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  • Terrece Walker
  • "Florence, Venice & Milan: Day Trips & Local Hangouts (food & music)?"

Terrece Walker

New York, New York

Florence, Venice & Milan: Day Trips & Local Hangouts (food & music)?

Heading to Italy next month with a female friend (both in our early 30's), spending 3 nights in Florence, 2 nights in Venice and 2 nights in Milan and need your help:

*Any suggestions for a must-do day trip near Florence? Currently looking at one that goes to Sienna, Pisa, San Gimignano and a brief Chianti wine tour & lunch.

*What is there to do in Venice and Milan?

*Where are the locals? Where do they eat and hang out?

We love feeling a part of the culture and meeting new people, so while we'll do the obligatory tourist sites, we prefer to eat & hang with the locals. Any and all suggestions are welcome!

Thanks!

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  • Jaclyn Rutigliano Iervolino

    top answer by

    Spend most of your time in Tuscany over Venice and Milan.

    In Florence, my favorite place in the world, go to Ristorante La Giostra for dinner. It's a must. Also go to Il Latini for a fun Tuscan meal. It's sadly become a bit of a tourist scene (I started going 8 years ago when it was still word-of-mouth special) but the food is fantastic and the waiters are super fun and charming.

    Stay near the Arno-- there is a boutique Ferragamo hotel that is pretty great and reasonably priced. Don't stay near the Duomo or San Lorenzo Market. Too touristy and busy. Too many gypsies. My favorite square is Piazza della Signoria, Piazza della Repubblica, and Piazzale Michelangelo. Good shopping near Santa Croce, Borgo Pinti, and on the back streets near the Ponte Vecchio.

    Day trips-- MUST do a full day in Chianti in Tuscany . My personal favorite area in Tuscany though is in the Val D'Orcia-- going to Montepulciano, Montalcino and Pienza but it's a long day. Contact Katharine of Simply Firenze and mention I sent you. She pulls together fantastic private tours that are not your typical touristy ones and provide an authentic feeling.

    If you like shopping, go to The Mall- amazing outlet mall for designer brands. You can take the bus or train from Florence.

    In town, you MUST go across the Arno and walk up and hike throughout the parks to enjoy the city view. Great food across the river also. YOU HAVE TO go to the new food market upstairs at Mercato Centrale Firenze Srl. It is unbelievable.

    Milan is great but it's city life. Check out the art, go to the Prada flagship but like any major city it is expensive so keep that in mind. The duomo is amazing. They are hosting the World Expo now so they should have lots going on too.

    Venice is one of my least favorite places, to be honest. It's beautiful and a must see but it's very very touristy. San Marco Square is where the action is- climb to the top of the tower and see Croatia! Try to stay further away from the main area and get lost in the tiny cobble stoned streets to and from. DO NOT eat in the main square. The food is terrible. Venice is not known for the food- well, I guess if you like fish it could be good. What I loved was going to Murano Island. Sadly a lot of the Murano glass near Saint Marks is made in China so buyer BEWARE. When you go to murano, you can actually see it being made. It is a really neat experience.

    If you are looking for other alternatives-- consider Verona, Padova, Bologna, Modena.

    Love Italy! Enjoy it!!!!

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    • Brenda B.

      Brenda B.

      La Giostra...rock star chef and yummy. Pricey. · (0 likelikes)

    • Terrece W.

      Terrece W.

      Great suggestions! Thanks so much · (0 likelikes)

    Mentioned in this answer:

    1. Tuscany (state)
    2. Venice (city)
    3. Milan (city)
    4. Florence (city)
    5. Ristorante La Giostra (neighborhood)
    6. Il Latini (restaurant)
    7. Arno (attraction)
    8. Duomo (attraction)
    9. San Lorenzo Market (attraction)
    10. Piazza della Signoria (attraction)
    11. Piazza della Repubblica (attraction)
    12. Piazzale Michelangelo (attraction)
    13. Santa Croce (attraction)
    14. Borgo Pinti (attraction)
    15. Ponte Vecchio (attraction)
    16. Tuscany (state)
    17. Montepulciano (city)
    18. Montalcino (city)
    19. Pienza (city)
    20. The Mall (attraction)
    21. Mercato Centrale Firenze Srl (attraction)
    22. San Marco Square (attraction)
    23. Murano Island (attraction)
    24. Verona (city)
    25. Padova (city)
    26. Bologna (city)
    27. Modena (city)

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  • Russell Greene

    answered by

    Greetings Terrece,

    I will echo M. Mahaffy's suggestions of Gallery of The Academy & Uffizi Gallery as well as Duomo & Ponte Vecchio in Firenze; but would add Pitti Palace/Boboli Gardens, Stazione Firenze Santa Maria Novella & Basilica of Santa Croce to the to do list of major sites. Please help yourself and make reservations at the museums in advance (you will skip the line) and be sure to make reservations at any restaurant for dinner. Most restaurants in the city center see a good mix of local and tourist crowds but be wary of places offering "Tourist" menus and dishes that are out of season or not regionally specific. Also remember many sights are closed on Mondays, plan accordingly.

    Florence: If you have an especially clear day, take the city bus to Piazzale Michelangelo. Try Trattoria Cibrèo for lunch or dinner. Mercato Centrale Firenze Srl is well worth the visit (get supplies for a picnic or your hotel room downstairs and get a good snack and coffee upstairs, while finding souvenirs and personal items outside.) Just behind Cibreo is a market similar to Mercato Centrale but more "local." The Opera at St. Mark's English Church is an especially nice evening event that I highly suggest.

    Siena is a favorite of many but you cannot go wrong with any Tuscan hill town. I might suggest the Chianti wine tour over the others as this will bring you closer to the people of of Italy and at the same time show you the regional differences of the country. Plus you get wine. I would not try to do this all on one day trip . . . too much to see. You could easily organize yourself a trip to one of these towns and spend an entire day there. Most Towns are serviced by the Italian bus/rail system and tickets are inexpensive and buses run frequently. A wine tour must be guided and that would get pricey, but worth it. Tuscany is home to some of Italy's best cured meats and dried sausages. You cannot bring this stuff home so eat all you can while you are there.

    While in Venice please do see Murano Island. What they do with glass is spectacular. Also, Harry's is a must stop for the first time tourist and they know it. Pay your 10+ EURO for a Bellini and get your seat for 15 minutes. Drink it, and laugh about it the rest of your life. Venezia is a seafood city so indulge yourself. You will get lost . . . alot, but that is part of the charm.

    I have never been to Milan, but I will again echo M. Mahaffy with the suggestion of visiting the last supper. Maybe look at another day trip from Milan, perhaps to Comer See.

    Buon Viaggio.


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    • Terrece W.

      Terrece W.

      Awesome suggestions - thank you! · (0 likelikes)

    Mentioned in this answer:

    1. Gallery of The Academy (attraction)
    2. Uffizi Gallery (attraction)
    3. Duomo (attraction)
    4. Ponte Vecchio (attraction)
    5. Pitti Palace (hotel)
    6. Boboli Gardens (attraction)
    7. Stazione Firenze Santa Maria Novella (attraction)
    8. Basilica of Santa Croce (attraction)
    9. Florence (city)
    10. Piazzale Michelangelo (attraction)
    11. Trattoria Cibrèo (restaurant)
    12. Mercato Centrale Firenze Srl (attraction)
    13. St. Mark's English Church (attraction)
    14. Siena (city)
    15. Venice (city)
    16. Murano Island (attraction)
    17. Comer See (city)

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  • Scott Mahaffy

    answered first by

    Hello Terrece! Your day trip list from Florence is fantastic! Hard to go wrong with any of those and would all be great choices. Unfortunately, this will limit some things you will be able to do in Florence, with such a limited time there. While this restaurant does get tourists, it still gets a lot of locals. It serves traditional Florentine dishes and their pan fried chicken in butter is unreal. The restaurant is called Trattoria Sostanza. Just make sure yoU have advance reservations. I think the "can't misses " in Florence are Duomo,The Baptistery of St. John, Uffizi Gallery, and probably Gallery of The Academy with Michelangelo's David, and Ponte Vecchio. As for Venice, I would say the must sees are San Marco Square and the Doge's Palace. Murano Island for glass blowing, if that intrigues you. I also really enjoyed Peggy Guggenheim Collection and Scuola Grande Di San Rocco. Harry's Bar is also an old Hemingway hangout where you can try the birthplace of the Bellini. Oh, get lost, and enjoy it. It's fun to just happen upon a random Piazza, chill, grab a cocktail and people watch. I have not been to Milan, but first on my list would be to see "The Last Supper." Hope that helps and have a fantastic time!

    Florenceimage from airpano.com

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    • Brenda B.

      Brenda B.

      I would add the Pitti Palace. Liked it better than the Uffize. Beautiful grounds and alot to see. I would not do a side trip with two days in Florence. Just walk the city, eat, climb the duomo, it's a minimum two day feast for your soul! · (0 likelikes)

    Mentioned in this answer:

    1. Florence (city)
    2. Trattoria Sostanza (restaurant)
    3. Duomo (attraction)
    4. The Baptistery of St. John (attraction)
    5. Uffizi Gallery (attraction)
    6. Gallery of The Academy (attraction)
    7. Ponte Vecchio (attraction)
    8. San Marco Square (attraction)
    9. Doge's Palace (attraction)
    10. Murano Island (attraction)
    11. Peggy Guggenheim Collection (attraction)
    12. Scuola Grande Di San Rocco (attraction)
    13. Harry's Bar (attraction)

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  • Edmondo Febbrari

    answered by

    Two days ago I was in Florence and I went to the Mercato Centrale Firenze Srl

    http://www.mercatocentrale.it/mercato-centrale-firenze/

    It is in the city center near the train station and is a popular place to go for lunch.

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  • Peter Dorfman

    answered by

    A day trip that includes Siena, San Gimignano and Pisa seems a little hectic. Siena is easily worth a day all by itself.

    Oh lord, Venice...there are so many riches. By all means do the tourist stuff (skip the gondola ride -- horrendously expensive, and walking is so much fun). Ca' Rezzonico is my favorite place for art, but it's only one. The Doge's Palace is totally worth it. Venice is an expensive place to eat; if you like beer, Italy's beer culture isn't well recognized, but try Birraria la Corte. Be open to the idea of eating really late -- the locals do. Do you have a hotel in Venice? My fave is Hotel Saturnia & International, a fairly short walk from the San Marco Square.

    Had a very nice meal at Ristorante Osteria Zio Gigi in Florence, just around the corner from the Duomo. That seemed to be a local hangout. The owner likes to sing.

    Honestly, I wasn't wowed by Milan. If you like opera, see what you can do about tickets to La Scala.

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    2. Venice (city)
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    6. Hotel Saturnia & International (hotel)
    7. San Marco Square (attraction)
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    10. Milan (city)

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  • Kathy Witsil

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    Strongly recommend the day trip upside of Province of Florence. Great smaller towns and views and wine!

    In Venice, just wander the streets and enjoy! You can also take a short water taxi out to Murano Island and see the glass factories. Very fun trip for your second day.

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  • Edmondo Febbrari

    answered by

    Hi, when in Florence go to the roof top bar/cafe in the store La Rinascente in Piazza della Repubblica and you will get the most beautiful views of Duomo and Giotto's tower bell as well as the a square. It's really an amazing place to enjoy Florence with a glass of chilled prosecco.

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  • Maria O'Dwyer

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    Steer clear of Piazza San Marco and Rialto in Venice if you want to eat with locals. Instead get off at San Stae waterbus stop and walk straight up...lots of lovely local places there including La Zucca (a small vegetarian restaurant also serves some meat and fish) In Milan go to the Navigli district, on the canal, where you will find lots and lots of good places to eat. Get off at Porta Genova metro stop and walk across the bridge. Go early for apperitivi - buy a drink and eat for free from 6pm.

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  • Edmondo Febbrari

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    When you visit Florence, don't forget to go to San Gimignano (it is a fab town with lots of towers from the Middle Ages. It is where "Tea with Mussolini " was filmed). Siena is a must too! I prefer it to Florence to be honest.

    After Venice I would suggest not to miss Verona and Lake Garda(Sirmione, Limone sul Garda, Bardolino and all the other towns on the lake are wonderful. Park the car and walk to the town Center, do not drive past or you won't see the real beauty of the place).

    If you happen to go to Bologna, the city has got 40 km arcades, go on top of the Two Towers. The view is amazing and the tower is slightly bent. On the way to Milan you could stop in Parma and visit the Teatro Farnese, the most beautiful theatre I've ever seen. It is all made of wood, original and dates back to 1618! The pictures the you can find on line do not give it justice. In Parma the Battistero is very beautiful too.

    If you have time I wouldn't miss Cinque Terre (the five lands, five stunning villages on the Costa Ligure di Levante, between La Spezia and Génova) and Portofino. In beauty it can compete with the Amalfi Coast.

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