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Bologna
Italy

C. Leather Goods is a small, handmade, leather goods business based out of Bologna, Italy.

City Guides

Italian city guides with tips for travelers that include our favorite spots for eating, drinking, and sightseeing. 

PERUGIA

Clare Hazlett

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The Perugia City Guide was created by friend, librarian, and Perugia-native, Agave Barone.

SIGHTSEEING

Piazza IV Novembre (La Fontana, Duomo S. Lorenzo and Palazzo dei Priori) - This fountain is among the best examples of medieval Italian sculpture and was created between 1278 and 1280 by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano to celebrate the completion of the new aqueduct. You'll recognize scenes of the agrarian tradition, months of the year, zodiac signs, biblical scenes, and highlights of Roman history. The three nymphs on the top represent the three theological virtues (Faith, Hope, Charity). Palazzo dei Priori is one of the most interesting examples of Gothic civil constructions in Italy. Take the steps to get in Sala dei Notari and look at the frescoes!

Collegio del cambio - If you're passionate about Renaissance art, don't miss this gem in Corso Vannucci.

Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria -  The Galleria's collection is the most exhaustive and complete of the region, both for the variety and the large number of masterpieces, from Cimabue to Pietro Vannucci (Raphael's master).

Porta Sole and Via delle Prome to Arco Etrusco & Via Battisti and the Medioeval Aqueduct - Loose yourself during the stunning walk from the romantic Porta Sole, where you can enjoy a great view of the hills and the city roofs, to the monumental arch from the 3rd century B.C., and continue on Via Battisti from whose bridge you'll see the ancient aqueduct (it brings water to the Fountain!)

Corso Vannucci - This is the most important street in the center of Perugia, connecting Piazza IV Novembre with Piazza Italia and the Giardini Carducci. 

Rocca Paolina - This fortress is a symbol of Papal power: it was built at the behest of the Pope, Paul III Farnese (1540 -1543), and designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. The fortress was part of the city, you can still see what is left of a formerly wealthy neighbourhood. Nowadays it's fascinating nooks and crannies are venues for art exhibits and markets. Don't forget Porta Marzia, now part of the fort walls, but originally from the 3rd Century B.C. 

San Pietro and the Orto Botanico - After a long walk in the city center you can take a break at these amazing gardens.

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LUNCH

Osteria a Priori -  Traditional choices with locally sourced ingredients. Slow Food products in a cozy osteria with wooden-beamed ceilings. I highly recommend the Egg truffled stracciatella.

La bottega di Perugia - Real street food from Umbria! A super small sandwich spot where only local and traditional products like porchetta or lombetto are used. Wine is served as well.

Umbrò - A huge space with a high quality self service restaurant, a little market, a café, a small bookshop, an exhibition hall and a garden!

 

COFFEE 

Sandri - Don't miss this historical café on corso Vannucci, Sandri offers great cakes and pastries. Admire the wooden counter, the frescoes, and the over-all elegant atmosphere that even the waiters exude. And, feast your eyes on the amazing shop window!

Dispensa 63 -  For something sweet to go with your coffee, head to this small bakery that uses the best seasonal ingredients...they have vegan options, too!

 

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APERITIVO

T-trane -  Here you can find special craft beers, listen to all kinds of music, buy vinyls, chat with the bartenders, and enjoy unique gigs and dj sets.

Il birraio - A very beautiful place to have a beer or a quick dinner, while enjoying the sunset and the cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Postmodernissimo - Modernissimo used to be an art house cinema that closed at the beginning of the new Millennium. The theater reopened 14 years later as Postmodernissimo, thanks to crowdfunding and 4 special guys who really cared about giving this place back to the citizens. You can choose your avant-garde movie while sipping a great bianco from the renewed cafeteria.

...IN THE SUMMER

Umbria Jazz - If you are a big music fan, you will likely already know the Umbria Jazz music festival. Perugia during the festival is full of music, events, concerts and people from all over the world. 

La terrazza del mercato - On the top of the city market building, you can have a drink and enjoy the panorama and some good music.

Punto di vista cafè - A breathtaking view from one of the most beautiful terraces in the city center!

 

DINNER

Trattoria del borgo - This is a really nice traditional trattoria where everything is delicious: food, people and the restaurant itself, especially when it is warm enough to enjoy dinner in the private garden. Make sure not to get it confused with other restaurants with similar names, this one is in via della Sposa!

La fame - One of my favourite restaurants to have a special dinner with fresh fish and really good wine. They have meat and vegan/vegatarian choices, too. Leave room for desserts!

Società anonima - Newly opened place where you can just have a drink, an aperitivo, or stay for dinner. Ingredients are local but recipes are really unique. The menu doesn't have categories for appetizers, or first and second courses, you can mix and choose whatever you want and in whatever order you want it. Definitely sui generis!

Mediterranea - For a very tasty pizza! Always very crowded, booking a table ahead is recommended.

...AFTER DINNER...

Balù - Music and culture events in a really nice club. Possibly the best beer choices in Perugia.

Bottega del vino - Live music (check their program) and very good wines. You can sit and have dinner too.

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SHOPPING

Bavicchi - Here you can find every kind of local bean and legume, dried fruit, sauces, seeds and spices. A complete emporium to smell!

Bettini Ceramiche - A lovely ceramic and home decor shop where you can find colorful, artisanal Umbrian pottery. In particular the Deruta majolica is very nice.

Umbrò - This is a great place to go and buy traditional and local products, such as Lenticchie di Castelluccio, E. V. O. Oil or Truffle Sauces, on a budget.

 

GETTING AROUND

S. Egidio Airport - The airport is 13 km away, about 25 minutes driving from Perugia's city center.

Airport Shuttle –  Tickets for Perugia city centre are 2,50 euros each, 3,50 if bought onboard.

Train Station – Perugia Centrale with Trenitalia.

Bus   UnicoPerugia Ticket is 1,50 euro and you can buy it at a Tabaccheria or Edicola or at a Minimetrò ticket machine. One ticket is valid for 70 minutes, or get a Daily ticket at the cost of 5,40 euros.

MiniMetrò  Same as bus ticket. The service connects Pian di Massiano and the Railway Station to the city centre. Check the timetables, it changes in relation to important events in town.

Car - The city center is mostly closed off to cars “Zona Traffico Limitato -or- ZTL” (unless you’re a taxi, bus, or resident of that area) in any case it is always very crowded and the traffic can be difficult. I don’t recommended driving around the city, but instead to tour the city on foot. If parking on the street, please take note of the color of the lines: White lines mean parking for residents only, blue lines mean anyone can park there (make sure to see if there is an hourly fee to pay), and yellow lines mean NO parking (either Handicap parking or Bus stops).

 

MUSIC

P-Funking Band

Fast animals and slow kids

 

CATANIA

Clare Hazlett

Photo by Marcella Offeddu

Photo by Marcella Offeddu

The Catania City Guide was written by art historian & Catania native, Claudia D'angelo. The photographs were taken by Marcella Offeddu.

 

SIGHTSEEING

Photo by Marcella Offeddu

Photo by Marcella Offeddu

Piazza Duomo - Where history, archaeology and culture meet. Before visiting the baroque cathedral by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini, don't miss the Terme Achilleane. The thermal baths were built in roman times, around the third century A.D and were rediscovered at the behest of the Prince of Biscari, Ignazio Paternò Castello. Inside the cathedral, take a look at the frescos by Giacinto Platania that show the lava flow of 1669.

Badia of St. Agatha - This church was created by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. Make sure to go up to the terraces to enjoy a splendid view of Catania from above!

Elephant Fountain (U Liotru) - In the middle of Piazza Duomo is this monument built by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini around 1735. Its popular name is “Liotru” after the magician Liodoro who, according to the legend, rode the animal to fly from Catania to Costantinople.

Amenano Fountain - Located at the entryway to the fish market. Amenano is an underground river still running under the city that has been buried over time by Mount Etna’s eruptions. Its water comes out in this beautiful fountain called “acqua a linzolu” (water flowing down like a linen sheet) by the locals. Every day until noon behind the fountain you’ll find the noisy and fascinating fish market!

Via Etnea - This is the most important street in the center of Catania, ideally connecting the sea with the rest of the city facing mount Etna.

Benedictine Monastery - The largest Benedictine monastery in Europe and today is home to the Department of Humanities of the University of Catania. A real gem of the late baroque period, who’s history tells a lot about Catania itself. I highly recommend taking the 1 hour guided tour (available in English, too) to discover this magical place. Some of the treasures you’ll find inside: a roman house, the beautiful cloisters, the huge kitchens and much more!

Ursino Castle - The home of Friedrich II of Sweden and the city museum, the Ursino Castle is a fascinating square shaped building, now used to host temporary contemporary art exhibitions. This is also a popular place for people to go in the evening, because of the many restaurants that surround it.

Palazzo Biscari - A beautiful aristocratic baroque palace from the XVIII century with impressive Rococo interiors. You can also visit the annexed atelier of the designer Marella Ferrera, as well as the house of the writer Giovanni Verga.

Giardino Bellini - After a long walk in the city center you can take a break at the public gardens dedicated to Vincenzo Bellini which have been recently restored and are often used as a Flea and Handmade Market location.

 

LUNCH

Photo by Marcella Offeddu.

Photo by Marcella Offeddu.

Buatta - A lovely spot to grab a great bruschetta while visiting the baroque via Crociferi. The international atmosphere and impressive variety of local products, used with wisdom and respect for traditions make this a very special place. (It’s not very spacious, so we recommend making reservations.)

FUD - A hamburger spot, but they use only local products and have invented new interesting fusion recipes to crossover international cuisine with the Sicilian traditions. You can also get a great Neapolitan style pizza and a variety of sandwiches.

L’Etoil D’OrA pasticceria (bakery) that is open 24 hours a day so you’ll find fresh ricotta cannoli and cassata which makes it the perfect place to end the night with something sweet. But, they also have traditional Sicilian food and what we call “tavola calda”: The “Cartocciata” is a delicious sort of pizza dough ravioli filled with mozzarella and a variety of different fillings, “Siciliana” is the fried version filled with mozzarella and anchovies, and of course they also have the best “Arancini” ever.

 

COFFEE & GRANITA

Photo by Marcella Offeddu.

Photo by Marcella Offeddu.

Almost every square has its own kiosk where you can have coffee and ice cream, or try a lemon soda and salt drink (seltzer, lemon and salt) or a tamarind juice. You’d better not miss a glass of almond milk, a typical Catanese drink, well known and appreciated even in the rest of Italy.

Caffè Savia - A historic cafè on the old via Etnea that offers almost anything you would crave (because they are a bakery). They also have delicious ice creams and unforgettable granitas. The pistachio and almond granitas are the best, to eat on the typical Catanese brioche (soft, sweet bread) which is really different from those you’ll find in the rest of Italy.

 

APERITIVO

Photo by Marcella Offeddu.

Photo by Marcella Offeddu.

Fisharia - The latest hotspot in Catania, Fisharia is a very easy-going place where every single plate they invent is something special, with ingredients sourced directly from the Mediterranean Sea. You can a have an aperitivo with great sicilian wines and delicious fish tartare. They also have a restaurant area, so it would be a great place for lunch and dinner, too.

Bohème Mixology - With its bohemian atmosphere with a modern twist, this is the perfect place to chill out and taste special (and very good looking) drinks, before dinner or right afterwards.

FUD Off - this stylish place is tiny (it’s basically a hallway with industrial vibes and interesting lighting choices) and is the perfect place to have a gourmet aperitivo. They have a wide variety of “tapas”, made only with local ingredients and great cocktails revisited with Sicilian flavors.

 

DINNER

Photo by Marcella Offeddu.

Photo by Marcella Offeddu.

Nino Mannino - is also the name of the owner of this trattoria close to via di San Giuliano, crossing via Etnea. Here you can find almost any traditional Sicilian dish, but in my opinion you HAVE to taste the classic “pasta alla Norma” (named after Bellini’s opera) or pasta with black squid and, above all, the “involtoni di mozzarella” (mozzarella and meat rolls) that they always have on their menu.

I Principi - A classic Catanese trattoria with a great view of the Ursino Castle. Their specialty is grilled equine steaks and meatballs that they serve with a very tasty salad of tomatoes, red Tropea onions and ricotta salata. The buffet entrees are remarkable because of their Caponata and Parmigiana.

Il Sale Art Café - A very interesting restaurant located inside of an art gallery! Via Santa Filomena is itself extraordinary for the number of restaurants and clubs you can find, but this place is definitely worth a visit for its traditional and (at the same time) modern cuisine!

Cutilisci - A wonderful spot if you are in the seaside area (lungomare), just out of the city center on the way to Acitrezza. The great thing about this place is the location (they have tables in this little square right ON the water in a charming port called San Giovanni Licuti). They serve great fish dishes and good pizzas as well.

AFTER DINNER...

Byzantine chapel of Bonajuto - A fascinating, rich of history place where you can enjoy a good glass of wine or continue on to via Landolina – always crowded with youngsters looking for fun, especially after dinner for a drink

Agorà Hostel (aka Ostello)The Ostello is one of the liveliest places to go for a drink! It’s pretty much always packed and you can get very cheap cocktails and local beers while listening to the music and performance events. Monday night is couscous night. Don’t forget to check out the downstairs restaurant, which is set in an underground cave formed by an old lava flow, and has the Amenano river running through the bottom of it.

Alessi staircase - Has medieval origins and leads to the beautiful baroque via Crociferi. There are some interesting buildings such as Palazzo Zappalà, the Benedectine convent and LOTS of nightclubs such as the renowed Nievski pub. After 10 pm, this place is always crowded (winter and summer!) with people looking for fun, especially the whole LGBT local community. That’s why I love this place!

 

SHOPPING

Photo by Marcella Offeddu.

Photo by Marcella Offeddu.

Juna - is a tiny clothes shop right in the centre, opposite of the Bellini gardens. The nice owner is herself a taylor and her shop hosts a selection of the coolest handmade scene from different part of Italy. Worth a stop by!

Ceramiche De Simone - A nice ceramic and home decor shop where you can find colorful, artisanal pottery directly from the sicilian tradition… with a modern twist!

I Dolci di Nonna Vincenza - This is a great place to go and buy special traditional pastries made out of dried fruits (like "paste di mandorla", little pastries made with almond flour and spices) or any other pastries with fresh ricotta cream (cannoli, cassate, crostate). They also have a shop at the airport where they prepare special travel boxes to take away!

 

GETTING AROUND

Photo by Marcella Offeddu.

Photo by Marcella Offeddu.

Catania Airport - Aeroporto Fontanarossa

Airport Shuttle – AMT Alibus to/from airport and train station costs 4 euros. Service starts at 4:40am and ends at 12:00am. From 7:30am to 9:30pm the bus runs every 25 minutes.

Train Station – Catania Centrale with Trenitalia.

Bus AMT 1 euro/ticket at a Tabaccheria. One ticket is valid for 90 minutes or get a Daily ticket at the cost of 2 euros.

Metro 1 euro/ticket. Service starts from Borgo at 6.40 a.m. and ends at 21.14 p.m.

Car - The city center is mostly closed off to cars “Zona Traffico Limitato -or- ZTL” (unless you’re a taxi, bus, or resident of that area) in any case it is always very crowded and the traffic can be annoying. I don’t recommended driving around the city, but instead to tour the city on foot. If parking on the street, please take note of the color of the lines: White lines mean parking for residents only, blue lines mean anyone can park there (make sure to see if there is an hourly fee to pay), and yellow lines mean NO parking (either Handicap parking or Bus stops).

 

MUSIC

Photo by Marcella Offeddu.

Photo by Marcella Offeddu.

Carmen Consoli –  In bianco e nero

Franco Battiato – Cuccuruccù

Vincenzo Bellini – La Norma

 

To see the necklace dedicated to the city of Catania, click here! 

REGGIO EMILIA

Clare Hazlett

The Reggio Emilia City Guide was created in collaboration with Reggio native, Ilaria Calò.

SIGHTSEEING

City Hall – Designed by the Bolognese engineer Ludovico Bolognini in 1774. It was here that, on January 7, 1797, representatives of the free municipalities of Reggio, Modena, Bologna and Ferrara met to proclaim the Cispadane Republic, adopting the tri-color flag (green-white-red), that was then chosen as the national flag (although the prototype had horizontal bands) in 1848. The Tricolor hall represents the town's civic commitment. Today, it is the seat of the Municipal Council.

The Tricolor flag Museum - The museum is located inside the City Hall. On display are documents, objects, and relics concerning the history of the national flag, its origin and further developments until the Napoleonic period.

San Prospero – Built in the 10th century and dedicated to Prosper of Reggio, a bishop of the city. It was later rebuilt by Luca Corti and Matteo Fiorentini between 1514 and 1523. The façade, with eleven statues of saints and patrones, was redesigned by Giovan Battista Cattani in the mid-18th century. It includes a tower with an octagonal floor plan that was started in 1535 and never quite finished. The interior of the church has a Latin cross plan, with three naves. The apse houses the splendid fresco of the Last Judgement, by the Bolognese artist Camillo Procaccini. Also noteworthy are the wooden chaird from 1546 and the Assumption altarpiece.

Basilica della Ghiara – Main church of the city; begun in 1597, and completed in 1619. The interior is ornately decorated with frescoes by the Caracci school, Alessandro Tiarini, and Lionello Spada.

Musei Civici – The new Palazzo dei Museii of Reggio Emilia, designed by the architect Italo Rota, presents an idea of museum open to a collective memory by interacting with the present and creating the future. Objects, people and characters with their stories become the architecture of the museum.

Teatro Valli – The Teatro Municipale Valli was designed by the architect Cesare Costa and constructed in the neoclassic style between 1852 and 1857. The frescoes on the ceiling are by the local artist Domenico Pellizzi. Its inauguration took place on the 21st of April 1857 with the performance of Vittor Pisani by local composer Achille Peri. It is the pre-eminent public theatre of the city and is located in the historical centre next to the public park and near the smaller and more recent theatre Teatro Ariosto. It sponsors concerts, operas and ballet performance.

Palazzo Magnani Foundation – The building which currently houses the Palazzo Magnani exhibition gallery once belonged to the Becchi Counts for a century. In the early eighteenth century it was acquired by another aristocratic family, the Chioffi, who initiated major restoration works in 1841 that gave the building its current appearance. Nowadays it is the setting for art galleries and exhibitions from all over the world.

I chiostri di San Pietro - The two Cloisters of Saint Peters belonged to the Benedictine Monks who used to officiate in the annexed church. The small Cloister was completed in 1524 by Bartolemeo Spani and by Leonardo Pacchioni and is of typical renaissance design. The large Cloister was built in 1584 by Prospero and Francesco Pacchioni, with the high loggia running along the length of the facades, it is densely decorated with statues and windows. A number of paintings can be seen but unfortunately many of the original decorations were covered by a layer of limestone in the 1950's.

Calatrava Bridges and High Speed Train station- Surrounding Reggio are three magnificent bridges designed by Santiago Calatrava that were opened in 2005-2006.  The three bridges connect the Austostrada del Sole A1 (the main Italian north to south motorway) to the city of Reggio Emilia. A central arch bridge spans the Milan-Bologna high-speed railway line and the motorway, while the two twin cable bridges are at either end, and connect with the adjacent Reggio Emilia AV Mediopadana high-speed railway station (that is itself an amazing architectural structure designed by Calatrava). In 2009, the European Convention for Constructional Steelwork gave the three bridges a European Steel Design Award, stating that the twin bridges' original visual effects at different angles give the two bridges "the aspect of huge musical instruments."

Spazio Gerra – Bequeathed to the Municipality of Reggio Emilia by Anna Maria Ternelli Gerra for the purpose of creating a new cultural venue in the city dedicated to her husband, the artist Marco Gerra (1925-2000). The former Cairoli Hotel, located in piazza XXV Aprile, was restored through an innovative design by the architect Christian Gasparin. Exhibited on the various floors of “Spazio Gerra” are the multifaceted dimensions of contemporaneity in their various expressions, functions and manifestations, including art, photography, advertising, television, cinema, graphic art, illustration, comics, projection, video and computer, but also in less visible forms, such as those of the mind, those evoked through words and music, as well as those not deriving directly from sight but perceived through the senses of smell, touch, taste and hearing.

Pietra di Bismantova - The Stone of Bismantova is included in the National Park of the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano and is a geological formation in Castelnovo ne' Monti just outside of Reggio Emilia. It has the shape of a narrow, quasi-cylindrical plateau whose steep walls emerge about 300 meters high as an isolated spur from the nearby hills. (The top has an elevation of 1,047 meters above sea level.) It includes fossils belonging to a tropical environment and is surrounded by a forest of mostly hazel trees. The Pietra di Bismantova is mentioned by Dante Alighieri in his Divine Comedy (Purgatory, IV, 25-30).

 LUNCH

Giusto Spirito - Try lunch at Reggio's most famous micro-brewery. The menu items are always delicious, from salads to hamburgers and pizza! Good value for your money. It is located about 10 minutes from downtown Reggio by car.

Tigelliamo - You can’t come to Reggio and NOT try the Gnocco fritto (salty fried dough) or the Tigelle (compact round bread) served with the typical array of cured meats & cheeses! For a quick lunch with these regional specialties, this is the perfect place.

Zazie - Fresh soups and smoothies served in a charming, casual setting right in the city center.

Condor   Fresh pasta and pizza place that is perfect for a relaxed lunch. Good home made pasta served in generous portions. Condor is very popular among local customers, businessmen and people working in the area. 

COFFEE

Boni - The best coffee and pastries in Reggio Emilia! In this recently restored historical building, meet Rosalba (the sweetest owner in town) who will greet you and ask for your order. Try a “cannellino” (fresh pastry cone filled with custard or Chantilly cream).

Sambirano – Want to start the day the right way? Try breakfast at this luxurious but modern café, offering a wide variety of high-quality coffees, teas, pastries and petit bon bon.

GELATO

Reggio Emilia is famous for its artisanal Gelato. These three gelaterie are definitely carrying on the tradition in the best way! Choose from rich cream & chocolate flavors, as well as interesting flavors of their own invention!

K2 – in via Guido da Castello 7

Caraibi – in Via Emilia Ospizio 59

Capriccio– in vicolo Trivelli 2

APERITIVO

Caffè Fontanesi -  Here you can drink the best spritz in town, order a bottle (or just a glass) of your choice from the wide selection of wines. You can either hang out inside next to their personal library under beautifully frescoed ceilings, or you can sit down outside in the “distesa” overlooking one of the loveliest and most romantic squares in Reggio, Piazza Fontanesi.

Bottega 39 – This tapas bar is located in the charming, little square Piazzetta della Legna. It’s my go-to place for excellent cocktails with a twist, and tapas-style dinner and aperitivi. Look up at the ceiling for some non-refundable wisdom from famous personalities! (Large groups should reserve a table).

Caffè Europa – Located in Piazza Prampolini in front of the City Hall, this little cafè is the epitome of the Dolce Vita. When you order a drink, they will serve you complimentary olives, chips and little snacks on the side. Take a deep breath and relax!

Hot Chili – This is possibly the most crowded place to grab a drink on weekends in the city center, but it is definitely the best by far! Get their signature drink the “Uragano” (the Hurricane) at a discount price during Happy Hour from 19.00 till 21.30. If you prefer a lighter drink, I recommend the “Lady Killer”.

DINNER

Ristorante Canossa – Regional cooking at its best located in the heart of the city. Canossa is famous for delicious Reggio Emilian-style first course dishes like cappelletti and lasagne, as well as regionally-renowned meat courses, like the “Carello dei Bolliti” (literally a hot cart full of meats!).

Marta in Cucina – Nouvelle cuisine style restaurant located near Piazza del Cristo. A minimalist interior with a modern approach to regional dishes.

Spaghetteria – Young and hip restaurant with art-focused décor. Spaghetteria is famous for a special "al dente" pasta. Be advised: this restaurant doesn't take reservations, so plan accordingly.

Piatto Unico - If you are in the mood for something different, Piatto Unico is a great place to try some new flavors. They combine Italian recipes and fuse them with ethnic influences. The staff is very friendly and the food, although not terribly abundant, is very delicious. In the summer you can wine and dine in the quaint garden in the back too!

Piccola Piedigrotta – Naples-style pizza place located in the city center. Well known for its thick-crusted pizzas and grilled meats. 

SHOPS

Tamagnini - Trendy & elegant shoe store for both men and women, with a focus on brands proudly sporting the Made in Italy label.

Casimiro – Fun and creative design objects for you and your home. You can find everything from high-end design objects to creations by emerging young designers.

Boom - Stylish clothing & accessories for the everyday working woman.

Christian - Make sure to stop by and check out some serious fashion statements. This Reggio Emilia luxury multi-brand store will surprise you with Italian leather, tailor-made suits from all the best brands.

Jalisco - Rustic Western store filled with handmade boots from Mexico, handcrafted jewelry, cowboy hats and other unique items.

Bagus – An all-in-one jewelry, art, ethnic clothes, and furniture store.

GETTING AROUND

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Bologna Airport - (BLQ) Aeroporto Guglielmo Marconi di Bologna. Approximately 50 min by car.

Parma Airport - (PMF) Aeroporto di Parma. Approximately 40 min by car.

Milano Linate Airport - (LIN) Aeroporto di Milano Linate. Approximately 1 hour and a half by car.

Train - The Reggio Emilia AV Mediopadana High-Speed Train Station and The Reggio Emilia Train Station - Being close to Bologna and Milano, which are the main hubs for train traffic in the north of Italy, it's relatively easy to reach Reggio Emilia by train. The main train station is within walking distance from the city center. From Milano, Bologna and Florence, it's possible to book more expensive and faster trains that stop at the Reggio Emilia AV Mediopadana High-Speed Railway Station designed by Calatrava. Otherwise you can take the Regional trains which are slower, a little less comfortable, but definitely cheaper.

Bus - ATC 1.50 euro/ticket if you buy with exact change on the bus. The price is 1.30 euros/ticket if you buy an individual ticket at a Tabaccheria (insert it into the gray & yellow ticket machines on the bus). Or buy the City Pass in a Tabaccheria which costs 12 euros for 10 rides (always remember to stamp your ticket with the gray ticket machine). One ticket is valid for 75 minutes from the time you insert it into the ticket machine!

Car - Reggio Emilia is located on the Highway A1, that runs from Milano to Napoli, passing by Bologna, Florence and Roma. Leaving from Milano the exit for Reggio Emilia is around 130, 140 km south. Coming from Bologna, the exit for Reggio Emilia is aroung 80 km north.  The city center is mostly closed off to cars “Zona Traffico Limitato-or- ZTL” (unless you’re a taxi, bus, or resident of that area). It is recommended to park outside the city center or find a reasonably priced parking garage nearby. If parking on the street, please take note of the color of the lines: White lines mean parking for residents only, blue lines mean anyone can park there (make sure to see if there is an hourly fee to pay), and yellow lines mean NO parking (either Handicap parking or Bus stops).

Bike – Reggio Emilia is a biker-friendly city with bike paths all around the city center. Visitors can rent bikes andcycle around the city center where everything is happening. Make sure you have a solid lock and don’t leave your bike where you think it might be stolen.

Foot – Reggio Emilia is a great walking city. You can walk from one side to the other in just about 30 minutes! The old town has a hexagonal form, which derives from the ancient city walls. The main buildings are from the 16th–17th centuries, and are divided by Via Emilia, an ancient Roman road which spans from to the northen part of Italy down to Rimini on the Adriatic coast. In Via Emilia, you'll find shops and boutiques prefect for a relaxing stroll.

BOOKS

Cesare Zavattini – Famous writer, journalist, screenwriter who devoted himself to writing and in 1936 received his first screenplay and story credits. In 1935, he met Vittorio De Sica, beginning a partnership that produced around twenty films, including such masterpieces of Italian neorealism as: Sciuscià (Shoeshine, 1946), Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle Thieves, American release title, The Bicycle Thief, 1948), Miracolo a Milano (Miracle in Milan, 1951) .

Ludovico Ariosto - Italian poet that is best known as the author of the romance epic Orlando Furioso (1516). The poem, a continuation of Matteo Maria Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato, describes the adventures of Charlemagne, Orlando, and the Franks as they battle against the Saracens with diversions into many sideplots. Ariosto composed the poem in the ottava rima rhyme scheme and introduced narrative commentary throughout the work. Ariosto also coined the term "humanism" for choosing to focus upon the strengths and potential of humanity, rather than only upon its role as subordinate to God. This led to Renaissance humanism.

Pier Vittorio Tondelli - was an Italian writer who wrote a small but influential body of work. He was born in Correggio, a small town in Emilia-Romagna region and died in nearby Reggio Emilia because of AIDS. Tondelli enjoyed modest success as a writer but often encountered trouble with censorship for his use of homosexual themes in his works. Book recommendation: Altri libertini – 1980 Feltrinelli

MUSIC

LigabueCerte Notti

Nomadi Canzone per un’amica

Fausto Amodei - Per I morti di Reggio Emilia

Zucchero - Diamante

Benny Benassi - Satisfaction

 

Check out C. Leather Goods' bag named after the beautiful city of Reggio Emilia here!

PALERMO

Clare Hazlett

The Palermo City Guide was created in collaboration with the talented writer, food-lover & current Sicilian resident, Henna Garrison

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Sicily is a world apart from mainland Italy and Palermo is a city that embodies the Sicilian atmosphere wholeheartedly. It’s surprising and seductive: the gritty alleyways, chaotic markets, and noisy streets blend easily with elegant architecture, pockets of peaceful green and some of the most unique churches you will find in all of Italy. It’s a city that has been built and rebuilt, conquered, divided and united, and exposes its vulnerability and diversity at every corner. But at the same time it is in a league of its own: stunning views, wide smiles and abundant food welcome any eager visitor willing to open their heart to such a unique spot.

 

SIGHTSEEING

Cattedrale di Palermo - Piazza della Cattedrale - A blend of cultures, this enchanting church was first the site of a Byzantine basilica and later converted into a mosque, but the current structure you see today was erected as a church in 1185. Various additions and modifications provide a rich mix of architectural styles ranging from Norman to Gothic and Catalan.

Palazzo dei Normanni - Piazza Indipendenza, 1 - Current home to the Sicilian Parliament, this elegant palace was originally built in the ninth century for the Arab Emir. It was elaborated on during Norman rule but later neglected until the Spanish viceroy reclaimed it as his residence. Inside you’ll find the beautifully mosaiced Palatine Chapel, the rich Royal Apartments and the Hall of Hercules, where Parliament sits. The adjacent park grounds outside are beautiful to explore as well.

Cappella Palatina - Piazza Indipendenza, 1 (inside the Norman Palace) - Consecrated by the Normans in 1140, the mosaics in this court church are unparalleled. You’ll be dazzled by rich colors and bold gold and an interior feeling of harmony between Latin, Byzantine and Arabic styles.

Quattro Canti - Intersection of Via Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda - This is no ordinary crossroads. Between 1608 and 1620 the Roman architect Giulio Lasso designed this beautiful junction to join the two main streets of Palermo: one leading to the sea and the other leading to the hills. Notice stunning concave facades at each corner and fountains at ground level with sculpted figures and classical Greek columns.

Teatro Massimo - Piazza G. Verdi - The third largest theater in Italy, this 3,200-seat theater was built between 1875 and 1897 by Giovanni Battista Basile and his son Ernesto. Check the ticket office for day-of deals, or 8 euros will get you a 45 minute guided tour inside the building. It’s worth a peek!

Orto Botanico - Via Lincoln, 2 - Tucked back along the sea by the central train station, the Botanic Garden covers 11 hectares and houses more than 12,000 species of plants from all over the world. It’s worth a visit if you’re looking for some calm amidst the craziness of Palermo's streets.

Fontana Pretoria - Piazza Pretoria - This stunning fountain outside of the Municipal Hall was designed by the Florentine sculptor Francesco Camilliani between 1554 and 1555 for the Tuscan villa of Don Pedro di Toledo. But in 1573 the city of Palermo bought and installed the fountain in attempt to compete with the newly created Fontana di Orione of Messina. The creative creatures spouting water are both whimsical and terrifying.

Catacombe dei Cappuccini - Piazza Cappuccini, 1 - If you’re feeling brave, head underground to visit the catacombs where you’ll find about 8,000 mummified corpses of all ages and styles, dressed to impress. Not for the faint hearted.

Teatro Politeama  - Piazza Ruggero Settimo - The second most important theater in Palermo and home to the Symphony Orchestra, this neoclassical style theater is as beautiful inside as out.

Monreale - Monreale isn’t quite in Palermo's city center: it’s a tiny hill-town famous for its exquisite mosaics in the town’s Norman cathedral. It’s worth the bus ride just for the views.

 

LUNCH

If you’ve indulged in a typical Sicilian breakfast of granita and brioche (flavored slushies stuffed into a freshly baked sweet bread), then you’ll probably won’t be hungry for a sit-down meal. Which is perfect because Palermo is the city for street food. Anywhere you see a covered basket and a boisterous man yelling, there’s probably good food hiding. Here are some of our favorites.

Mercato Ballarò - At this never-ending open air market, trust your gut and go with what looks good and fresh. From enormous pots of boiled potatoes and artichokes to baked ricotta slabs spread with olives and just made caponata, you’re bound to find something that strikes your fancy.

Franco u Vastiddaru - Corso Vittorio Emanuele, 102 - The place for the traditional pani ca’ meusa (not for vegetarians, this delicious sandwich is stuffed with innards). The classic version is served hot with salt and lemon, or alternatively try it with Caciocavallo cheese or ricotta. For a less meaty alternative try pane panella (a simple sandwich filled with fried chickpea flour). You can take away or take your chance getting a table. Best enjoyed under the sun with an ice-cold beer.

Buatta Cucina  Popolana - Via Vittorio Emanuele, 176 - The street food taste but in a hip atmosphere if you feel like giving your legs a rest. We prefer the window seats so you can watch the action go by.

Antica Foccacceria San Francesco - via Alessandro Paternostro 58 - Another great place to taste a variety of local street food specialties in a charming old building facing the Saint Francis Church. Grab your selection of foods at the counter and enjoy your lunch in the upstairs seating area. Plus they have a great assortment of Sicilian pastries for dessert!

Bar Touring - Viale Alcide De’ Gasperi 237 - In front of the Botanic Gardens is this unassuming bar that makes delicious arancini (deep fried rice balls with a variety of fillings) of unparalleled dimensions. 

 

COFFEE & PASTRIES

Pasticceria Cappello - Via Colonna Rotta, 68 (7 veli) - Truth be told the coffee is nothing to shake a stick at, just regular old Illy. But you’ll need it to jump start yourself out of the sugar coma that this legendary pasticceria will give you. For chocolate decadence look no further than the Settestrati (or Sette veli) cake.

Ideal Caffè Stagnitta - Discesa dei Giudici, 42 - Here they roast their own coffee, so expect a powerful punch from their house blend espresso. Don’t forget to order a brioche (they even have coffee flavored) to go along with your mid-morning or afternoon caffeine. Take a peek inside their bottega next door for all sorts of typical sweet treats, coffee by the bean, and artisanal jams etc.

Bar Tearoom - Piazza Marina, 2 - Your typical Italian cafe experience where you have to jostle to get your order in but then can sit back (inside or out) and enjoy a cappuccino and a treccia (a sugar coated braided bread) while you watch the world wander by.

 

GELATO

Gelateria Brioscia - Via Mariano Stabile, 198,

Cremolose - Piazza Alberico Gentili, 16

Peppe Cuti Al Gelatone - Via dell'Autonomia Siciliana, 9

 

APERITIVO

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Spillo La Birroteca - Cortile di San Giovanni degli Eremiti, 2 - Beer lovers rejoice. You’ll find over 100 different brews to choose from and a decent selection of snacks if you’re feeling like you want to nibble before dinner.

Champagneria Bottiglieria del Massimo - Via Salvatore Spinuzza, 59 - Watch the action go by at this hole in the wall that has a surprisingly complex drink list. From top-tier rums to local beers, something for everyone.

Cioccolateria Lorenzo - Via IV Aprile, 7 - For an alternative aperitivo, head to this intimate pastry place for a warm tea or a sparkling prosecco alongside something sweet.

Caffe del Teatro Massimo - Piazza Verdi, 29 - For an elegant and quiet aperitivo, try the outdoor tables at Teatro Massimo. Secluded and sophisticated. Sundays around noon they often have jazz.

 

DINNER

Osteria Ballaro - Via Calascibetta, 25 - They have both a casual enoteca area and a more formal dining room, but either way you’ll be treated to delicious dishes with fresh, local ingredients.

Osteria Mercede - Via Pignatelli Aragona, 52 - For fresh fish head here and you’ll have a tough time making a choice. Make sure to call ahead to reserve your spot.

Trattoria il Vecchio Mafone - Via Judica, 22 - Another spot for great seafood at a good price. Try any of their pasta dishes, but we’re partial to  the Nero di Seppia (Squid ink pasta.)

 

SHOPPING

Mercato Antico - Piazza Marina - Stroll around this piazza on Sundays for funky vintage finds.

Libreria Easyreader - Via Alessandro Paternostro, 71 - Cute and curated, this bookshop has items for not just native Italians. Hand-painted postcards and small gift items are tucked in between shelves of books.

Dudi Di Tetamo Maria Romana - Via Quintino Sella, 71 - “A bookstore for kids...but not only” is the slogan at this sweet shop filled with kid and non-kid items.

Link.02 - Via Gaetano Daita, 55 - For some fresh fashion finds, head here and see what’s new.

 

GETTING AROUND

Another great resource for traveling in Palermo is the  Use-it Guide , written by a group of young locals (pictured above)! 

Another great resource for traveling in Palermo is the Use-it Guide, written by a group of young locals (pictured above)! 

Palermo Airport: Falcone–Borsellino Airport (PMO)

Airport shuttle: A shuttle runs about every half hour to and from the airport to the central train station, making stops throughout the city center. One way costs 6.30 euro, round trip 11 euro. You can purchase on the bus, online, or at the airport as you exit from baggage claim. The trip takes around an hour, more or less depending on traffic and time of day.

Train Station: Palermo Centrale - Tickets can be purchased at the ticket counter or from automated vending machines. You can reach Palermo all the way from Milan by train if you are truly feeling brave! As with all Italian trains, validate your ticket in one of the many green machines on the platform before you board.

City Bus:  There’s a fairly decent city bus route but traffic can be intense, so be ready for unpredictable schedules. Tickets can only be bought from Tabaccheria, some bars or newsagents and cost €1.30 for a 90 minutes of riding time. You must stamp the ticket in one of the machines near the entrances of the vehicle upon boarding.

Tourist trains and hop on/off bus: There are some small trains and a hop on/off bus that circulate the main city center sites. It may be worth it if you’re travelling with children or only have a short time.

On foot: Our choice for navigating Palermo. Break out your sneakers and get ready to pound some pavement. Palermo is best explored on foot if you want to get a true sense of the city.

Taxis: Are expensive! Be prepared to cough up some dough if you want a private ride. There are shared taxis that are not as reliable when it comes to destination, but can be a good choice to or from the airport or train station.

Car: May luck be with you if you choose to rent a car! Driving in Palermo is not particularly recommended as most of the streets are closed to non-resident traffic. If you do drive into the city, try finding a reasonable garage to stow your car for the duration of your visit. Sicilian drivers are notoriously crazy, but it is a good way to explore outside of the big city.

Bike: It’s not too common to see bikers on the busy streets of Palermo. Again, our advice, stick to your own two feet.

**Need a toiletry case for all your travels? Or want a souvenir to remember your trip to Palermo? Check out the Palermo Dopp Kit, handmade with Italian vegetable tanned leather! **

FIRENZE

Clare Hazlett

SIGHTSEEING

The Duomo – The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the “Duomo” because of its large dome, an impressive architectural feat which was designed by Brunelleschi in the 1400’s. The church is elaborately decorated with geometric patterns of marble sourced from the surrounding cities: green marble from Prato, white marble from Carrara, and pink marble from Siena. I highly recommend climbing to the top of the Duomo to get a view of Florence from the heart of the city.

Campanile – Right next to the Duomo is the freestanding bell tower designed by Giotto (where you can also climb up to get a lovely view of the surrounding city).

Battistero di San Giovanni – In front of the Duomo is the Baptistery, a small octagonal structure that was built between 1059 and 1128. Make sure to take a look at the East doors, known as the “Gates of Paradise” which are a series of bronze relief sculptures that depict 10 scenes of the Old Testament by Lorenzo Ghiberti. A fun fact about the Baptistery is that Dante Alighieri was baptized here!

Piazza della Signoria – Not far away from the Duomo is the Piazza della Signoria. This large piazza is considered the center of Florence. Here you will find the Palazzo Vecchio (Florence’s city hall), the beginning area of the Uffizi Gallery, the Loggia dei Lanzi, and many important statues on display. Standing in front of Palazzo Vecchio is a replica of Michelangelo’s David (the original has since been moved indoors for better preservation). On the right side of the piazza is the Loggia dei Lanzi which is filled with statues by Benvenuto Cellini (Perseus with the Head of Medusa), Giambologna (The Rape of the Sabine Women) and more.

Gli Uffizi – The Ufizzi Gallery is one of the most important museums in Italy, holding an enormous collection of Renaissance masterpieces. You will find most of the greatest hits of Renaissance art within its walls: Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Parmigianino, Titian, Raffaello, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Durer, Rembrandt and many more. I would recommend booking your tickets ahead of time because there is always a very long line just to enter and you will need your energy to appreciate all of the artwork that this museum has to offer.

Il Bargello – This is a real gem of a museum that holds a large collection of Gothic and Renaissance sculptures. A couple of my favorite statues here are Michelangelo’s visibly inebriated Bacchus and the romantic Bust of Costanza Bonarelli by Bernini.

Santa Croce – With sixteen chapels (some decorated with frescoes by Giotto), Santa Croce is the largest Franciscan church in the world. Many famous Florentines are buried (or commemorated with tombstones) here, like Leon Battista Alberti, Galileo, Michelangelo, Dante (actually buried in Ravenna), Machiavelli and Rossini.

Galleria dell’Accademia – This is where you will find the original “David” statue by Michelangelo. He stands gloriously illuminated at the end of a long corridor which lined with several of his unfinished sculptures. The series of unfinished marble blocks leading up to the flawless David shows you Michelangelo’s process of unearthing figures from within each block and allows you to fully appreciate the mastery and skill it took to create a statue so perfectly magnificent.

San Lorenzo – Although its façade is left unfinished, its internal beauty should not be underestimated. Right behind the San Lorenzo Basilica is the Medici Chapel where many of the Medici family members are buried and commemorated with statues by Michelangelo (who also designed the architecture of the New Sacristy). Surrounding San Lorenzo is an outdoor market that sells souvenirs, leather goods and soccer jerseys of varying levels of quality and taste.

Santa Maria Novella – Located across from the train station is the Santa Maria Novella church, decorated with the traditional green and white marble patterns, and is well worth a visit inside. If you go around the corner from the church (in via della Scala 16) you will find the Officina Profumo – Farmaceutico di Santa Maria Novella that has been making and selling their natural cosmetics, herbal fragrances, liqueurs and more since 1612 - all with very charming, old-school, Italian packaging.

Ponte Vecchio – The Ponte Vecchio is a bridge that was built in 996 (appropriately named the “Old Bridge”).  Throughout the years the bridge has suffered damage from severe flooding of the Arno and was rebuilt or restored each time, but miraculously remained intact during WWII bombings. The bridge is famously home to goldsmiths and jewelry shops with the Vasari corridor, that connects the Palazzo Pitti to the Palazzo Vecchio, passing overhead.

Santa Felicità – Just over the Ponte Vecchio on your way to Palazzo Pitti, you will find a small church tucked back on the left in between a few bars and restaurants. Enter inside and immediately on your right is the Cappella Capponi and one of my favorite paintings of all time: “The Deposition of Christ”  by Pontormo, painted in 1526-8. Make sure to insert a coin into the light box to fully illuminate the painting and see the unexpected and masterful use of color, from bright pinks, oranges to cool greens and blues.

Palazzo Pitti & Boboli Gardens –  Palazzo Pitti is a building that once belonged to the Medici family and is now home to an impressive collection of musems, including a Renaissance art gallery where you can find famous works of art by Raffaello, Titian, Rubens, Caravaggio, and many more. Behind the palace is an large area of 16th century Italian gardens, ponds, and grottos, originally created for the wife of Cosimo I de’ Medici, Eleonora Toledo. On sunny days, the Boboli Gardens are the perfect place to have a relaxing picnic.

La Specola The Museum of Zoology and Natural History is located near Palazzo Pitti and dates back to 1775. It's a quirky museum with old anatomical models made from wax, as well as a fascinating collection of insects, fossils, minerals and taxidermy.

San Miniato al Monte –  Many people make the climb up the hill to Piazza Michelangelo to see a panoramic view of Florence, but if you continue just a little bit further up you will reach this beautiful church sitting atop one of the highest points of the city. San Miniato offers the BEST view of the Florence. Next to the church is a monastery that is inhabited by monks who are famous for making liqueurs, honey and herbal teas that are available for sale on site. If you are lucky, you may even hear the monks singing Gregorian chants.

Villa Demidoff – If you’re looking to get out of the city, you can visit the nearby park in Vaglia (Pratolino) to visit the Villa Demidoff/Villa di Pratolino. This amazing green area was once the country house of Francesco de’ Medici, built to entertain his mistress at the time. My favorite part about the park is the larger than life statue made by Giambologna representing the Appenine Collossus, complete with a mosaic covered grotto and fountains underneath.

Fiesole – For another quick trip outside of Florence, you can take the number 7 bus from Piazza San Marco up the hills to the small, ancient Etruscan village of Fiesole. It’s a lovely place to grab a gelato, see the Etruscan amphitheater, and walk up to the hilltop church to get a great panoramic view of Florence.

LUNCH

I Fratellini – Conveniently located near Piazza della Signoria, I Fratellini is a quick and easy lunch option. Grab some sandwiches made on the spot and/or a glass of wine to enjoy on the streets of Florence!

Pangie’s Bistrot – A small but perfect place for a casual sit-down lunch. Pangie's has excellent crostini (my favorite is with “fegatini” which is a chicken liver pâté), large meat & cheese plates as well as pastas, salads and great wine. The owners are friendly and have a good sense of humor (that can be noted by the handful of light-hearted signs hung around the restaurant).

Mercato Centrale The upstairs area in the central market is the Italian version of a food court, offering a variety of high quality, regional Italian food stands and tables to eat at. Here you are sure to find something for everyone’s tastes!

Da Mario Mario’s is located near the Mercato Centrale and is appreciated by both locals and tourists. There is usually a waiting list to enter because it's only open for lunch, but the food is well worth the wait (their Bistecca alla Fiorentina is delicious!!). The atmosphere is very, very informal, i.e. communal seating, and offers many local dishes. 

 

COFFEE

Hemingway – Hemingway is lovely café “Oltrarno” (on the other side of the Arno River) near Piazza Santo Spirito. Their hot chocolates are made in classic Italian style and are amazing! It is like drinking melted, hot chocolate pudding. If you’re looking to try a twist on the classic version, I would recommend trying their spicy, dark hot chocolate.

Café giacosa – Located near the chic shopping area of via Tornabuoni, this café is run by Roberto Cavalli and serves great espresso’s and cappuccino’s (buy not at luxury prices). I like coming here to people watch all of the impeccably dressed and stylish Italians.

**Remember that it is a serious faux-pas to order a cappuccino in the afternoon (Italian’s consider it strictly a breakfast beverage). If you need some milk in your coffee, an acceptable alternative is the caffé macchiato.

GELATO

Gelateria dei Neri The absolute BEST gelato in Florence. They have incredible flavors, made daily with fresh ingredients, ranging from seasonal fruit flavors, to rich chocolates, creams, semi-freddo’s a and killer granita’s (ice slushy) with whipped cream on top.

Gelateria al Ponte Santa Trinità – A respectable second place for gelato in Florence is the gelateria located across the Santa Trinità bridge. They also make their gelato fresh daily with quality ingredients, but it has a more limited selection than Gelateria dei Neri. A plus about this gelateria is that you can take your cone or cup onto the bridge and enjoy it with a great view of the Ponte Vecchio!

APERITIVO

La Ménagère – A super trendy bar in the city center that serves great drinks. Located inside a historic Florentine building, the space has been stylishly transformed into a restaurant, bar and flower shop all-in-one.

Antico VinaioEnjoy a glass of wine and a sandwich or crostini here for a only a few euros. The Antico Vinaio is very well-known in the tourist circles and also appreciated by the locals for its favorable price/quality ratio. If you stop by in the evening hours you’ll most likely find less of a crowd.

Piazza Santo Spirito – A lovely Italian piazza lined with bars, cafés, restaurants and the simply beautiful Santo Spirito church. This is my favorite piazza in Florence, day or night.  When the weather is nice, it is the perfect place to have a drink under the stars amongst the young, hip Florentines.

Il Santino – A tiny little bar (actually an annex of the restaurant Il Santo Bevitore) that serves wine, artisanal beers and cheese & meat plates. Part of its charm is that you can take your drinks out onto the street and feel like an Italian.

Excelsior Rooftop Bar – On the top floor of the Excelsior hotel is a fancy bar with giant glass walls that provide a stunning view of the city, especially at sunset.

DINNER

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La Giostra – A higher end restaurant, but worth every penny. The food is excellent, the service is very attentive, and they have an extensive wine list for varying budgets. The atmosphere is intimate with suffused lighting and exposed brick vaulted cieilings. I still dream about the pear and pecorino ravioli that I ate here a few years ago!

Pizzeria Spera – This casual pizzeria is located on the outskirts of town and serves delicious pizza. In Italy, when you go to a pizzeria they make you a personal pizza pie (not by the slice). If you are looking for something closer to downtown, I would also recommend the pizza at O’Vesuvio which is classic, Neapolitan-style pizza in a similarly casual setting.

Il Vezzo – Il Vezzo offers a modern take on classic Florentine cuisine. This is a really lovely restaurant with friendly service in a comfortable, intimate setting.

Il Latini – A classic Florentine restaurant that is popular with tourists and locals alike (for this reason making a reservation is recommended). Light-hearted servers will list off the menu of the day and keep bringing out dishes until you are full. At the end of the evening they size you up and estimate a price per person depending on how much you ate. I’ve had many fun (and filling!) dinners here.

Hibiki-àn – If you’re looking for some different flavors while in Florence, not far from Piazza San Marco is an wonderful Japanese restaurant serving ramen, sushi and much more.

SHOPS

Flow – A stylish, unique store in the city center with clothing and accessories for both men and women.

Zecchi – A charming, Italian art store where the shelves are lined with colorful pigments. Here you can find all the art supplies you want or need for sketching, drawing or painting around this artistically inspiring city.

Francesco da Firenze – A small, family-run, artisan workshop near Santo Spirito that handcrafts leather sandals. If they don’t have your exact size or color, they can make a custom pair ready for you the next day! All of the sandals are handmade in the back of the shop with vegetable tanned leather sourced from the nearby Tuscan tanneries. This is where I first apprenticed when learning how to make shoes and work with leather and am very grateful to Francesco and his son Valerio for being such wonderful teachers. I always have a few pairs of their sandals to wear in the summer because they are stylish and quite durable! 

Boutique Nadine – A lovely store along the river with a mix of local, handmade, Italian brands and great vintage finds. It is filled with lots of unique accessories and clothing for women and is located right near the Ponte Vecchio.

Falsi Gioielli – A fun, creative and colorful handmade jewelry store all created by hand by a local artist.

Il Papiro  - A Florentine stationary store with traditional, marbled papers and prints that make great gifts.

GETTING AROUND

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Airport  - Aeroporto Amerigo Vespucci di Firenze.

Bus Shuttle – There is a shuttle called VOLA IN BUS that goes back and forth from the airport to the bus station (near the train station) about every half-hour.

Train Station – Stazione Santa Maria Novella is the main train station in Florence that operates with Trenitalia or Italo trains.

Bus – The city center is mostly closed off to vehicles, including buses. Once you get out of the immediate downtown area you will find buses to take you around the external parts of the city. Usually you can buy a ticket from the bus driver, but if they are out of tickets you can send a text message to 4880105 with “ATAF” written in the message and the ticket amount will be taken from your phone credit. If you want to buy your bus tickets ahead of time, you can find them in the city in a Tabaccheria or newspaper stands.

Car - Take the exit for Firenze from the A1 or A11 highways. The downtown area is closed off to cars, please check with your hotel accommodations to find the nearest available parking.

Bike – Downtown Florence is fairly crowded and not the easiest place to navigate with bicycles. Although there are plenty of bike tours that will take you out of the city and into the Tuscan hills to visit nearby restaurants, wineries, and olive oil producers.

Foot - Florence is a great walking city. The downtown area is small and can be easily toured by foot!

MUSIC

NadaLa porti un bacione da Firenze  

Roberto Benigni – L’inno del corpo sciolto   

Litfiba – Spirito   

Riccardo del Turco Cosa hai messo nel caffè 

Jovanotti L’ombelico del mondo 

Toto Cutugno – Lasciatemi cantare

Interested in the bag named after this beautiful city? Check out the Firenze Clutch here!

BOLOGNA

Clare Hazlett

SIGHTSEEING:

Fountain of Neptune - This fountain was created by Giambologna in 1566 and is located in Piazza Maggiore. You might see people standing and looking at the statue from behind…get a local to show you the optical illusion.

Arches under Palazzo Re Enzo – In the archway under Palazzo Re Enzo there is a lovely surprise. If you stand with a friend in opposite corners facing the wall, your voice will be carried over to the other person.

San Petronio Basilica – Named after Bologna’s patron saint, San Petronio was originally planned to be the largest church in Italy…until Pope Pius IV found out about it and quickly built several buildings immediately surrounding San Petronio, successfully blocking any further expansions of the church. (You can still see the rough edges on either side where construction stopped.)

Archiginnasio – Built in 1563 by commission of Pope Pius IV, with its arched courtyard and ornate decoration, it is possibly one of the most beautiful buildings in Bologna. It was previously the main  building of the University of Bologna which was founded in 1088 and is the oldest continuously running university in the western world. The University also gave the city of Bologna the nickname “La Dotta” or The Learned. The Anatomical Theater, located inside the Archiginnasio, is a lecture hall built and ornately decorated in wood. It was used by the University’s medical school to teach the human anatomy to students by operating on cadavers. The Archiginnasio is also home to the largest library in Emilia Romagna region.

Santa Maria della Vita – In the back right of this small church are the six extraordinarily dynamic, life-sized terra cotta statues that depict the scene of the Death of Christ (Compianto sul Cristo Morto) by Niccolò del Arca made in 1462.

Quadrilatero – This charming neighborhood is full of food markets where you can find any of the many local and regional specialties: Mortadella, Tortellini, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Balsamic vinegar from Modena, Prosciutto di Parma, as well as fresh fruits, vegetables and fish. There are plenty of bars and small restaurants to grab something to eat as well. Because of its rich culinary offerings, one of Bologna’s nicknames is “La Grassa” (The Fat One).

Museo di Bologna The Museum of Bologna tells the history of the city in an interactive and modern setting within the historic Palazzo Pepoli.

Santo Stefano – Known in Bologna as the “Sette Chiese”, Santo Stefano is a complex of seven churches/religious structures from different eras and styles, all built on one site. 

Le Due Torri (the two towers) – Bologna was once a city full of towers (100 plus!) that have since been destroyed. The Asinelli and Garisenda towers, built at the beginning of the 1100’s, are the most famous towers that remain.  Climb up the 498 stairs of the Asinelli tower to get an amazing view of the city. Local superstition says that students of the University of Bologna who climb the tower during their studies will not graduate, so many wait until after graduation before ever climbing to the top.

La Pinacoteca - The National Art Gallery of Bologna is home to a wide range of paintings from the 13th to the 18th century, including works of art by Raphael, Perugino, Titian, Tintoretto, Giotto, Parmigianino, Guido Reni, and the Carracci brothers.

"Little Venice" - On via Piella you will find a small window that reveals one of the few above-ground canals that runs through the city. There are a series of other canals, all underground, that you can explore with a guide on foot or by raft.

Mambo - The Modern Art Museum of Bologna has a wonderful collection of works by Italian artists from after WWII to present. I highly recommend visiting the special gallery dedicated to my favorite Bolognese painter, Giorgio Morandi. Mambo is also home to a lovely bookshop and bar.

Cineteca – One of the most important in all of Europe, the Cineteca has an enormous archive of films which they restore and show to the public at the Cinema Lumière, or during the summer months under the stars in Piazza Maggiore.

San Luca - If you're looking for a little extra exercise (rain or shine), you can take a walk uphill to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca (or Basilica di San Luca) under the “portici”, the covered arcade that consists of 666 arches. From the top of the hill, which is located southwest of the city center, you can enjoy another lovely view of Bologna and will understand why the last of the city’s nicknames is “La Rossa” (literally, The Red One) because of the abundant use of terra cotta in the construction of the buildings and rooftops (…but also for the city’s communist leaning past). 

LUNCH:

È Leopardi Cucina di Cesare Maretti – A delicious, creative meal made with fresh ingredients at an excellent price. The menu changes daily, but always offers fish, meat and vegetarian options. (Only 10 euros for antipasto + primo + dessert + wine + coffee + water!)

Pasta Naldi - Fresh pasta made by three generations of women from the Naldi family. No indoor seating, but if you order take-out you can head to the nearest Piazza (San Francesco) or use the tables and benches of neighboring bars along via Pratello as long as you order a drink from them!

SfogliaRina - Fresh pasta dishes served in a charming, casual setting right in the city center. Their tortelloni are delicious!

PizzArtist - Casual take-out pizza by the slice. They offer a very well curated variety of fresh toppings and combinations that you won't find in the average pizzeria. Try a slice with zucchini, fior di latte and anchovies or broccoli rabe and sausage if you're feeling more adventurous, otherwise a more classic option is bufala, tomato and olives .

COFFEE:

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Terzi - Best coffee in Bologna hands down. They offer a variety of single origin coffees from around the world, and will sprinkle your cappuccino or caffé macchiato with freshly grated chocolate, served in a gold rimmed cup. They also offer a wide variety of teas and fresh squeezed juices.

Fram Cafè – A cute vegetarian café open all day with strong wifi and alternative milks (almond, soy, rice) otherwise hard to find in Italy.

Casa Minghetti – Super chic bar in the city center. Secure a spot at the bar to people watch as Bologna’s businessmen (and women) have their daily espressos. If it’s nice out, take your coffee outside and enjoy the view of the elegant Piazza Minghetti.

GELATO:

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In my opinion, these three gelaterie tie for the absolute best gelato in Bologna.  They each have amazing fresh fruit flavors (and granitas, too!), rich cream and chocolate flavors, as well as interesting flavor inventions of their own! 

Cremeria Funivia - My favorite is yoghurt and raspberry, but you cannot go wrong with any of the flavors here. A plus about the Cremeria Funivia is that it is located in front of a little park with benches where you can take your gelato to eat. 

Galliera Quarantanove Bottega Gelateria - Exceptional fresh fruit (or almond) granitas and gelato.   

Gelatauro - Offers a variety of more creative flavor offerings like brownie, ginger and pear, or spicy dark chocolate, along with classics like fior di latte, cream, chocolate chip and seasonal, fresh fruit flavors.

APERITIVO:

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Osteria del Sole - The oldest Osteria in Bologna dating back to 1465.  Here you can bring your own snacks or cured meats from nearby Salumerie for an aperitivo to enjoy with a glass or bottle of your choice from the wide selection of wines (and beers) offered by the Osteria. Keep in mind that it closes on the early side, around 9:30/10:00pm and is very popular with the locals. Large groups should reserve a table.

Fermento – A charming and down-to-earth bar with a well cared for selection of food and wines at very reasonable prices. It is located just outside the city center in the neighborhood near the train station called La Bolognina. Fermento is my go-to place with friends for excellent cocktails, artisanal beers, meat and cheese plates and focaccias.

Senza Nome - The first bar in Italy completely run by deaf individuals, the bar Senza Nome is a wonderful place to get an aperitivo that successfully integrates the hearing and non-hearing communities. Try ordering your drink by using Italian Sign Language (diagrams are featured on the wall for beginners), by writing down your order or using the printed out pieces of paper to hand to the barista, or by having your lips read.

Mercato delle Erbe - Food market during the day, restaurant and bar area by night. Here you can grab food & drinks in the market from a variety of stands and vendors.

Camera a Sud - A lovely place to grab a drink in the city center before (or after) dinner because of its creative and comfy atmosphere. 

DINNER:

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