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Jan 28, 2010 09:14 AM

Florence & Venice Food-tinerary

Though our trip is still a couple months away (March), I have restaurant reservations already in hand for Venice! Not so much for Florence (which we will be visiting first). And while you're likely to point me to past posts (and I've done a bit of research), I'm still at a loss and a bit overwhelmed by the info.

Working backwards, for Venice, I have two dinner reservations; one for Il Ridotto and the second for Il Refolo (taking the gondola back to our hotel near San Marco). B'fast will be at the hotel and we plan to lunch at Fiaschetteria Toscana for risotto . Other options include Taverna San Trovaso or cichetti @ Cantinone Gia Schiavi/vini al Bottegon.

In Florence, our hotel does not include b'fast. So I'm thinking of doing pastry either at the Bar Piccioli or Bar Curtatone and picking up lunch from various cheese, prosciutto, sandwich shops. But as mentioned earlier, I'm at a complete loss for our three dinners. I've consulted various lists and have come up with:

Enoteca Pinchiorri
Alle Murate

Any thoughts? All suggestions welcome. Thank you! =)

Oh, BTW, I plan to purchase food stuffs of dried porcini, olive oil, balsamic vinegar & hard cheeses (noting the current thread of food gifts to bring back). Anything in particular that I should look for when purchasing these items? Also, what cookies/candies should I bring back to the office?

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  1. My only suggestion is to consider eating more of your main meals at lunch as Italians do rather than in the evening. Its so much more relaxing drinking some wine and resting your feet at lunch time after a long day of touring, and you will feel more like gertting up in the am if your dinners are on the lighter side!

    If you are staying near San Marco in Venice and want elegant cookies and small cakes to eat or take home, Marchini has some lovely stuff. I think they are on the street that goes off the plaza next to the clocktower - check their address online.

    Do look for some of the new crop unfiltered olive oils in Florence - you could look at the market vendors. When we were last there we found some from a farmer selling in Piazza Santo Spirito. but you could equally well find it in the covered markets - browsing these is fun, San Lorenzo (inside the covered space, not the trashy tourist zoo outside) or San Ambrogio.

    15 Replies
    1. re: jen kalb

      Thank you for the advice on lunch v dinner, Marchini and the unfiltered olive oils. I have been printing many of the posts, and this will come in handy as well! =)

      So far, my shopping trips in Florence include UPAC, Mercato Centrale (is this the "trashy tourist zoo" you mention?) and along Borg'Ognissanti for various items including oils, cheeses, etc.

      1. re: OCAnn

        like I said the Enclosed market at Mercato Centrale (San Lorenzo) is great - the streets around are jammed with vendors selling cheap bags, souvenirs etc - you can hardly get to the food market. building itself. San Ambrogio is smaller, less touristic and more enjoyable for strolling.

      2. re: jen kalb

        I love the idea of eating our main meal at lunch!
        I personally love the idea of a long "boozy lunch" is always so much more relaxing and decadent somehow...
        Do the higher end restaurants in Venice all serve a full menu at lunch? Fiaschetteria Toscana? Alle Testiere? Etc.? Are there any particularly well suited to the long lunch?
        Thanks for all the advice!

        1. re: mizhil

          A true over-generalization but id say that most italian restaurants are open at both lunch and dinner with of course established closing days (sometimes 1-1/2 days, like Sunday dinner and Monday, for example) . the ones you mention open at lunch time as well as dinner.

          I think that the long lunch makes it more of a vacation - sets the experience off from our daily rush at home - as well as conforming more to local practices.

          1. re: jen kalb

            Thanks for the info!
            I agree...a long lunch makes you feel like you are really on vacation.
            I think we will mix it up though and have a few big lunches followed by a quiet night, maybe a light bite...
            and a few special dinners. Best of both worlds!

            1. re: jen kalb

              Any suggestions on these , our top choices at Lunch VS. Dinner?
              We'd like to do some fancy lunches with a casual dinner and some fancy dinners with a lighter lunch...
              Friday: Vini d Gigio

              Saturday: Boccadoro

              Sunday: Il Refolo

              Monday: Il Ridoto

              Tues: Fiascheterria Toscana

              Wed: Alle Testiere

              Casual spots:
              Bancogiro, Ai Promessi Sposi, Casa Mia, Anice Stallato, Da Albertp and Alla Vedova

              1. re: mizhil

                LOL! We're also doing Il Refolo on Sunday and Il Ridoto on Monday. =) And Fiascheterria Toscana will have to be one of our lunches since we are only there two evenings. =(

                1. re: OCAnn

                  3/14 and 15?
                  How funny!
                  Perhaps we will see you!
                  Let's hope for warmish weather for Il Refolo!
                  We haven't made our final plans yet, and need to inquire about reservations...
                  Isn't this fun?...I can't seem to get away from my computer!

                  1. re: mizhil

                    We'll be there the week after you.... =( Yes, let's hope for nice, warm weather!

                    As for reservations, I made Il Refolo's via Da Fiore's website: (make sure you mention that it's for Il Refolo).

                    For Il Ridotto, I made them by email:

                    Here's Fiascheterria Toscana's email:

                    Although my emails have been in English, I've also included the Italian translation (thanks to Google's translator: ).

                    1. re: OCAnn

                      Wow, great info!
                      Sorry we won't bump into you!!!
                      Unless we don't come home!!!!!!!LOL:)

            2. re: mizhil

              Most restaurants in Venice serve both lunch and dinner but Alle Testiere is an exception. In many cases, the full menu is served at lunch and in the case of Fiaschetteria Toscana, there is an additional simple daily set menu at lunch. I also like long leisurely lunches but a thing about Venice is that the city tends to shut down early in the evening, therefore, except for strolling and a drink here and there plus performances mainly for tourists (Vivaldi concerts, cheezy truncated operas; but of course if there are performances at La Fenice, do go), there are not too much to do. Most visitor who are staying in Venice proper, use the afternoon for sightseeing and the evening as the main meal. Also cichetti, a good lunch option, is usually not offered later in the evening.

              1. re: PBSF

                Great info! Thanks!
                As I mentioned above to Jen, i think we will probably mix it up...a few special lunches and a few special dinners...
                Any restaurants you wouldn't want to have lunch?
                And, I assume by an exception that you mean that Alle Testiere is not open for lunch?

                1. re: mizhil

                  You are correct that Alle Testiere does not serve lunch. Two seatings in the evening and I always prefer the late one so that I don't feel rushed and the staff are much more at ease. This is true especially for Fridays and Saturdays. The choices that you've picked for dinner will be probably be good for lunch, and without knowing them, it is difficult to say that I wouldn't want to lunch there. Bancogiro is one of our favorite places and we much prefer evenings where the setting is magical, right on the loggia facing the Grand Canal. Day time, we prefer having a drink there in the afternoon where there is much canal activity to watch.

                    1. re: PBSF

                      Speaking of magical: I would suggest that the best night in Venice is an evening with fog; thick, dense, soupy, clinging fog. I've known nights when we walked to the Vaporetto and couldn't see the boat until it was 15 or 20 meters away from us, silently floating up to the station. Still to walk around Venice on a night like this is incredible: romantic, enchanting, special. Memorable.

                      There is a vicarious thrill for all of us who have been to Venice before knowing that you are going for the first time. It will be special.

            3. It will be cool (COLD in 2008) during March in Venice but that should not deter you from going to Il Refolo. The restaurant/pizzeria only has a couple of small tables bordering on a canal, therefore it is not a 'canal seating' restaurant. The inside is actually more comfortable and the large windows provide a good view of the outside. Pizza are the main draw combined with very good service, though there are good antipasti.
              The risotto at Fiaschetteria Toscana is good but don't limit yourself just the one course. It is one of the best and most consistent traditional restaurant in Venice and deserves a full meal. Split courses with a single antipasto, a risotto, then secondi, and good cheeses, desserts and excellent wine list. Lunch is usually lively, a combination of mostly locals and a few visitors.
              The reasons to go to Taverna San Trovaso are: very moderate prices, large menu with something for everyone, good for large families, opened Sundays, otherwise one can do better elsewhere in Venice.
              For cichetti, definitely Cantinone Gia Schiavi on the day you are strolling Dorsoduro. If you are near the Rialto on the San Polo side in the middle/late afternoon, stop by at one of the bacari (Bancogiro, Naranzaria) on the loggia facing the Grand Canal and have a spritz, etc. The view and the comings and going of the canal gives a sense of the real Venice life. And there are actual locals sitting there among the visitors.
              And the above mentioned Marchini has wonderful fancy pastries and good chocolate but to go only. The nearby Rosa Salva is good for traditional pastries and coffee, standup only.

              2 Replies
              1. re: PBSF

                When you reserve for Il Refolo you might want to double check they are serving pizza. In Sept 2009 they had a large outdoor seating area with about 15 tables and were doing a brisk business. When I visited in Feb 2008 they had no outdoor seating and weren't serving pizza. They explained that when it's too cold they don't do outdoor seating and when they don't do outdoor seating tables inside don't turn fast enough to keep low cost pizza on the menu. Maybe they bought some outdoor heaters in the meantime but know before you go. The pizza is excellent, btw.

                1. re: badwaiter

                  Spring of 2008 was really cold. I ate there in March 2008, the coldest that I've ever experienced for that month. I didn't realize that they can put up so many tables outside. Do they normally set up those tables on Campo San Giacomo dell'Oro? Saw only a couple of small tables right outside the door. They did serve pizza that night.

              2. Thank you all for helping us form our meals while in Venice! We were mostly very, very pleased (with one disappointment @ Fiaschetteria Toscana). Here's my follow-up review w/pics:

       | Review: Il Refolo, Fiaschetteria Toscana & Il Ridotto | Venice