Via Dell Oriuolo, 17 (near the Duomo)
The Hotel Dali has been one of our favorite hotels in Florence since we created our Florence hotel guide in 2001. For the first in our “Checking In” series, we’re posing some questions to the owners of the Dali, Marco, 42 and his wife Samanta, 38 (pictured above).
EC: How many years have you owned and run the Hotel Dali?
HD: 10 years.
EC: What advice do you have for those traveling on a budget in Florence?
HD: Good question! In Florence, things are typically only free during culture week. This occurs during a different week each year and all the public museums are all free for seven days. During the summer time, there are some free tours of private gardens and the like. We recommend checking with the “associazione amici dei musei” office, located inside the Prato Museum.
EC: Where can I buy a great bottle of wine without spending too much money?
HD: If you want a good wine, but not a rare bottle, the supermarkets have a wide range of wines for lower prices. If you are looking for something really special (get ready to spend from €30 and up), spend a day in the countryside and visit the farms.
We recommend Castello di Brolio, Castello di Volpaia, Castello da Verrazzano, Capezzana, and Villa di Artimino. It’s a beautiful day trip and you can buy their wares at the end of it.
EC: Where can I eat a cheap, but wonderful meal in Florence?
HD: We suggest “Zio Gigi” on via Folco Portinari and “La Casalinga” on the other side of the river. For a fast italian meal, go to the corner of via de’ Macci e S. Ambrogio and try the kiosk selling “Trippa and lampredotto,” a typical florentine sandwich. Don’t forget a glass of wine!
EC: What’s your favorite free (or cheap) thing to do in Florence?
HD: Walking, walking and more walking. It’s the best way to get to know the city, to smell the food, enjoy the arts and, the best part? It costs nothing! Florence IS an open museum.
EC: “Don’t leave Florence without…”
HD: Visiting the church of San Miniato al Monte, behind Piazzale Michelangelo. The view from up there gives you a great understanding of the city layout.
We also recommend walking through the indoor food market in the San Lorenzo area. It’s such a wonderful, typical Italian scene. There you’ll meet screaming sellers, people bartering for food, and you can buy all kinds of Florentine specialties without paying a lot.
EC: What souvenir should I bring home from Florence?
HD: Florence is known for its straw work, the typical handcraft of the city. Then, next to straw is leather, but look at the quality. Unfortunately, with leather, cheap is not always possible. Make sure to try our wines and Sbriciolona (a kind of salami).
EC: Any other tips for travelers in Florence?
HD: Don’t expect the Anglo-Saxon service and standards. We live in an old city with oftentimes old structures, so just enjoy your holiday, whatever it ends up entailing.
Don’t forget, you are on holiday and you are learning to understand a very different country and culture. You may be confused by Italians. We talk loudly, moving our hands. We’re crazy drivers and are mad about food and fashion. But when you return home, we’re sure you’ll miss all the history and the quality of life you experienced. So open your mind and get ready!