The Best Pastries in Florence!

best_pastriesAs a follow-up to our recently renovated Best Food in Florence blog, we are bringing you a new food-themed “Best Of”: the best breakfast pastries in Florence!
So you think something covered in sugar is always good, eh? Well, ok, it is. But we’re not satisfied with “good,” what we are searching for here is Greatness.
In fact, doing some research for this post, I stumbled across an adorable blog post by Tiana Kay called “ITALIAN CROISSANTS SUCK,” which I read with a chuckle because I know exactly what she means (and nothing puts a damper on a morning like a crap pastry!). Sadly, there are some pretty lame excuses for breakfast pastries out there (the pre-packaged, stale, hard, and defrosted varieties), but there are also really good ones! I promise. I have made it my life’s mission to find them, and I want to share them with you.
 
This post obviously required a lot of on-site research, with endless taste testing and re-taste-testing until we KNEW we had a solid list of locations.
No need to thank us.
This is what we do.
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Ten Things to Look Forward to When Studying Abroad in Italy!

ponte_vecchio_afternoon

I

flew back to Florence just a few days ago after the Holidays and saw gaggles of study abroad students meeting in the airport, catching flights and talking about their upcoming semester abroad. It made me feel super nostalgic. If I could go back and relive the first time I walked through the streets of Florence I would do it in a heartbeat. You just have SO MUCH to look forward to. It took me back and I spent my flight remembering my first few days, and weeks, and months in this amazing country. There were of course some difficult things to adjust to, but all I could remember were the amazing, life changing, beautiful things. That feeling of being in the most enchanted place on earth and doing my best to live every moment to the fullest while simultaneously pinching myself to ensure it was all real. Nothing quite captures that magical feeling.

While each of your experiences will be different, I hope each one is life changing, heart wrenching and beautiful too. So here are just 10 (it was quite hard to limit myself) of the amazing things that made me fall in love with my life in Italy. Hopefully they are some of yours too.
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Novità: One of the Best Study Spots in Florence

All things new.
They may not be new to Florence, but they’re news to me.

This past month we made a big decision and a big move out of the city center. We’re really only a 15-minute bike ride from Arno so it is hardly “far,” but it feels like a whole new city. While leaving the overcrowded centro has had a slew of advantages, it has also taken some adjusting. We’re so used to the luxury of having a place close-by to go when tired of wondering the city or after a three hour Uffizi tour. My latest goal, therefore, has been to find new and wonderful places closer to the city center to spend my free hours studying, reading or just relaxing. This post is dedicated to my favorite of these recent discoveries, Caffè Letterario. As with most items in this blog series, it has been around for ages and has just taken me ages to find. And as per usual, I wish I had found it so much sooner!

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Art in Florence: Top Twenty Artworks to See Before You Leave

ART_IN_FLORENCEAs adamant fans of the art in Florence, it often breaks our hearts to hear that travelers to this fair city miss out on some of Florence’s renowned works. Of course there are many reasons to visit this multi-faceted town, but one of the main motivations has always been to see Florence’s breathtaking painting, sculpture, and architecture. According to UNESCO (although it may be a somewhat Western centric view), 60% of the world’s most important works of art are located in Italy and approximately half of these are in Florence.
 
Art_of_florenceEveryday we see tourists herded into the Uffizi and Accademia as if they are the only two museums in Florence and countless more make the mistake of thinking that because there is no line outside the many other museums and churches, that there is nothing to see inside. On the contrary, there are many places in Florence that are full of masterpieces and (relatively speaking) empty of tourists. In response to this trend, we’ve made this list of the art in Florence that (we believe) everyone should see before they leave (in truth, the list is WAY longer than this. We had to narrow it down. And then narrow again); some works will be familiar, while others, I guarantee, will be completely new.
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Novità: Brunch in Florence

All things new.
They may not be new to Florence, but they’re news to me.

Brac_FlorenceI admit that in that last few years I have almost entirely converted to the Italian breakfast of an espresso coffee and a pastry over the American toast, bagels, bacon, sausage, eggs, and drip coffee. I’ve come to look forward to my simple and delicious sweet treat and its eye-opening companion. However, every few months, there comes a day (usually a Sunday) where I need something more. I need the saltiness of lunch, the sweetness of breakfast, in the portion size of most people’s dinner, at an atypical time, and I need to wash it all down with a coffee, tea, smoothie and/or a mimosa. What I need people, is brunch, and I assume I’m not alone.
 
There is no word for brunch in Italian, which should tell you all you need to know about trying to find the aforementioned meal in this country. In my English-Italian dictionary it explains that “brunch” is a unique blend of breakfast and lunch, but gives no one-word translation. If you want to ask an Italian friend to join you for this unique feast, you would simply say “Facciamo un brunch?” This always seems a bit silly to me, but it’s a genre of meal that is clearly not Italian and calling it by its original English name maintains the separation between diverse cultural mealtime choices.
 
There are a few places that have popped up in Florence to help feed this deeply rooted (I’m talking DNA deep here) need for brunch. Want a bagel or a muffin (or, for holidays, a pie)? Go to Mama’s Bakery. Need an enormous omelet or eggs benedict with American drip coffee or a cappuccino smoothie and a side of french fries? Go to The Diner. But if you want classy and affordable (but also manageable size-wise) pancakes, french toast, Italian inspired salty crepes or egg scrambles with fresh smoothies, juices, and an impressive list of teas, all in the quiet, hidden courtyard of a bookstore? Well then there is only one place you can go: Brac.
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