SPACESPACESPA March 30, 2003 - 9:26 p.m.

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How To Make Sure Your Stay In Florence Doesn't Suck
Last updated 5/18
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Go where I tell you to go in Florence!

(Or you could just do it your way and have a really shitty time.)

Chances are if you're reading my entries, you're far hipper than the average fanny-packed tourist, so I'll let you in on where to stay, eat, shop, and drink!

This page is a work in progress, so check back for added info!

Things the guides don't warn you about:

  • Mosquitos! Ok, this might seem really trivial, but it's not. Considering the fact that almost all windows are screenless, they can cover you in itchy welts rendering your vacation a visit to Dante's 9th Circle of Hell! These are resilient little fuckers! They only die in the dead of winter, so that means once the frost lifts, they're in your room buzzing around your head at 5 a.m., mysteriously biting parts of your body well-covered by blankets! Florentines are big fans of the Vape (pronounced VAH-peh, ask for it at any hardware store or supermarket), which is a little chemical-emitting thing that you plug into the wall. Prolonged use probably causes cancer and produces mutant babies, which is why I've installed screens, but trust me, it'll grant you a well-rested and itch-less vacation!

  • Shorts - Don't wear them. Seriously. I don't care how hot it is, don't wear 'em. You might as well slap a sign on your head that reads I'm a cliche. And I'm sure I needn't go into the ridiculous persona one projects if wearing a fanny-pack, do I?

  • Living here illegally - Ok, so the Italian government has decided that I don't have enough funk in the trunk to live here or take part in their economic community. What does this mean for someone living here for a few measly years? Virtually nothing. I see it this way: if they don't want my tax money, fuck 'em. If you want more info on making the most of being an illegal alien in Florence, email me.

Where To Sleep

Right now I don't have any info on hostels that you can't find in the guidebooks, but in the meantime, here are some fabulous pensions!

Where To Eat

This is why you came to Italy, right? And you don't want any disappointments, do you? Ok, then, listen up!

First of all, I try not to recommend places where the people have too much 'tude, I've been to all of these places at least once, and the Cheap Eats places know me by name!

Cheap Eats!

  • Fiaschetteria Balducci - Via de' Neri, 2r - Just between Santa Croce and Ponte alle Grazie you'll find this laid-back little place with both indoor and outdoor seating. They've got a great selection of salads, crostini, pasta, assagini, sandwiches, and desserts. Sadly, it isn't that close to where I work, otherwise I'd eat there every day!

  • I Fratellini - Via dei Cimatori, 38r - As you walk along Via Calzaiuoli from the Duomo to Piazza della Signoria, turn left onto Via dei Cimatori where you'll find a literal hole in the wall serving sandwiches made with warm soft rolls and all sorts of tasty fillings. I highly recommend prosciutto arrosto e salsa verde, roast ham with tangy, garlicky parsley sauce, that is. Patrons rest their wine glasses on little shelves as they eat standing on the sidewalk. If you can do without wine, take your sandwich into the Piazza and pop a squat on the ground.

  • La Focacciaria Bondi - Via del Ariento (between Via Nazionale and Via G.B. Zannoni, in the Mercato di San Lorenzo) - Take a break from looking at fake Gucci bags and have a piping hot focaccia filled with whatever your little heart desires! Pick out your toppings, watch them pile/smear them on and pop it in the oven. In two minutes, you will have a hot, melty thing too good to call a sandwich. Try the pomadori gratinati (herb-baked tomatoes) with mozzarella-- it's to die for!

  • Antico Noe - Volto di San Piero, 6r - Why do I know all the hole-in-the-walls? Because they make the best damn sandwiches, that's why! Don't confuse this with the Trattoria next-door with the same name under the same ownership. Take a gander at the long list of sandwiches and order away. They have all sorts of roasts just ready to be carved, stuffed into a fresh roll and then heated on the grill. Don't mind the wine-o types that hang out across the way. They've been there for years and they're harmless.

  • Il Pirata - Via Ginori, 56r - This kind of place is called a rosticceria meaning everything is already made and can be bought by portion or by weight. It's best suited for take-out. They usually have an assortment of pasta dishes, a couple of different roasts and stews, various salads, grilled veggies, desserts, and of course, wine. If I don't show my face in this place for more than 3 days, they begin to worry!

  • Fonte Caspian Kababs - Via Ariento (in Mercato San Lorenzo) - Ok, chances are if you're vacationing in Italy, you want Italian food, but if you're staying for a while and miss ethnic specialties, this is a great break from the usual fare. Boasting "Persian Plates" and "Greek Sandwiches", there's a nice selection here. Lots for vegetarians! Try a humus sandwich-- humus, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and three kinds of sauces served on a freshly grilled pita! They also have an assortment of sweets including Baklava.

I promise to go back and finish listing places to eat, and I will definitely include the best pizzerias, gelaterias, best places to get the most succulent Florentine steak, Grandma-cooked food, a fancy-shmancy meal, and vegetarian/vegan specialties. But for now I'm going to move on to something entirely different...

Night Spots

Initially you might think that Florence's night-life is virtually non-existent, but actually it's there, alive and pumpin' (um, sometimes)... but ya gotta know where to look for it.

  • Mayday Lounge - Via Dante Aligheri, 16r - I LOVE MAYDAY! Upon walking through the door you'll be amazed to find a relic from my generation's childhood: PONG! Yes, hooked up to a small B&W TV is Pong, which you can play for FREE! OK, that's just a mere novelty to let you know how cool they are, but the place clearly rocks. Decorated in antique radios, TVs, lamps, fans, etc, with some cool-ass lighting, this is a great place to chill out with friends or even meet some new ones. It's an interesting mix of English-speaking ex-pats, Italians, and art-skool-geeks of various nationalities. They also have some theme nights with live music and free snacks. They're in the process of building a website, where you can get all the details.

  • Montecarla - Via Bardi, 2 - Believe it or not, Florence apparently has a hipster neighborhood: San Niccolò (ooooh, watch out, LES!) Well, hip for Florence at least. Rumor has it that this leopard and oriental-print lounge with all its intimate nooks and cranies is owned by a Chinese drag queen. The real fun gets started around 2:00.

  • Cabira - Piazza Santo Spirito, 4r - This piazza's a favorite during the summer with it's live music and outdoor film screenings. But Cabira's got outdoor seating throughout spring and fall as well. Can't find a seat? Ask for your drink in a plastic cup and take it out to sit on the steps of the church or by the fountain. This piazza's also a favorite for finding hash. But the police are well aware of this, so use some common fucking sense.

  • Kikuya - Via dei Benci, 43r - This place confuses me: it's an English pub with a Japanese name and a primarily Brazilian staff. WTF? Anyway, the crowd often leaves a bit to be desired, but they dole out HUGE glasses of Sangria!

  • Joshua Tree - Via della Scala, 37 - A grungy but cozy hole in the wall where locals and their dogs come to chat and smoke. (Dogs can so smoke! this is Italy! ) But there's something about this place that sets it apart from other dives. Perhaps the music? The friendly bartenders? The functioning toilet?

  • Rex Cafe - Via Fiesolana, 15r - I highly recommend this place for an apperativo, during which there is space to sit, move around, breathe, and admire the mosaics, lights, and décor. After apperativo time, the place fills up with poseurs and drink prices go up.

  • Jame Joyce - Lungarno B. Cellini, 1r - Books & Beer... brilliant concept. A huge outdoor area and right on the river. Need I say more?

Check back soon for more info on bigger clubs where you can shake ya' groove thang, brunches to nurse your hang-over, and much more!


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