Literary City Guide | FLORENCE, ITALY

The Palazzo Vecchio rises before me, oppressive in its abrupt compact bulk, and I can feel upon me its heavy grey shadow. From the building’s crenellated shoulders soars the bell tower, stretching out its muscular neck into the nightfall. It is so high that I am seized by dizziness as I lift my eyes towards its helmeted head. And when, somewhat unsettled, I look around for shelter, the arches of a vast portico appear before me: it is the Loggia dei Lanzi
— Rainer Maria Rilke

Tour Guide: Giulia Scarpaleggia

Giulia is a Tuscan food writer and food photographer and she teaches Tuscan cooking classes for foreign and local people in her family house in the countryside. She tells about her passions and her family recipes in her blog,, and on social media, where you can find her as @Julskitchen. Her fifth cookery book will be published in 2017. (Photos by Giulia Scarpaleggia)



Relationship to Florence: I am a country girl, living an hour drive from Florence. Almost all my friends live here, so I am in Florence at least once a week to meet them. Thanks to them I started to live Florence as a local, and I fell in love.

Writer you’d like to invite to dinner: Laurie Colwin, she loved having dinner with friends at home

Chef you’d like to prepare the meal: Jamie Oliver

Writing soundtrack: Last of the Mohicans soundtrack or Amelie soundtrack.

Pen or Pencil: A sharp pencil

Coffee or Tea? A hot mug of mint green tea

Paperback or Hardback?  Paperback


Good Reads


Libreria Brac. It is a contemporary art bookshop with a small inner garden and a relaxed atmosphere where you can sit and read while sipping a coffee, a tea or an herb infusion. A vegan and vegetarian menu which suits the location.

Todo Modo. An independent bookshop, where you can buy new and second hand books and ebooks, a bar where to enjoy a quick breakfast or a proper meal, and a small theatre for lessons, meetings and concerts.

Paperback exchange. A small family business, an independent English language bookshop where you can buy new and second hand titles in the centre of Florence, just a few steps from the Duomo. Friendly and lovely staff.


Biblioteca delle Oblate. It used to be a medieval convent, now it is a three-storey public library and a cultural and multimedia centre. Quiet, young, colourful, with the most spectacular view over the cathedral and the bell tower. 

Harold Acton Library. The British Institute of Florence and its Library have always played an important role in the Anglo-Florentine cultural life. A cozy place to visit to borrow a book or to attend lectures and films. Every Thursday they offer also an afternoon tea.

Laurentian Medici Library. It is a historical library in Florence, located in a cloister of the Medicean basilica di San Lorenzo and designed by Michelangelo himself. Today it contains more than 11.000 manuscripts and 4.500 early print books. 


The British Institute in Florence. The Harold Acton Library has an interesting list of events, from the Shakespeare week in April to lectures held in Italian and in English about history, art, politics and cinema.

Red. The Feltrinelli bookshop in Piazza della Repubblica has a space to feature authors, organize book launches and host meetings and lectures.


Casa di Dante. The house where Dante Alighieri, the author of La Divina Commedia, was born is now a museum, a memorial site to spread knowledge of Dante’s life and works.

Caffè Le Giubbe Rosse. Located in Piazza della Repubblica, it is one of the most important historical cafés in Florence. In the 1910s it was here that the futurist movement would meet regularly. It was easy to meet there, sitting at the tables, writers and intellectual figures as Giovanni Papini, Aldo Palazzeschi, Mario Luzi, Elio Vittorini, Vasco Pratolini and Eugenio Montale.

Florence Inferno. A walking tour inspired by Dan Brown’s novel Inferno to discover some of the most mysterious spots in the city.

Good Eats


Chiaroscuro. Pop here for breakfast for a cappuccino and a tiny rice tartlet, or enjoy a chat over a cup of your favorite coffee in the afternoon. Wide selection of coffees and teas. 

Caffetteria delle Oblate. Inside the Oblate Library, it is the place to be if you want to take some time for yourself, enjoy a cultural event or try the excellent food in a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. Superb view on the Duomo. 

Caffè Giacosa Roberto Cavalli. An elegant, stylish and historical bar with a great selection of pastries and sandwiches. Coffee is excellent, too. It is also a restaurant, a tea room and a chocolate factory, licensed furnisher to the Royal family. Casa Giacosa was founded in 1815. Here was invented the world famous cocktail Negroni.

Ditta Artigianale. One of the best spots to have a coffee in Florence, Ditta Artigianale is a modern and hipster bar for all you coffee geeks out there: espresso, pour over, cappuccino, latte, flat white, aeropress, syphon and cold brew. It is also a remarkable gin bar.


Trattoria Sabatino. Rustic traditional trattoria where you will find mostly locals. Simple inexpensive food, generous portions.

Osteria Tripperia Il Magazzino. Cozy trattoria in Piazza della Passera where all offal lovers can enjoy an unforgettable meal: lampredotto meatballs, tripe and fried brain.

Trattoria Cibreo. Seasonal Tuscan food prepared by the chef Fabio Picchi, this trattoria is right next to the best market in Florence, Sant’Ambrogio.

Da Nerbone. This trattoria is located just inside the food market of San Lorenzo, a must for lampredotto, boiled meat and arista.


Rivoire. Serious business meetings and first dates have been celebrated at the tables of this historic café just as whispered chats with friends, accompanied by some almond paste cookies. They are famous for their hot chocolate.

Gelateria Edoardo. Try this ice-cream shop for an artisanal organic gelato, made with the best seasonal ingredients.

Gelateria Carabé. This is the right place for a Sicilian granita or the best pistachio ice cream in town.

Florence, Italy

GIULIA's 5 Favorites

1. Favorite view: The Basilica di San Miniato al Monte is a romanic church perched atop a hill overlooking Florence. It is one of the highest point of the town, quieter than the underlying Piazzale Michelangelo. The perfect spot to enjoy the view and the fresh breeze.

2. Favorite place to write: At home in my kitchen.

3. Favorite museum: Palazzo Pitti, with the beautiful grand kitchen from the XVI century.

4. Favorite coffee shop: Ditta Artigianale

5. Favorite thing about Florence: Open markets with incredibly fresh seasonal produce.