TGI Florence: 6 Insider Ways To Enjoy This Magical Italian City


Yesterday, we took the high speed train from Rome to Florence. So enjoyable! (Unlike Amtrak in the US. I'm thinking specifically of the conductor who went out of his way to embarrass me recently when I tried to buy a ticket from Stamford to PVD, after having already boarded the train. Take a lesson from Italia you rude, rude man.)

Once there, we were lucky enough to hang out with a RI native who also makes her home, for part of the year, in Italy. Can I just tell you what a difference it is to explore with someone who speaks the language flawlessly and is an expert in the food and wine? (Yup.) Now, if you don't happen to have a friend like this to show you around, you'll want to scan this list of key things (in addition to some of the more classic tourist destinations like the Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery, etc.) to see and do during your trip to Firenze.

  1. Visit the wall of chocolate at Venchi and pick up a few boxes to bring home. Pretty certain they are not gettable in the States. It's where Italians get their choc fix. 
  2. Shop for leather. But probably not at the outdoor markets. Also, avoid any stores plastered with Outlet signs. It's probably a scam. We found a legit storefront, where the bags, jackets, and wallets looked, and felt, luxe, but at a fraction of the price of a line like, say, Bottega Veneta. 
  3. Take a selfie at the Ponte Vecchio (Totally tourist-y but everyone's doing it!) and spy the 'love locks' on display nearby. A backlash or response to them being taken down in Paris maybe?
  4. Copy cat the locals and take a 2+ hour lunch. With wine of course. (WE loved Coquinarius.) No time, or place, for an Italian 'siesta' immediately following? Make sure to have an espresso or Americano as an end note to your meal. Then, get out and start walking in the fresh air. It's the only way to avoid what we'd call in America (How you say...?) a food coma.
  5. Yes, Michelangelo is the man, but for all you fashion junkies, don't forget Gucci. (I speak Italian - Gucci, Ferragamo, Loro Piana.) Specifically, the Museo Gucci on the Piazza della Signoria with exhibits of vintage bags, clothing, and more. 
  6. Get gelato at Edoardo. It's all organic and equally as important, deliciouso. Def another spot where the locals and visitors-in-the-know go. The list of flavors and seasonal specials (Pear and choc chip 4ever! Or at least until pear season's over here.) is as long as the line we waited in to order. Also, they don't take (credit) cards, so make sure you have Euros.

Ciao for Now,

Patty J


Photos: All pics courtesy of

Thursday Thoughts: Lose The Map & Wander Here

Traveling is a tricky thing... sometimes we find we feel uncomfortable venturing off into the 'local' sections, but being in Rome right now is different. 

Most people stay in the popular area filled with other tourists, but after staying here for a while, we so wanted to branch out. Today, we went to the Via del Boschetto neighborhood and absolutely loved it!

Think Wickenden Street, add some Broadway, and this is what you get: Via Del Boschetto is filled with vintage stores, cute cafes, many "bars" (aka coffee shops that also serve wine), handcrafted jewelry boutiques, consignment shops... so many hidden gems! (#Truthfully - It's been named one of the best shopping streets in Rome by Conde Nast editors, bloggers, and shopaholics alike.)
My advice to you is to step out of the tourist zone, and find yourself some local. Rome is a walking city and from what we've experienced, super safe, with mild weather to boot. Bring a cute pair of sneakers, and a portable iPhone charger, and you'll be all set!

Team Patty J


Photo Credits: All photos courtesy of

When In Roma: The Restaurant Where Locals & People In The Know Go

Mostly because we're running out of clean clothes (#grateful for Zara here) and I'm afraid to send my stuff to the hotel laundry because there's a chance it could get fried in the dryer (For the record, I'm anti-dryer unless we're talking about things like sheets and towels.), I asked B. to ask the concierge for a casual restaurant nearby with great food. When he started recommending, I distinctly heard him mention truffles which (in my mind) usually equal fancy, and pricey, so that place def got the kibosh. We also looked it up online and spied something about dark wood paneling and elegance. Does that sound cas? Uhhh, no.

Later, we ended up hanging out at the rooftop bar of the hotel, where you can get wine, mixed drinks, olives (fantastic ones actually), chips, and outstanding views of the city. There we met a guy visiting Rome on biz, who basically spent an hour trying to ingratiate himself into our group and our conversation. (Be warned - This happens a lot when your group includes a size 2, 20-something, socialable, blonde-ish girl.) He did tell us about this fab restaurant, hidden away nearby on one of the quieter side streets, where locals and tourists-in-the-know go, so guess there was an upside. (One more thing - he really wanted us to know he lives in the Hamptons and has a house in Miami...Whatevs.)

To the restaurant we went and as soon as we started digging in to the food, I knew I was going to be blogging about it. First off (and our friend with the multiple residences had told us this already), you get a menu, but that's essentially the end of any traditional ordering process. What they do after the menu drop is start bringing over plates to share, kinda/sorta based off your initial comments/requests when you sat down. Family style. Now, I think B. would agree that almost everything was incredible - the white beans with olive oil, the stuffed artichokes, the pasta fagioli, the pasta w/cheese and pepper, the mushrooms, the ravioli, the spaghetti, and the 3-4 other dishes I'm probably omitting due to the red wine which accompanied them. (For the record, B. did not like the beef carpaccio, but we've heard again & again that beef is really not the thing to order in Italy.) The dishes were also not loaded down with layers of cheese, which is way too common at most of the eateries that thrive on feeding the waves of tourists. (Yea, too much cheese is a thing here.)

Beyond the dishes, the interior of the restaurant is charming in that late 20th century, 'your grandmother's kitchen' (and specifically NOT the dining room, which was most likely cordoned off for special occasions, like visits from the relatives from Italy or something) sense and one of the waiters did remind us of Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow. He even sang an Italian song on Snapchat with B. Our waiter, who gets points for even knowing what Snapchat is, had a running joke that the restaurant has the best food, but horrible service. ("You cannot have both.") Despite his refrain however, our service was in fact good and more consistent than a lot of the other cafes and bistros we've visited in the last few days. (We've found that the wait people tend to take your order, bring it to the table, and then, basically forget about you and disappear.) So, if you're ever in Rome - and I hope you are! - give this place a go:

Hostaria da Pietro, Trattoria Romana, Via di Gesu e maria, 18 - 00187 Roma


Ciao for Now,

Patty J


Photo Credits: All photos courtesy of us