Florence, for body and soul

Piazza del Duomo

Florence in winter is a delight. You can get even into the Uffizi without queuing. Stand quietly in front of your favourite paintings or frescos for as long as you like without crowds around you all the time.  And when you feel like feeding body rather than soul, get into decent restaurants which are half-empty. It can certainly be cold: but with luck, you’ll be able to walk around under blue skies. We hadn’t expected snow, though! Nor had the Florentines, judging by the way everything ground to a complete halt for a day. But it did all look wonderful.

If you happen to be in Tuscany before January 23, do go to the Bronzino exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi. It is a unique opportunity to see some 80% of Bronzino’s surviving paintings together. And the exhibition is quite beautifully put together and wonderfully presented (the contrast with the Uffizi’s dreadfully drear hanging could hardly be greater). And if you have the chance, get yourself on one of the weekly tours of the Contini Bonacossi collection acquired by the Uffizi a dozen years ago and still not on general display. It includes the wonderful Veronese portrait of Iseppo da Porto and his young son which we liked so much at the Louvre last year.

We ate well (surprise, surprise). These are the three places we’ll definitely go back to (and they will still be there after January 23rd, so make a note!):

  • Cibrèino (Trattoria Cibrèo) Via de’ Macci 122/r. This shares a kitchen of the very expensive Cibrèo restaurant next door: but you will eat as well for less than half the price. (You can’t book, and might have to share a table if there are only two of you.)
  • Olio & Convivium Via Santo Spirito 4. A modern take on Tuscan food — we liked the atmosphere, the food, and the stunning wine list.
  • Cantinetta dei Verrazzano Via dei Tavolini, 18/r. Fantastic place if you want a light (not cheap!) lunch.
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