By Shubhra Krishan
As someone who believes in stumbling upon great places, I decided to ditch the guidebooks/blogs/local advice and plunged straight into Florence.
Stepping out of the magnificent Santa Maria Novella Railway Station.
I wended my way through the crowded streets of the city…asking for directions to The Gallery Hotel Art. Incidentally, this is a cool and comfortable hotel in the city’s heart: highly recommend it!
Know Before You Go: Set in a quiet courtyard near the Arno River and Ponte Vecchio and close to Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, the Gallery Hotel Art boasts light, dynamic and funky spaces. It is Florentine innovative artistry at its best.
Along the way, hunger pangs hit. Hard. And since I was in Italy, the fragrance of herbs and the aroma of baked bread was everywhere. Honestly, I could hardly wait to drop my bags at the hotel and get back on the streets for a bite.
Strung along a pipe-thin lane, I spotted a string of eateries that promised big meals at incredible deals. Smiling restaurant staff stood outside their outlets, handing out colourful pamphlets that promised a free drink with pizza and seemingly endless menus.
I succumbed. And regretted it minutes later. The pizza was cold and leathery, with about 3 olives that tasted as if they had been glued atop the bread a month ago. Sure, it cost me “just 4 euros” for pizza and coke, but I would rather have spent a few bucks more to get a better bite.
I am sure the giant plastic chef standing outside the restaurant, holding that huge menu card, giggled a little when I walked in.
Moral of the story: do your research when you are going to Florence. Or anywhere in peak tourist season.
What I Know Now ( Florence, Italy: Restaurants)
If a restaurant has an extensive menu with country flags beside dish names, it’s likely a tourist trap.
Staff are standing on the streets, trying to wave you in. Red flag, mostly.
Location is a significant indicator. The closer you are to a famous landmark, the likelier you are to get overpriced and underwhelming food.