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May 31, 2013 07:25 AM

Florence, Montalcino & Rome

I will be traveling to Italy, June 28 through July 11, spending 6 nights in Florence and two in Rome (with 5 nights in Taormina in between). I’m looking mostly for dinner and some lunch recommendations as well as winery recommendations around Montalcino. I’ve been reviewing this board and some of the blogs but wanted to reach out for some specific advice.

A little bit about our eating preferences. Generally prefer casual/relaxed places with a good wine list. Not big fans of innovative or experimental cuisine. Low tolerance for pretense. Willing to spend money for a great experience. In each of Florence and Rome, looking for one night at a “fancier” place and the other meals at more laid back locations.

In New York, some of our favorite places are Maialino, Colicchio & Sons, Gramercy Tavern, Osteria Morini, Marea, Ed’s, Blue Hill at Stone Barns.


I made a reservation at Pinchiorri but will probably cancel based on what I’ve read here. Is it true that wine pairings start in the EUR 500 range?

I’ve gotten recommendations for the following, which sound good to me:

Buca Lapi
Le Fontucine
Ristorante Buca dell'Orafo
Il Latini

Please let me know your thoughts or other preferences.


I have arranged a driver for a 10-hour tour of the wineries around Montalcino. I’d like to go to a few wineries, stop for lunch, and do a few more after lunch. I was recommended Trattoria il Leccio in the town of Montalcino for lunch. I’ve made arrangements at the following wineries:

Tenuta Il Poggione
Fattoria Poggio di Sotto
Biondi Santi
Castello Banfi

(Case Basse di Gianfranco Soldera – visits are suspended “for security reasons”)

Any others worth a visit? Also, would like to work in a side trip to something along the way. Thoughts on Arezzo or San Giminiano? Siena is not an option as it will be the day after the Palio and I doubt the town will be at its best.


Since we’re only in Rome for two nights, I’d like one restaurant on the elegant side and one that’s a real Roman trattoria experience, unless you have other recommendations. I know Metamorfosi is high on people’s list right now, but it doesn’t seem like a place we’d enjoy.


This is our third time in Taormina, and I’m pretty comfortable with the restaurants here. I promise a report back as it can be surprisingly difficult to find a great meal in this town.


Looking forward to your recommendations. Thanks in advance!

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  1. I absolutely love that area of Italy - and this is the best time to go! If you are flexible, I highly highly highly recommend going to Pienza then driving down the curvy road to a small town called Monticchiello (the drive alone is absolutely breathtaking) and having lunch at Osteria La Porta - that has the most wonderful views of the area and great great food - you can google it and check for yourself - THAT is my favorite.
    Have a wonderful trip.

    1 Reply
    1. re: acssss

      Thanks! I will put it on the list.

    2. hmm, you want fancy but do not think will enjoy metamorfosi? If you think it falls under the pretense category, let me disperse that for you. It is a great food and wine experience with very friendly service and no pretence whatsoever. But if you want it less fancy, roscioli or antico arco will fit the bill. For the trattoria experience, esp thinking you want good wine, too, i suggest cesare al casaletto.

      1 Reply
      1. re: vinoroma

        Thanks! Cesare al Casaletto sounds like what I want for the trattoria/ristorante experience.

      2. If you're worried about Metamorfosi, and you are probably right, consider Agata e Romeo, a lovely place, not stodgy but much more conservative than Metamorfosi, with a strong Roman background. Our trattoria is Nerone, very real. We like Checchino for old-fashioned food served with more decorum and better wines.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mbfant

          Nerone looks good. I read they have some tables with a view of the Coliseum? Checchino also sounds good and appears to have one of the best carbonara dishes in the city so will definitely go on the list. Thanks for your reply!

          1. re: ChowLad

            Yes, Nerone's outdoor tables have a view of the Colosseum, and Nerone has excellent carbonara. If you want a trattoria AND something more upscale, choose among Nerone, Checchino, and Cesare for the trattoria. Checchino is elegant in the sense of genteel but not really in the sense of fancy. The food is in the trattoria spirit. Nerone and Cesare are both very casual.

        2. Your Florence choices seem a bit outdated and not a little touristy. Have you gone through the past boards on the subject on this site? I"m not sure that you got those recommendations from this board?

          But in the meantime yes, Pinchiorri would end up costing about that, with wine. It's very expensive and one of the only reasons to go there was if there was a specific wine you really wanted, and might not be available anywhere else. Their wine cellar is truly one of the best in Italy.

          Based on what you said, though, I think you would like Osteria Personale. Creative, somewhat 'fancy' food, but in a very relaxed and laid back setting. I also think you would like Santo Bevitore. Again, a notch above simple trattoria fare, but very relaxed.

          2 Replies
          1. re: minchilli

            Thanks, Elizabeth. The restaurants were recommended to me by someone in the wine business here in NY. I think they were based on where he was taken when he was visiting wineries and staying in Florence.

            I've been reviewing your excellent blog and apps and have made up a short list of places from there plus these recommendations. One question for you though, what would you recommend for bistecca fiorentina in Florence itself?

            1. re: ChowLad

              I love going to Sostanza. As much for the bistecca (which is excellent) as for the entire experience.

              I also love Antica Ristoro di Cambi, across the river. Again, great steak, but also a warm and comfortable setting.