do you prefer the thin one or the Napoli style one, a bit thicker at the border? Here my list:
Obica Mozzarella Bar - beautiful setting and location, elegant but laid back, their best part is mozzarella! Excellent pizza but also pasta, salads, highly recommended  - Via de Tornabuoni, 16 - Tornabuoni area - 055 2773526

Osteria Caffè Italiano - the pizzeria side of the restaurant is very easy, and as far as I remember not possible to reserve - but it will be worthed :)  - Via Isole delle Stinche 11/13 red - Santa Croce area - 055 289080

Pizzaiuolo - one of the best in town! Preferred for lunch, cause they are a bit less busy...  reservation is a must - Via dè Macci, 113 - Sant'Ambrogio area - 055 241171

Vico del Carmine - the setting is a typical Napoli Street - with balconies and clothes hanged to dry up - Via Pisana 40 red - Oltrarno area, just outside the ancient wall - 055 2336862

O' Munaciello - also this place is a real jump into the South! Often with live music, very nice and excellent food -  Via Maffia 31 - Oltrarno area - 055 287198

Outside town

I wish to indicate you some names not to far from the city, maximum 15 minutes drive.

Casa del Prosciutto (Fiesole) - simple, family style, to reach it just pass the town of Fiesole, you will find it on the main street. Excellent Prosciutto and Salumi, and of course meat. Cheap! Via dei Bosconi, 58 - Fiesole 055 548830

Da Tullio (Montebeni, near Fiesole) - into a little Borgo of few houses, it is hidden this lovely place, where I had the best fried chicken, rabbit and vegetables in my life. Perfect for a Sunday lunch out of the hustle and bustle of the city - Via Ontignano, 48 - Fiesole 055 697354

Omero (Pian dei Giullari) - just above the Piazzale Michelangelo, an historical trattoria where you can taste the best grilled meat and chicken - views on the city - Via del Pian dei Giullari, 47 Firenze - 055 220053

Casa del Prosciutto - Gorgeous Tortelli 

Da Tullio - Antipasto misto
Would you like some tips also for hotels? Here they are :)


My personal Tripadvisor - Hotels in Florence

Tripadvisor is the most utilized way to check out Hotels and Restaurants; at least to have an idea of the type of place, where is located and see some photos. I do it myself too, and I also write feedbacks. But somehow you also have to be careful with Tripadvisor, cause not always it reflects the reality, especially when it comes to “where you are listed as position”.

So, since you often ask my opinion on where you should sleep and eat, here’s my personal list. Today we talk about Hotels, next post about Restaurants.

My favourite Hotels in Florence
For Hotels, I have to say , Tripadvisor’s list is not too bad, but these are my choices:

Luxury 5 Stars

Jk Place – in the beautiful Santa Maria Novella square, a boutique Hotel with a superb design, classy and modern at the same time
Portrait Firenze – the new born of the Ferragamo chain (Lungarno Collection)- unbeatable location (right in front of Ponte Vecchio) top service very personalized and friendly for this boutique Hotel

St. Regis – classic, faboulous, just been refurbished – a bit more out of the tourist path, in Piazza Ognissanti, which is a 15 minutes walking from Ponte Vecchio and Cathedral Square
Villa Cora – on the hills of Florence, if you want to escape from the chaos and breath the Tuscan hills air, a beautiful Villa just restored
St Regis
Villa Cora

Portrait Firenze

4 Stars

Plenty of choice here...classic Renaissance Style, modern, cozy, big... look what’s better for you in term of location, style and of course the car – Florence is a nightmare for driving, in case you need to park your car chose a place that can take care of your car, or get out of the city centre and then move around by bus or taxi

Hotel Lungarno – almost a five stars I have to say, in terms of service and price, but if you can get (and afford) a room overlooking the river it will be your dream becoming true- also part of the Ferragamo chain (Lungarno Collection), classy and beautiful
Antica Torre Tornabuoni – very nice, and excellent location, on Via Tornabuoni, the shopping street

Hotel Santa Maria NovellaHotel OrologioGrand Hotel Minerva – the 3 are located in one of my favourite square, Santa Maria Novella, central, close to the train station and magnificent; each one is different, all are recommendable, the Minerva has a pool on top of the roof.
All 3 are easy accesible by car.

Hotel Continentale and Gallery Hotel Art – best location, next to Ponte Vecchio, both owned by Lungarno Collection/Ferragamo – super hip and stylish, with the best roof terrace bar (at Continentale) and the most incredible sushi and cocktails at Fusion (Gallery).
Hotel Albani – close to the train station, but in a quiet Street, near the San Lorenzo Market and Santa Maria Novella.

Hotel Degli Orafi – between the Uffizi and Ponte Vecchio, where the “a Room with a view” was shot… super central, maybe not too easy by car.

Hotel l'Orologio
Pool at Santa Maria Novella

Hotel Lungarno
3 Stars

This is the minimum of stars you want to get – there are so many options, but the best recommended also by my Clients are:

Hotel Guelfo Bianco, in Via Cavour, charming  Renaissance style, 2 minutes from Accademia

Hotel David , in Viale Michelangelo, excellent if you get by car, in a very elegant residential area of Florence, just outside of the city center 

Hotel Davanzati, in Via Porta Rossa, next to one of my favourite museum, the Davanzati House

Palazzo Guadagni, in Piazza Santo Spirito, a lively and authentic square on the other side of the river, magnificent historical building

Palazzo Niccolini al Duomo, in Via dei Servi, in the shades of the main Dome

Residence Hilda , also in via dei Servi, elegant apartments

Hotel Annalena, in Via Romana, the other side of the river, perfect to visit Boboli Gardens and Pitti Palace
Hotel Macchiavelli, in Via Nazionale, between the SMN Station and San Lorenzo area
Hotel Guelfo Bianco
Palazzo Guadagni

Then, what about B&B?  Oh men, too many!

I hope this post can help you :)  and once you have reserved.... book a tour with Elaiza!  
Next post, my favourite restaurants! Stay tuned

 You wish some suggestion also for restaurants? Here it is


Picasso and Spanish Modernity at Palazzo Strozzi

If you are in Florence between September 20th 2014 and January 25th 2015 and you feel like step for a second out of the "Renaissance cradle"  you should go to Palazzo Strozzi and check this exhibition out, dedicated to Pablo Picasso.

All the masterpieces, over 80, are coming all by Reina Sogia Museum in Madrid.

There is a lot of Picasso paintings, like 3 "Painter and Model", "Dora Maar" and other lovers' portraits, a really interesting settings of his preparatory drawings, engravins and etchings of Guernica.

Then Salvador Dalì faboulous "Arlequin" , Mirò, Juan Gris, Marie Blanchard.....

Open daily from 10,00 am to 08,00 pm, Thursdays until 11,00 pm

Obviously, a visit with me, maybe part of a walking tour, will be an excellent solution :)

Contact me at elisaacciai@libero.it

Enjoy it!

Pablo Picasso - neosnet.it

Guernica sketches - ilreporter.it
The painter and the model - weekendromanticotoscana.info
Dora Maar and Marie Therese - Firenze.repubblica.it

Equipe 57 and Salvador Dalì - toctocfirenze.it


Florence Bike Tour with Elaiza, me :)

Florence is a quaint city, with a pretty small city center that allows you to visit the main sights just walking from a place to another, in a short time.
But still, having a bike would be a fantastic way to enjoy the beautiful palaces, churches, Piazzas, Lungarni (the streets along the river Arno are called Lungarni)...

The best way is to rent a bike for a couple of hours or more in case you wish to go also to the hills (for example Piazzale Michelangelo and San Miniato al Monte Church).

Where? I wish to suggest you a couple of places:

Bici In Firenze is a service organized by the Comune di Firenze (city hall of Florence) and it is located in front of Santa Maria Novella train station or in Piazza Ghiberti.

The other one is Florence By Bike, located in Via San Zanobi

Bikes of Bici in Firenze
So, rent a bike of course, but call also Elaiza, which is the best way to tour around the city!
I could come to your Hotel downtown and pick you up, or we could meet somewhere - we will go to rent the bikes together and we will start a fantastic tour through the medieval streets of Florence, for the most part pedestrian.
We can lock our bikes and visit the inside of Santa Trinita Church, or Orsanmichele, or wherever you want, I'm open to discuss the itinerary with you.

on the way to Santissima Annunziata

On a bike tour with me we will certainly see:

Cathedral Square and Brunelleschi's Dome

Signoria Square

Ponte Vecchio

Repubblica Square

Strozzi Palace

Santa Trinita

Pitti Palace

Santa Maria Novella Square

Santa Croce Square

The nice weather and the Tuscan sun are coming, book a bike tour with Elaiza :)

Santa Croce

Cathedral Square

San Lorenzo

Repubblica Square

Santa Trinita

Palazzo Antinori

Palazzo Spini Feroni

Palazzo Strozzi


Santa Maria Novella


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