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Italy Tips

I made it back home to Paris today. I’m on a high from Alt Summit and will try to post some highlights from the week tomorrow. As soon as I got back I emptied my suitcase and started packing for a little trip to Pisa, Florence and Venice. Does anyone have hotel recommendations for Florence and Venice? I’m looking for something special, clean, that isn’t crazy expensive. I’m always grateful for food recommendations too!


photo from Urban Country 1st Dibs via Bonnie

  1. Becky

    January 23, 2012

    We really loved this small guest house in Florence (; it is literally ON Piazza Della Signoria. It may be a little too pricey (we were on our honeymoon) but the location, accommodations, and hosts were top notch and definitely special. We stayed in the Beatrice room. Enjoy Italy!

  2. Caroline, No

    January 23, 2012

  3. Elizabeth

    January 23, 2012

    These two places in Florence are worth a look: and

  4. Kristin Nicole

    January 23, 2012

    If you’re willing to go a bit outside the main area in Venice, I would definitely recommend Camping Fusina ( It’s been a few years since I stayed there, but they rented these little mobile homes that were very clean and private, with 2 bedrooms (w/single beds) each. The campground itself has a little cafe/bar, a nightclub, and a little shop.

    It’s definitely not right in the hustle and bustle, but I don’t remember too much trouble getting to and from the main areas of Venice, and I remember being really surprised and impressed by the quality.

    Have fun! I studied abroad in Verona, and I miss it all the time 🙂

  5. Beki

    January 23, 2012

    Lucca is a town between Florence and Pisa and is lovely. We stayed here in the summer and the rooms and hospitality were perfect

  6. Jora

    January 23, 2012

    There are many great spots in both Florence and Venice (obviously!)…but I do think that Il Latini in Florence is worth the hype. Really, really fun with great food. Good family environment too. Perche no? is supposed to be the best gelato. Not sure if it’s the best out there, but we think it’s fabulous!

  7. Mags

    January 23, 2012

    Alt Summit AND Italy? How lucky can a girl get? 😉

    When I visited Florence and Venice, we stayed in convents both times; they’re often lovely old buildings themselves, and while the rooms are usually modest the rates are, too. Sadly I can’t remember the place we stayed in Florence, but in Venice we stayed at the Istituto San Giuseppe ( It could not have been more picturesque — gorgeous exterior, situated right on the canal, within easy walking distance of Piazza San Marco and other tourist sites (but itself tucked away on a quiet side street). As I recall, the nuns didn’t speak much English (and sadly I spoke less Italian), but a little bit of charades back and forth covered the essentials…

    Have a lovely time!

  8. Jessi

    January 23, 2012

    When I studied in Florence, we stayed here at Hotel Silla. It’s right across the river, so not directly downtown in Florence, but obviously you could just walk across the bridge. I liked that it was closer to local shops and restaurants and not just the typical places downtown. Have a great stay! I wish I was visiting Florence again!

  9. Margot

    January 23, 2012

    Food recommendations for Florence!
    – You should look out for ‘apperitivo,’ drinks and (free) unlimited appetizers.
    – Za-Za’s, the most amazing champagne risotto, and my absolute favorite Tuscan dish, pappa al pomodoro, a thick tomato bread soup.
    – You have to get a picnic together and go to PIAZZALE MICHELANGELO. There is a bus that runs from the bus/train station, I don’t remember which bus it was but you can ask when you get there. The most beautiful views of Florence, definitely worth the trek up there!
    – Mercato Centrale, you can find 4 euro pastas here and other delicious goods.
    – And Il Latini, definitely.


  10. -kim

    January 23, 2012

    Hotel il Porcellino in florence was lovely when we stayed there. perfect walking distance to everything. while in venice, we stayed on the island of Lido….it was just a water taxi away from venice, and away from all the crazy…and not so touristy. enjoy!

  11. Sarah D

    January 23, 2012

    Loved this trattoria when I studied in Florence!

  12. Natalie

    January 23, 2012

    Definitely rent an apartment for a few days in Venice. after college, I went traveling in Europe for a summer, and when we got to Venice, our hostel screwed up the reservation, and had no room for us. We ended up renting an apartment from a restaurant owner for a few days… his restaurant was AMAZING and his rental unit overlooked a small square. It was truly an Italian experience I will never forget!

  13. Blessing @ Working Mom Journal

    January 23, 2012

    I would love to visit Italy someday!

  14. DENISE of Hello, Moxie!

    January 23, 2012

    I don’t have recommendations about food or places to stay … just a super important recommendation for how to enjoy Venice. I’ve been there — oh gosh — more than a handful of times. The absolute BEST way to see it is to get lost. Literally GET LOST. On purpose. It’s hard to follow directions because of so many little tiny alleyways and such. But that’s also the magical part of the city. Start at the train station or the St. Mark’s Square. And just start wandering. The beauty is that you’ll never get lost. You are on a tiny island surrounded by water. I promise you’ll come across charming food spots and great shops. And you’ll see signs and arrows to all of the things you want to see. Do it all day long. And then just take a water taxi back to your hotel. Ooooh, you’ll have so much fun! I can’t wait to hear about it.

  15. Jordan G @ The Happy Homebodies

    January 23, 2012

    My husband and I stayed at Hotel Berchielli in Florence over the Thanksgiving holiday and really loved it. It’s an easy location for walking to sites and has a charming exterior w/ views of the river. Good breakfast with some American staples like pancakes and eggs. (We were so grateful for that after eating the Italian breakfasts at the other hotels.) We really loved the Antiche Figure hotel in Venice. GREAT, friendly service! Have fun!

  16. Erica

    January 23, 2012

    I stayed at the Hotel Mario in Florence, and it was fantastic! Reasonably priced, just a few blocks from the train station, and extremely close to the downtown area.

    I also recommend visiting Lucca while you’re in Italy – a small, walled-in city that’s perfect for wandering because you can’t really get lost!

  17. Jude

    January 23, 2012

    I have stayed at locanda ai barateri which is between San marco and the rialto bridge – perfectly central but still off a little back alley.. Not too pricey for central location.


    Querini Stampalia Foundation is fab, highly recommend its beautiful little private garden…

    Have fun!

  18. Amy

    January 23, 2012

    Ditto on the Za-za’s! Best food in Florence.

  19. Joanne

    January 23, 2012

    I stayed at the Hotel Cellai in Florence, after a recommendation on Secret Places. I reviewed it on Trip Advisor here:

    It’s adorable and really quaint. When we visited there was an antique market just down the street. I also at at ZaZa’s, as someone mentioned – super fun!

  20. laura

    January 23, 2012

    ooh! in Florence the gelateria at the end of the Ponte Santa Trinita opposite the Ferragamo flagship store is SO good! they had mascarpone, hazelnut, ridiculously good chocolate… all the delicious flavors really, i can’t even remember them all now! my husband and i went to florence and rome on our honeymoon and basically ate nothing but gelato and this was hands down the best place we thought. have fun!

  21. Ria

    January 23, 2012

    Le Volpi e l’Uva is by far the best place for wine in Florence. It is affordable and local.

    Quattro Leoni- highlighting Tuscan cuisine just across the Arno

    Pugi- located around the corner from l’Universita w/ David. This bakery has the most amazing Tuscan bread and pizza by the kilo. Your kids will love it.

    Buca Lapi- very old, authentic Florentine food

    Mercato Sant’Ambrogio- very good, affordable lunch inside the glassed-in cafe. Make sure to order the cheap chianti by the glass. This is a good place for kids.

    Il Pizzaiuolo- great pizza, busy with locals on the weekends. You can order take out and eat in the nearby square or park.

    La Bottega del Cioccolato- beautiful, tasty chocolates made by a young, creative pastry chef

    and for hotels, try They always have good options.

  22. alona

    January 23, 2012

    My husband and I stayed at an amazing BandB right on Piazza Della Republica in Florence, called La Dimora del Centro. Amazing all around.

    Yummy Food in Florence:
    Cantinetta Dei Verrazzano – Via Dei Tavolini 18/20 R – amazing place for lunch (the pea crostini is a must have)
    Il Latini, Via Dei Palchetti, 6R – for authentic florentine steak, family style table seating
    La Giostra – Borgo Pinti, 10R – looks touristy, but has great food & amusing ambience. best tiramisu i’ve ever had!
    Antico Noe – Volta Di San Piero – hard to find and a bit out of the way, but great fresh pasta

  23. Kate

    January 23, 2012

    We stayed here – – when we went to Florence this spring. Loved it. We had a balcony and amazing views of the Duomo. Very sweet staff – all two of them – as well.

  24. The New Diplomats Wife

    January 23, 2012

    Food and coffee recommedations for Venice – Venice is really one of those cities where it makes sense to think through where you want to eat in advance, even for snacks since you will definitely find quite a few places that will leave you with the wrong impression and cuisine in Venice can really be great if done right.

    agreed an apartment is probs the way to go, but you can also try Oltre Il Giardino, or

    also, Ca’ Pisani can have really good rates sometimes:

    Basically there really isn’t a cheap way to stay in venice, esp carnival time – However, given that esp with kiddies you won’t be partying to the wee hours (and honestly, the parties don’t really go too much past 11/12), you can always consider staying in Mestre (on the mainland, a ton cheaper) then just take in the train each morning and evening, It’s more complicated, but a very real option if cost is an issue, and either way, take the train in at least once and make sure you’re standing by the window the last 5-10 minutes or so. As my father told me, and he was right, there is nothing like seeing Venice coming out of the water. Best view is on the left side of the train heading in.

  25. tessarh

    January 23, 2012

    This B&B in Florence is the best – run by a cute family just across the Arno.

    It’s also right by one of best pizza places in Florence too – Gusta Pizza. Yum!

  26. Cathryn Ramsden

    January 23, 2012

    In Venice, stay at Pensione Calcina which is amazing, and in Florence, eat at Aqua al Due which is away from the tourist hordes and the wine is amazing. I used to live in Florence, I miss it so much, Have a great time.

  27. Laura Bear

    January 23, 2012

    your blog makes me happy. Have a wonderful trip! xo

  28. Hawlie Ohe

    January 23, 2012


    My husband and I can’t say enough good things about Anna at B&B “A LE MANSARDE” in Venice. In addition to great accommodations and food, Anna teaches authentic Venetian cooking classes. One afternoon, she even let my husband and I accompany her to the Rialto fish market for a insiders look at how important this market is to the way of life for Venetians (I blogged it here She has been featured on BBC and the Boston Globe:

  29. kristen

    January 23, 2012

    oh my goodness. i love all these comments. we are going to tuscany this summer to stay in a villa for two weeks. me and nineteen of my fave friends and family. i can hardly wait. i want to travel all over the country, so these tips are so appreciated.

  30. Lauren

    January 23, 2012

    The BEST b&b in Venice:

    I was fortunate enough to find this gem and stayed here in July! For more of a taste of Venice, Rome and Florence, you read up on my summer travels on my blog:

  31. Chelsea

    January 23, 2012

    My husband and I went to Italy in November, and stayed at the NH Porta Rossa in Florence. The location was perfect, price was right, and the hotel was modern and very clean!

  32. Clermont

    January 23, 2012

    I was just in Italy for the first time in October and went to Florence and Venice. I wouldn’t recommend the B&B where we stayed in Florence, but I highly recommend the Hotel Adler in Venice. We found out about it through Rick Steves and stayed there in October. It was nice and affordable. Our bathroom was across the hall, but we really didn’t mind. The hotel is above the most impressive produce and seafood market I’ve ever seen.

    For food, go to Il Latini in Florence. It is family style and they will just keep bringing you food. It was delicious and a great experience.

  33. Christine

    January 23, 2012

    We stayed at Ferragamo’s Continentale! Our room was big, beautiful and budget friendly. They also kindly upgraded us to a room with a view of the Ponte Vecchio.

  34. Steph

    January 23, 2012

    In Florence, we stayed at the Hotel Santa Maria Novella. ( It’s a beautiful hotel walking distance from the train station, which was excellent, and everything else in Florence is walking distance anyway!
    I hated where I stayed in Venice, so I won’t recommend that. But I know someone who stayed at the Hotel Splendid Venice ( and loved that one.

  35. Jess

    January 23, 2012

    That picture is too funny! I love it! Jealous of your Alt Summit adventure!

  36. Nikki Rappaport

    January 23, 2012

    We loved this hotel in Florence! (ugly name, but they have an amazing breakfast every morning!)

    In Florence, you must go get the rice gelato at Vivoli ( and the buratta at il pizzaiuolo ( Also for a great meal, check out Nanamuta (near the hotel above)

    Have a wonderful trip!!

  37. Michelle

    January 23, 2012

    When we were in florence we stayed here It is just around the corner from the Duomo on a street full of great little shops including some good gelaterias.

  38. Kendra

    January 23, 2012

    If you’re going to rent a car at all, instead of staying in Florence or Pisa, I’d highly recommend staying just outside of Florence in a more family friendly Tuscan villa and day tripping to Florence and Pisa (if you have time, San Gimignano and Sienna are awesome too!) We stayed here this summer and it was divine! Any B&B or Inn in San Casciano is a great bet since it’s a small working town that had laundry mats, grocery stores (and markets) and a post office (if you dare.) Florence isn’t as kid friendly as Paris, but I’m sure it’s no different than Rome. Have fun!!

  39. Kelli Anderson

    January 23, 2012

    i love that picture frame idea.

  40. The Glamorous Housewife

    January 23, 2012

    We will be spending 10 days in Florence this summer. I found this blog to be excellent:

    Thanks doll,
    The Glamorous Housewife

  41. Allie

    January 23, 2012

    Two of our absolute favorite restaurants – Acqua al Due and Il Latini. Have the balsamic steak at Acqua and you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven. Be sure to get there early at Il Latini – they only do a couple of seatings and it’s ALWAYS packed.

  42. Allie

    January 23, 2012

    Both are in Florence! (Sorry, forgot to mention that!) 🙂

  43. Kat

    January 23, 2012

    We used when we went to Italy last spring. We stayed an amazing home in Prato (a city outside of Florence). We also stayed in a home in the Tuscan countryside. The airbnb experience is great because you get to meet locals (or in our case locals and ex-pats living in Italy) and stay in their lovely homes!

  44. shelly

    January 23, 2012

    Gulliver House is a cute and quiet hostel that I stayed in Florence that was very cute, very clean and very cheap.

  45. Ana

    January 23, 2012

    In Florence, we loved Trattoria Cibrèo-Cibreino and Del Fagioli (which is located about ten steps from Santa Croce). Both were from the Michelin red guide, which I can’t recommend enough!

  46. maggie

    January 23, 2012

    you must go to grom for gelato!

  47. Mandy

    January 23, 2012

    Definitely Il Latini for food – I loved it both times I was in Florence. The first time we waited in line and got in very late with another group of Americans and ended up going out for drinks with the wait staff at the end of the night. The second time I think we made reservations. I regret not bringing home a bottle of the Chianti. Also I would second the “get lost” in Venice advice. You will come to an intersection that has the same place in different directions. We just wandered all day and then figured out where we were at the end of the day. The second time I had much less time there and we stayed in the main areas and not as much of the experience. If there is any chance of rain bring rain boots with you – the streets flood and they put up these planks but they only go so far. They sell these bags with plastic bottomed feet but they don’t last very long. I stayed in those tent cabins in Venice the first time I went (not sure if the same place someone mentioned above). It was clean as I remember, the bathrooms were in a different building and the walls (I think they were canvas) were pretty thin – we could hear the people next door.

  48. Liz

    January 23, 2012

    In Florence if you want clean, good price, great front desk service(will make reservations for you), and walking distance to everything….stay at we loved it.
    And just for the total experience of a long, lingering, italian dinner, with more food and wine than you can fathom…you must go to ‘il latini’…it was our funnest night in Florence….

  49. Holly

    January 23, 2012

    Quatro Leoni – get the FIOCCHETTI ALLE PERE CON SALSA DI TALEGGIO E ASPARAGI (Pear stuffed pasta pouches with a creamy asparagus sauce) – it’s amazing!

  50. Debbie

    January 23, 2012

    Hotel perseo in Florence. We stayed there with our 2 yr old. Super friendly, great breakfast, and right smack dab by the duomo. I could take the kid to the hotel at night while he went back out to take night shots of the city. It was magical. I think we got it for 130 euro a night. Spendy to some,but worth it! Oh and you drive right up and they park your car for you! So worth it! Oh and our room had a queen with a day bed that lifted up to a bunk bed. Such a fabulous city! Have tons of fun!

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