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Commentary & Misc.

This still cracks me up every time I read it - mostly I think because it really is accurate! I just got one of those robot emails from TripAdvisor trying to get me to add more reviews to their site (no thanks!) and of course they mention a couple of places that completely fit the bill for this satire:

"What a find! It's just an incredibly predictable little trattoria, right in the middle of the noisiest, most touristy section of the city. It was actually the first place we went to in Florence, believe it or not: We just kind of stumbled across it about 12 feet from our hotel. But boy, were we glad we did! It was like stepping into a much, much less satisfying version of an excellent trattoria. In fact, we ended up having dinner there every night, because we were too scared to actually wander outside our comfort zone and explore all of the amazing stuff that ancient city had to offer."

There is really a lot of pedestrian food in the center of Florence (along with a lot of great food of course) - do yourself the favor of seeking out something better when you are there (you can get some ideas here).

How to Spend One Day in Florence

Published on September 10, 2013 12:16 PM | Comments

September 10th, 2013: Ellen wrote this nearly 8 years ago - I am updating it with some fresh links and some new dining tips (at the end). If you see a "note:" or "tip" that is also something that has been updated.

My brother emailed and said he has a friend who's taking the train from Rome to Florence for the day. She was looking for suggestions about the best way to spend one day in Florence, where to go, where to eat, etc. Here's what I said:

It's hard to give advice to someone I don't know because I don't know what type of traveller they are, but if it was me I would:

baptistry-at-night.jpg1) take the 10 minute walk from the train station to the Duomo. Here you could: a) go into the cathedral (Santa Maria del Fiore), b) climb to the top of the Dome, c) climb to the top of the Campanile or d) go into the Baptistry (above) --- my choice would be to go into the Baptistry which is just beautiful with bronze doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti (note: you need a ticket for the Baptistry - info on tickets, hours, prices etc. for the Baptistry and the rest of the Duomo complex is here).

Festa della Liberazione - Liberation Day in Italy

Published on April 24, 2013 7:06 PM | Comments

Tomorrow is "Festa della Liberazione" or "Liberation Day in Italy", the day that commemorates the fall of Mussolini and the freeing of Italy by the Italian Partisans and Allied Forces (brief background here).

I wonder if Italians are finding it a little bittersweet this year considering all of the political strife that is enveloping the country at the moment? It also makes me as an American a little nostalgic for times when we could do things right too - like lead the liberation of Europe from the Nazis and Fascists...

Italian Flag

Billionaire throws wedding party in Piazza Ognissanti

Published on April 18, 2013 2:12 PM | Comments

ognissanti-gazebo.JPGThe scope of this thing is pretty amazing - a temporary structure filling the whole square, surrounded by live plants and security men dressed in black. Turns out it is all for a wedding for a billionaire's daughter in the plastics industry. Seems sort of ostentatious in today's world (especially for this country with all of the political and social problems of the moment), but this is probably not much compared to what the Medici and others used to pull off for their own weddings back in the day :)

Dear Florence, we need more places to sit!

Published on April 9, 2013 2:39 PM | Comments

I guess I really should be writing to Mayor Renzi (and maybe I will after I get my thoughts together on this), but I wanted to put it down here first - a discussion (complaint?) of a what to me is a major problem with Florence as a tourist city:

Dear Florence, we need more places to sit!

Since my arrival here in 2005, Florence has become less and less hospitable to people who need a place to simply sit down in public. From the cordoning off of the steps of the Palazzo Vecchio with planters, the arbitrary roping off of the steps of the Duomo, and now, after what seems to have been a half baked and poorly executed renovation of Piazza Santa Maria Novella (breaking or broken benches and dead, poorly installed grass), the enclosing of the lawn spaces there with thorny bushes - no doubt chosen to keep people off the grass.

In a small, walkable city (a place that almost demands you to walk as it becomes more crowded and more and more streets are closed to traffic) the option to just sit down somewhere for a minute is going in the wrong direction. In the very center, where most tourists (and Italians who work there) actually spend the bulk of their time, the opportunity to simply sit down has been greatly decreased in the last few years, where an increase is what is obviously needed. I can think of only a couple of benches added to the rear of the Duomo, and the base of the column in Piazza Santa Trinita as "new" places to sit, while those listed above have greatly decreased the chance to sit down for a break (or worse - to picnic!).

Piazza Santa Maria Novella

Especially grievous is the new loss of the lawn in Piazza Santa Maria Novella. I would guess that this has been an open space for at least a thousand years, and yet someone, somehow, in 2013, has decided to put a barrier of thorny bushes up so people can no longer access the lawn (as if this will work anyway - it is an open invitation to end up with a messy hedge full of holes!). Considering it is was the only open green space in the very center of the city (Piazza San Marco has some very small patches of grass, and Piazza dell'Indipendenza is not really in the "tourist" center) where you could actually sit or lie down on grass, tourists and locals alike have just suffered a major loss.

Someone in the city administration needs to start thinking about these issues, of giving people in Florence a chance to sit down, and the trend of taking spaces away from the public and public use needs to be reversed.

A little bit of Philadelphia in Florence

Published on March 23, 2013 12:08 AM | Comments

We received a gracious invite from the U.S. Consulate to a reception in honor of the U.S. Conference of Mayors which is taking place in and around Florence this week. Ellen got a picture with her home town mayor (and President of the United States Conference of Mayors) Michael Nutter of Philadelphia:

Also attending were the Mayor of Mesa, Arizona & Vice President of the Conference of Mayors Scott Smith, the Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky Greg Fischer, the Mayor of Indianapolis, Indiana Greg Ballard, the Mayor of Columbia, South Carolina Steve Benjamin, and CEO & Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Tom Cochran.

I would like to thank the Consul General of the United States of America in Florence, Sarah C. Morrison, and her staff for the opportunity to attend this event.

The Ides of March

Published on March 15, 2013 10:58 AM | Comments

Death of Caesar

So the new Florence Journal is launched - on the Ides of March! Will this be the death of Florence Journal?

There is still a lot to do around here - add a search box, newsletter sign up, social networking and sharing tools, etc. It will all be coming "subito" as they say here in Italy. For now, you can poke around and be frustrated by all the broken links :)

If you see a commenting system below (by Disqus) please feel free to say something so I can test the thing out. Thanks -

St. Valentines at the St. Regis Florence

Published on January 30, 2013 4:51 PM | Comments


Summer hiatus

Published on July 8, 2012 5:49 PM | Comments

We are out of Florence for July and August, and while we will still be posting new things (and trying to catch up on some old ones) and updating the calendar of events, there probably won't be as much updating on Florence Journal as usual until we are back in September.

Happy Valentine's Day

Published on February 14, 2012 8:01 AM | Comments

The "Favorites of Florence" posting is on hold at the moment (as was dream for a blog post a day!) - we have family coming in and then we'll be taking a trip for a week and too much other work has to get done before that. I guess regular blogging will resume near the end of March.

It has been bitterly cold here in Florence but the next few days look to be above freezing - the Arno is iced over in spots - hopefully I will get a couple of pictures of that today.

If you are looking for a last minute place to have dinner with your Valentine, the St. Regis has an offer:


All entries in Commentary & Misc. (alphabetical listing)