Thursday, April 18, 2013

Views of Florence and A Snack, of Course!

Pondering Life Over Some Chianti in San Niccolo
Photo Copyright Toni Mazzaglia, 2007
The rain seems to have finally subsided after a long, wet winter. Today, the sky is a vibrant blue, and the air is clean and crisp.

Days like these are perfect for going up to Piazzale Michelangelo for scenic Florence views- and why not bring a picnic?

And if you're really hardcore, keep climbing and go all the way up to San Miniato al Monte (really gorgeous church- awesome afternoon light for photos- and the monks chant usually around 4-6pm).

Here's a quick video I made back in my geobeats days (still one of my favorite jobs ever!).

Video of Piazzale Michelangelo

If you're going to have a picnic for lunch, consider going to Mercato Sant'Ambrogio (on the East side of the city) or Mercato Centrale (Northwest, near the central station). Both are open only till 2pm, and closed on Sundays. Here's a video of Mercato Centrale, way back when the upstairs was still open. Sigh, the good ol days... Central and San Lorenzo Markets Video

You can pick up salumi (prosciutto, salame, even bresaola...), cheeses, breads, fruits and veggies... and even a bit of water and wine to quench your thirst. Please use a cup to drink your wine. I find nothing more painful than seeing civilized human beings drinking wine straight from the bottle (it has to breath, people!).

If you prefer a relaxing afternoon/evening visit (sans heavy backpack) to the square for views of the city, and maybe a bite to eat, consider taking the stairs down into San Niccolo after you've taken in the views of Florence.

You will find the long staircase tucked between the two bars located on the Eastern side of the square.

Walk down, then continue descending and stop on the left at Fuori Porta for wine and a snack or meal, or continue through the large door of the old wall and duck in to Zeb for outstanding pastas, soups, and more- or visit any of the other places in San Niccolo (like Rifrullo which is almost always open and serving something... even brunch on Sundays... see il Rifrullo here: Il Rifrullo).

If you head around the corner from Zeb (toward a little red church) you'll find a square with a strange glass gazebo. Behind that square is the famous Negroni bar, where the Negroni cocktail was born.

See this video to learn how to make a Negroni and impress your friends: How to Make a Negroni Cocktail

In the warmer months, outdoor cafes will be set up along the river- one near the gazebo, another right on the banks of the river. If you're looking for the summer movida, that's where you'll find it (and tons of locals and students).

It is worth taking the time to cross over the river, to the Oltrarno (the other side of the Arno) for the views and for San Niccolo... not to mention the wealth of locales in Santo Spirito and San Frediano... and Porta Romana!