Vayentha (Ana Ularu) follows the drone to the Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Columbia Pictures' INFERNO.

Ready for Inferno? The movie, that is!

Grab the popcorn and settle in for a fast-paced romp though Florence and Venice!

Langdon (Tom Hanks) and Sienna (Felicity Jones) discover Dante's Death Mask in the Baptistry in Columbia Pictures' INFERNO.
Langdon and Sienna discover Dante’s Death Mask in the Baptistry in Columbia Pictures’ INFERNO.

If there’s one thing predictable about the various Dan Brown thrillers (Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons) the newest film adaptation, Inferno, it is certain to provide the predictable tension-filled trek as he dodges danger at every turn.

For us, the fun is to see the beauty of  Florence and Venice as the backdrop for much of the adventure. The movie, due out at the end of October, stars Tom Hanks reprising his role as symbolist Robert Langdon. The extensive filming in Florence and Venice caused a bit of havoc with closed streets, but now we’re eagerly anticipating the opportunity to watch the movie and see familiar streets and neighborhoods.

The Hall of 500 at Palazzo Vecchio, Florence in Columbia Pictures' INFERNO.
The Hall of 500 at Palazzo Vecchio, Florence in Columbia Pictures’ INFERNO.

We’ll be watching for the facade of the building where the comfy, perennial guest favorites Prisco, Michaela and Strozzi Florence apartments are located, to be featured front and center at some point in the movie since the street was closed for nearly a week for filming. On the Oltrarno side of the river where Robert Langdon is chased through, the Medici apartment is just a few yards from wall he climbs to escape the bad guys.

Langdon (Tom Hanks) and Sienna (Felicity Jones) run through Boboli Gardens in Columbia Pictures' INFERNO.
Langdon (Tom Hanks) and Sienna (Felicity Jones) run through Boboli Gardens in Columbia Pictures’ INFERNO.

We expect that a new crop of “Inferno” oriented walking tours around Florence and Venice will surface. Here’s one for Florence that you might want to try on your next trip to Florence.



Italian Street Food: Six Fabulous Faves to Delight Your Palette

There is something magical about sitting in an Italian piazza at dusk, ordering a bottle of wine and carefully studying a menu to decide which delicious dish looks the best that day. The atmosphere is unparalleled, the food is sure to be amazing – the perfect ending to a day.

But what if there isn’t time to sit and order?640px-glass_of_white_wine

Take the magic of Italian dining to the streets by trying some of Italy’s iconic street foods. Don’t be fooled by the thought of catching a quick bite, this is not the “fast-food” style fare that plagues car trips and busy days. Italy’s  sumptuous, satisfying flavors extend from the table to its most popular street foods.


The option of sitting down for a plate of risotto is tempting, but have-no-fear: there is an option for days when time is of the essence: suppli.

These two-bite Roman morsels are some of the best Italian foods that no one hears about. A crunchy coating of breadcrumbs surround a ball of delicious risotto and cheese, making this snack the perfect way to take a traditional dish to-go.


If suppli sounds amazing but Rome is not on the itinerary, have no fear. Arancini are a traditional food of Sicily and they offer a similar delicious combination. The crunchy coating of suppli and risotto filling are reminiscent of the Roman-style treat, but aranchini can some with additional flavors like meat ragu and peas. According to some, the best arancini in Sicily are found at Da Christina, in Catania but these finger-foods are common 640px-arancine_in_favignanathroughout the island.

Olive al’Ascolana

For another truly Italian flavor, try an olive al’ascolana. Like suppli and arancini, these start with a fried coating a breadcrumbs. Inside are olives stuffed with meat and spices – a delightfully unexpected combination. Le Marche, a region on the Eastern coast of Italy, is the home of these unique noshes and of course, there is nowhere better to try them than Ascoli.


While the idea of chestnuts roasting may sound more like a Christmas-tradition than an Italian one, make no mistake: the Italians have been munching on these delicious nuts far longer than the rest of the world has been singing about them. Ironically, these treats were once the staple of a peasant diet. Now they are celebrated, there is even a Chestnut Festival!

Pizza al Taglio

For the days when nothing sounds as satisfying as pizza, but sitting down to eat one will throw off the schedule for the day, there is another option: pizza al taglio. The name means “pizza by the slice” and that is exactly what one gets when they order. Faster than sitting down for a pizza to bake, the al taglio option offers a slightly different flavor – these pizzas are often baked in electric ovens rather than wood – with all the toppings and fixings of the round pizzas one would expect in Italy.

Porchetta Sandwich

Stopping by a deli for a sandwich is a routine experience, but the Italians do it differently, making a quick sandwich yet another way to experience Italian culture. The rosticceria is the Italian version, and one of the most iconic options is a porchetta sandwich. The pork in these sandwiches is roasted and sliced into the perfect, filling lunch on the go – inspiring foodies around the world. Travellers can try them anywhere in Italy, but those who find themselves in Siena might try the porchetta at Salumeria Il Cencio.640px-porchetta_3052068746

For those in Florence, lampredotto is another great option to try. Like chestnuts, lampredotto was once considered peasant fare – it is tripe after all, which would have been considered an undesirable cut of meat – but now people are crazy about it. It is one of the more unusual options, but do not let that be a deterrent. These sandwiches are all the rave.


Spanish Steps Makeover: Isn’t she pretty? 

Welcome back Spanish Steps! Rome’s iconic Spanish Steps just reopened following a nearly year-long renovation. The majestic steps, which rise from Piazza di Spagna up to Trinita’ dei Monti church, have provided the beautiful backdrop for countless movies, print ads, TV commercials, wedding photos, postcards, marriage proposals, and more selfies and instagrams that you can imagine. It is said to be Italy’s most photographed site.
For weary tourists the steps offer a place to sit, for free, and enjoy some classic people-watching. Notice starry-eyed lovers, older couples arm and arm, mother-daughter couples out fashion shopping, business people rushing about talking to their phone with dramatic gestures, taxi drivers hanging out debating the fine points of last night’s soccer game, and fashionistas strutting their beautiful stuff, always with a designer shopping bag in hand.
The Spanish Steps were built in the early 1700’s to connect the Spanish Embassy to the Trinita’ dei Monti church uphill. In the middle of the piazza at the bottom of the steps sits the Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Ugly Boat) built in the late 1600’s to commemorate the spot where a boat is said to have washed up from a flood of the Tiber river, a considerable distance away.
No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the Spanish Steps. If you want to stay nearby, here are a few of our vacation rental apartments that are within a 5 to 10 minute walk: Spagna, Valentina, Renata, Zegno, Umberto, Bellina, Sabini, Classico and Teodora.
The renovation, funded by the Bulgari jewelry dynasty, cost was upwards of €1.5 million Euros. Thank you Bulgari family!

Florence’s Bridge of Gold: Ponte Vecchio

They say that gold is a safe investment because its value rarely depreciates. In Florence, the stability of gold manifests in a different form: the Ponte Vecchio. Forever fascinating, the neighborhoods on either side of the Ponte Vecchio [Old Bridge] are highly sought-after locations for our Italy Perfect vacation rental apartments.

jewelry-ponte-vecchio-ennisWhile modern travelers know the bridge for its illustrious jewelry shops, its history will make it even more interesting. Beneath the glitz of gold chains is a bridge that has stood the test of time. It is the location, not the wares themselves, that make this place so special. A gold necklace can be purchased almost anywhere, but gold purchased on the Ponte Vecchio is not just gold. It is an experience.

Continue reading Florence’s Bridge of Gold: Ponte Vecchio


Florence: A Tale of Two (Extra) Davids

Why has a single statue managed to capture the minds of millions, held gazes enraptured, 391px-Shadow_David_Michelangelostruck awe in the hearts of admirers? Maybe it is the story: David, the original underdog manifested in marble. The mind’s eye fills in the gaps:

  • The giant Goliath.
  • The sling shot.
  • Desperation because no “real” warriors have stepped forward, only this young shepherd (unless the modern theories are to be counted as true, but that is hardly as romantic.)

Or is it the art of the master: the curls of hair, the casual stance, the severity of his stare –all demonstrating the skill of the craftsman as he closes the gap between stone and reality? Is there a glimmer of concern in his expression? Perhaps, but only just enough to create a sense of camaraderie with the viewer.

Continue reading Florence: A Tale of Two (Extra) Davids