If you're planning on visiting...
If you're planning on visiting Florence, put aside more than just one day. There's loads to see. Aaaahhh Florence....it holds a special place in my heart.
It was below this huge bell tower where I paid my respects to the victims of the Twin Tower disaster in New York with the world wide minutes silence. It was special....the whole place came to an absolute stand still for a minute.
Cover charges and tipping
When you are seated at an Italian restaurant, you should anticipate paying "coperto" or a cover charge, assessed on a per person basis. This ranges from something minimal to several euros, presumably depending upon the restaurant although I never analyzed this during our trip. Since the cover charge is intended to compensate the restaurant for the cost of doing business, including the employment of the wait staff, I was told not to apply the American standard of tipping 15% or more of the bill. Rather, the tradition seemed to be to put one's excess change on top of the credit card slip or cash to cover the meal. That sometimes resulted in several euros' "tip" but it would still be a fraction of what I'd pay at home, even if one included the coperto.
This is the Galleria...
This is the Galleria dell'Uffizi **(Gallery of the Offices). It was once the place where all the nobles and richmen held their conferences, meetings, etc;hence the name 'offices'.
Now it is one of the greatest Renaissance buildings in Europe. It contains endless amounts of paintings, sculputures and various other works of art that are priceless, most of them from the Renaissance age.
Starting in late may until late august, live jazz music concerts take place in several of Florence's piazzas. One in particular is Piazza Annunziata, where you can sit on the steps of Brunelleschi's Founding Hospital with local italians, listen to live jazz music, have a drink, and people watch.
Intimate, Quiet, Friendly and a Perfect Experience
Located near the hustle and bustle of the Mercato Centrale, La Congrega is an amazing shelter from a long day of sightseeing. The hostess, Maya, who appears to be the owner too, is a very friendly man who speaks excellent english and will offer you great tips on the foods he offers. If you want true Florentine cooking, this is a place as good as any. So good that I came here for two dinners. It's an intimate, dim atmosphere with nearly perfect service. Every dish I had here was perfect. Whether it is house wine, or his family created reserve, the chianti and florentine wines are as good as any I've had.
I'm very picky about food being too greasy or fattening. The food here is light, flavorful without being dominating. The food is nicely presented, healthy, no upset stomach the next day, digestable, and perfect on all levels. The atmosphere is homey, calm, sociable and relaxing. It was one of the best restaurants I ate at during my trip to Europe in 2005. A must if you are located within walking distance of San Lorenzo Cathedral.
Because I ordered a bottle and could not finish it, I asked Maya if he could hold the bottle for me as I knew I'd return to his restaurant. He obliged as if he were a true brother and 3 nights later, he had the same seat available to me with my half finished bottle waiting on the table. Everything I ate was good. But the bottle of his reserve chianti, which goes for around $40 Euro was as good as any wine I've ever had.