Editor’s note: Writer Ondine Cohane and her husband, John Voigtmann, recently opened La Bandita, an inn in Pienza, outside Siena.
Alla Vecchia Bettola Florence is famous for its old-school trattorias, and one of the best is this place off the main tourist drag. At lunch, the benches are filled with businessmen; at dinner, it’s foodies. Tender agnello al forno con patate (baked lamb with potatoes) and truffle-packed taglierini con tartufo are just two of the extremely good classic dishes. Viale Vasco Pratolini 3/7; 011-39-055-224-158.
Dolci & Dolcezze In a town not known for its pastries, this 15-year-old bakery is a Florence institution. The lovely Art Deco shop displays the day’s tarts, many topped with wild berries, in the front window. Inside, Florentine biddies sip espresso at the bar and eat cream-stuffed cornetti; Italy’s answer to the croissant is usually dense, but these are light and flaky. Piazza Beccaria 8/r; 011-39-055-234-5458.
Sant’Agostino 23 At this hip new restaurant, terrific young chef Mirko Innocenti mixes traditional Tuscan dishes like bistecca alla fiorentina, made with Tuscany’s famed Chianina beef (his tasty burgers use the same meat), with lighter options, like an exceptional taglioni con bottarga (pasta with dried fish roe). Via Sant’Agostino 23/r; 011-39-055-210-208.
Riva Lofts Designed by Claudio Nardi, one of Florence’s most famous living architects, this boutique hotel opened late last year on the banks of the Arno. Its nine suites, outfitted with floor-to-ceiling windows and oversize furniture, feel more like chic apartments than hotel rooms. As an added bonus, guests can use free bicycles to bypass Florence’s notorious traffic. Doubles from $260; Via Baccio Bandinelli 98; 011-39-055-713-0272.
Tre Cristi This recently renovated spot near the Campo has been around for almost two centuries. Besides serving some of the region’s most inventive seafood—like just-caught prawns with an Italian version of tuna tartare—it boasts a fine wine cellar with bottles like Masciarelli’s Trebbiano Marina Cveti, made from a grape usually used in vin santo. Vicolo di Provenzano 17; 011-39-057-728-0608.