Travel doesn’t have to mean being duped by bad recommendations and spending precious vacation time (and money) on a lackluster experience. Or hearing about a not-to-be-missed experience only after you’ve returned home. Here are a few must-misses and must-sees.
Written up in countless guidebooks as an affordable local favorite, Ristorante Il Latini is like a Florentine Medieval Times. Long lines lead to a kitschy interior where you’re served a bottomless flask of Chianti encased in straw and unmemorable food presented quickly and carelessly.
Burt Lancaster and Elizabeth Taylor partied at this American-style bar. And if lace curtains and geriatric waiters are your thing, then you may want to pay your respects. Just don’t forget your Polident.
Yes, there are outlet malls in Tuscany. And, yes, maybe a handful of days per year they have good deals on designer clothes. But more often than not you’ll find mediocre deals on fashion old enough to have been designed by the late Gianni Versace.
There are a handful of good, but not amazing, leather shops in Florence. However, with the exchange rate so much to our disadvantage, it’s not worth buying leather while you’re there. The salespeople are aggressive (sometimes even sleazy), and if you’re not careful, you may end up with a pleather jacket that disintegrates in the rain.
Florence is no Turin when it comes to chocolate, but there are still many cioccolaterie worth visiting. Don’t miss the gianduja, hazelnut-flavored chocolates, at Rivoire (Piazza della Signoria, 4r), or pretty much anything at Gilli (Piazza della Repubblica, 3r) and Ballerini Panificio Pasticceria (Borgo Ognissanti, 132r).
Northern Italy is not as well known for its sweets as Southern, but there are great biscotti, or cookies, in Tuscany. Try almond-filled cantucci alla mandorla or the aptly coined bruti ma buoni (“ugly but good” almond meringue blobs). Stop by Antico Forno Santi on Via Nazionale for these as well as biscotti al cioccolato (chocolate cookies) and cantucci all’albicocca (apricot cookies). They travel fabulously, so pack up a few kilo for your trip home.