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"Travel Blog: Nicky Epstein's Florence, Italy"
Author:  planetpurl
Tags/keywords:  Nicky Epstein Knitting Tuscany Florence
Nicky Epstein is joining Planet Purl for 3 live chat knit-alongs from her book Knitting in Tuscany. Come visit Florence, Italy with Nicky and Planet Purl.
08/11/2009 - Welcome to Nicky Epstein's "Knitting in Tuscany"
Nicky Epstein Knitting in Tuscany"If I were to attempt to write about all the art, architecture, sightseeing, hotels, restaurants, shopping, people and myriad other joys of visiting Florence, it would fill entire books more ambitious than Knitting In Tuscany. 

I will share with you just a few of my personal favorites."

- Nicky Epstein

Text and photos reprinted from Knitting in Tuscany, with permission from 6th&Spring Books and Nicky Epstein Books; Copyright 2009 by Nicky Epstein; photos by Howard Epstein. All rights reserved. 
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08/11/2009 - Yarn Shopping (Of Course!)


From the book "Knitting in Tuscany" by Nicky Epstein:

"Florence’s landmark yarn shop, Beatrice Galli, recently closed their doors after 40 years in business.  But there’s still yarn to be had in Florence. 

Campolmi Roberto Filati (Via Folco Portinari 19/21r, is by far the largest yarn shop in Florence.  It sells a dizzying array of discounted yarns from Italy and around the world.  The selection is so great, I felt like I was in yarn heaven when I was there.  I bought some unusual wooden knitting needles I used in designing pieces for Knitting in Tuscany.  The staff is helpful and the shop is in a lovely neighborhood not far from the Duomo.  Plan on spending some time here."

Planet Purl Travel Tip:  Also plan on buying an extra suitcase to get all your purchases from this shop home.  Good thing there are lots of cheap luggage shops in the area!

"There are two other yarn shops in Florence – Magliera Merceria Filati and Mirko Filati di Campi Antonella e Barbara.  Magliera Merceria Filati (Via de’ Cerchi 7r) is half yarn shop and half notions/clothing.  There is a nice selection of yarns at good prices and the shop is off the magnificent Piazza della Signoria, which you are bound to visit.  The friendly proprietors speak just enough English to get you through the yarn-buying experience.

Mirko Filati di Campi Antonella e Barbara (Piazza San Lorenzo 35r, is a tiny yarn shop in the Piazza San Lorenzo right next to the magnificent Basilica di San Lorenzo (the Medici family church) containing works of Michelangelo and others.  We discovered this shop on our last evening in Florence when it was closed, but the yarns in the window looked interesting.  So give it a try and let me know how it is."

Planet Purl Travel Tip:  This shop is stacked high with boxes of very nice Italian yarns.  The ladies working there when we visited spoke almost no English, so be sure to print our Italian knitting dictionary to take with you.
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08/11/2009 - Sightseeing
Neptune Fountain

Museo Bargello

From the book "Knitting in Tuscany" by Nicky Epstein:

"There is a neverending list of outstanding places to visit in Florence.  My personal selections are highlighted here.  The Galleria dell’ Academia (Via Ricasoli 58-60) houses Michelangelo’s David, the world’s most famous sculpture.  It may seem like the longest line in the world to get in, but you’ve got to see it."

Planet Purl Travel Tip:  if you go to the Galleria in the late afternoon, about 2 hours before closing time, you’ll miss the extremely long lines that form early in the morning! 

"The Galleria degli Uffizi (Piazza Galleria degli Uffizi) is one of the greatest art museums in the world, crammed with masterpieces.  Palazzo Pitti (Piazza dei Pitti) is located on the other side of the Arno River from the historical area of Florence.  This beautifully frescoed Medici palace is home thousands of paintings, the Medici apartments, the costume gallery, the decorative arts collection, and the lavish Boboli Gardens. 

Planet Purl Travel Tip:  Go to the box office at the Uffizi Gallery and buy a reserved ticket for the next day.  It could save you hours in line.  Also, the Boboli Gardens are gorgeous and a wonderful place to sit and knit.

Other must-sees include the Duomo (cathedral, Piazza del Duomo), the Campanile (bell tower), the Baptistry of St. John with its bronze doors by Ghiberti, the Ponte Vecchio bridge, once home to butchers and now home to tourist shops and jewelers, and the Piazza della Signoria, full of statuary, including a replica David, and great for people watching.
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08/11/2009 - Dining in Florence
La Giostra

Le Fonticine

From the book "Knitting in Tuscany" by Nicky Epstein:

"So many restaurants, so little time.  My favorite, La Giostra (Borgo Pinti 12r, has great Tuscan/Austrian food, an extensive wine list and is fun, fun, fun.  Most of the fun is supplied by owner Dimitri Kunz d’Asburgo Lorena, a Hapsburg prince, who runs this special place with his two sons and daughter.  Dimitrui traverses the restaurant in his chef’s hat serving bread, pouring wine, and schmoozing with patrons in many languages.  The menu has wonderful dishes like a and an enormous delicious winerschnitzel.  La Giostra is probably the only restaurant in Tuscany where you have a choice of tiramisu or Sacher torte for dessert.

Another favorite is La Fonticine (Via Nazionale 79r,, a country-style trattoria; opt for the rear dining room which is lined with the owner’s colorful paintings.  This is a great place to try Florentine beefsteak, along with items like insalata caprese, fried zucchini blossoms and pasta with mushrooms and truffle sauce."

Planet Purl Travel Tip:  It's hard to get a bad meal in Florence.  Our favorite discovery was potato pizza.  No have to try it.  It's like cheesy scalloped potatoes on pizza crust.
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08/11/2009 - Accomodations in Florence
View from the Grand Hotel

From the book "Knitting in Tuscany" by Nicky Epstein:

"When I attended the Pitti Filati fiber exhibition, I stayed at the Grand Hotel Baglioni (Piazza Unita Italiana 6,  The hotel is large but charming.  The rooms are good-sized and have traditional Florentine furnishings; some have great views of the Duomo.  There is a restaurant on the top floor with windows overlooking the city. 

Even if you don’t stay here, I highly recommend visiting the roof for a drink and enjoying one of the best 360 degree panoramas in all of Florence.

Planet Purl Travel Tip:  Florence is a very romatnic city and if you're going with someone toward whom you're romantically inclined, we highly recommend the opulent and historic Grand Hotel Florence (Piazza Ognissanti 1 · Firenze 50123, (39)(055) 27161·), a Luxury Collection property managed through Starwood Hotels.  Request a room with balcony overlooking the Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio.  The major sites of Florence are within a short walk from the hotel.
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08/11/2009 - Heading to Florence?

If you are heading to Italy and plan to do some yarn shopping, you can hear more from Nicky Epstein on her travel adventures by picking up a copy of her book.

You can also search for more yarn shops in Italy using the Planet Purl shop search.

And don't forget your free downloadable copy of our travel dictionary for knitters and crocheters to help with your yarn shopping experience in the Italian language!

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