There is no better way than to sip a Negroni to celebrate the beginning of Summer in Florence

If you want to fully dive into the Italian lifestyle there is no better way than to sip a Negroni to celebrate the beginning of Summer. The year 2019 also marks the 100th anniversary of its creation and you can consider this occurrence as another excuse to spoil yourself with an extra glass of this bitter cocktail. 

The Negroni cocktail is one of the most popular cocktails throughout Florence. It is said to have been created right here in Florence by Camillo Negroni in the early 20s when he was coming home from one of his many trips from London. He asked the bartender to add some gin into his Milano-Torino. A Milano-Torino is made with red vermouth and bitters, thus adding that signature gin created his masterpiece. Today, the cocktail is made with equal parts bitters, red vermouth, and gin, then topped with a garnish of orange. The drink is known for its dry flavor and pungent aroma. The drink is mean to be enjoyed before dinner due to its high alcohol level, but any of these 5 bars will serve it at anytime you ask.

Here are our top 5 places to get a Negroni Cocktail

5. Ditta Artigianale

This bar doubles as a cafe and bar, depending on what time of day you stop by. During the day, they are known for their specialty roast coffee which are perfectly paired with a variety of sandwiches and pastries. At night, this brooklyn style bar is the perfect place to get a cocktail and enjoy it in a calm, easy-going atmosphere.

Location: Via dei Neri, 30/32 R

4. Antico Caffe del Moro-Art Bar

This bar is older styled and small, but the perfect atmosphere if you want a calm night out. All of the drinks are made to perfection, with most including a fresh fruit garnish. The bar is full of tables to sit at or you can simply hang out by the bar. The Bartenders are extremely knowledgeable of all drink-especially the Negroni.

Location:  Via del Moro, 4

3. Harry’s Bar

This bar is known for making its guests feel like family. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, making it a perfect night starter or night cap. The drinks are made perfectly, including the Negroni. It is a very local place so you so not have to bare the mass amount of tourists like you would at other bars. There is also a classic italian cuisine menu to choose from if you’re in the mood to grab a bite to eat.

Location: Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci, 22/R

2. Atrium Bar

Located inside of the Four Seasons hotel in Florence, this bar is truly an elegant experience. There is both inside and outside seating, with a live band on most weekends. During the day, the bar is known for its afternoon tea session with light appetizers. In the evening, you can enjoy dinner and drinks in this romantic setting. The bar is most known for its Moulin rouge cocktail, and its twist on the negroni, that they call “vintage”. The bar can be accessed by anyone, not just guest sof the hotel. If you are a hotel guest, you can even order the drinks from room service to enjoy right in your own room.

1. Negroni Bar

This bar is known for its Negroni cocktail, as the name suggests. This restaurant and bar offers a wide, traditional menu full of Italian staples. They are mostly known for their pizza, but their spaghetti is a close second. There is also an outside eating area with a quiet night life scene past sundown. After a long day of walking around, this is the perfect place to relax and take in the city views. The cocktails are the right price and made to perfection. 

The Art of Writing

A Writers Retreat at Palazzo San Niccolò in Florence, Italy

Started by author Lisa Clifford, The Art of Writing Retreat gives you a week to escape and focus on your writing. With the help of Lisa and her team, those that join are encouraged to write, think, share, and reconnect with their writing muse. “Whether you’re a published author or just starting out, our Florence retreat is perfect for you,” says Lisa. These classes offer you valuable information, networking opportunities, and enable you to concentrate on how to get your work to be publishing worthy.

“My Art of Writing Retreats are for beginning, emerging, and established writers. We bring famous publishers and published authors to the Florence area to teach and share their journeys. I hope you can join me. I’d love to meet you and help you take your idea to novel, in what I think is the perfect environment for creativity.”

– Lisa Clifford

Being privileged to host The Art of Writing Retreat for the past two years at the Palazzo San Niccolò, we have been able to work closely with Lisa and learn a little bit more about her upbringing as a writer.

Having written and published four novels of her own, Lisa Clifford is a very passionate, talented, and successful writer. However, to Lisa it goes much beyond The Art of Writing. After growing up in Australia the first sixteen years of her life, Lisa moved to Florence, Italy where she ended up meeting the love of her life, Paolo. When moving back and forth between two countries, Lisa continued following her dreams as a writer and journalist and ended up winning a scholarship to the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. After graduating, she continued pursuing her passion and started writing her first book Walking Sydney, A Guide to 25 of Sydney’s Best Walks. From there, Lisa ended up permanently moving to Italy where she married Paolo and continued to write more novels.

After over four decades of living in and writing about Italy, Lisa decided that it was finally time to share all her knowledge by helping other writers also achieve their dreams as she had. Thus, her Art of Writing Retreat was born and has been growing in success throughout the years.

The Art of Writing’s goal is that you leave with a sense of accomplishment and a continued desire to master the art of writing.

If interested, visit for more information.

“Staying confident as a writer is hard. It takes very little to quash self-assurance. Foster belief in your abilities. Learn whatever you can about today’s world of writing so you are confident.”

– Lisa Clifford


When visiting a foreign city, it can be difficult to find places to eat, drink, sight-see, and even to grab basic necessities. However, when staying at the Palazzo San Niccolò there are so many places just minutes from our front door.

Known as one of the oldest districts and the “artist’s neighborhood” of Florence, San Niccolò is a very fascinating district full of history, art galleries, boutiques, bars and restaurants. If you are looking to avoid the super touristic places, San Niccolò is the perfect place for you to be. This district lies on the other side of the Arno River, away from super crowded areas of the town but definitely more authentic with lots to occupy yourself with.

Enjoy every minute of your stay by going to all the best places in San Niccolò. Here a few we suggest for you:

Food & Drink Favorites

I’ Pizzacchiere Firenze

Right around the corner of the Palazzo on your way towards Piazza Michelangelo you will find this hidden pizzeria gem. Here you’ll walk into a friendly and funny atmosphere, while appreciating a true high-quality Italian pizza dish. Be sure to stop by this quaint, family friendly restaurant and enjoy a nice meal with your family and friends!

“The pizza is very good and the places has a nice feel to it. I really loved the juiciness of the food, it is true that for the real pizza you don’t need a sauce! Also, the quality of the ingredients comes through, for me this is one of the most important aspects of food. I would totally recommend this place for an Italian pizza experience!”

– Teodora Dubar {past customer}
Fuori Porta

Located off of Via del Monte all Croci, just 2 minutes walking from the Palazzo, lies Fuori Porta restaurant and wine bar. This Tuscan restaurants primary focus is to provide you with excellent wines and genuine flavors while giving their customers the best possible care when doing so.

Il Rifrullo

Only a 1 minute walk from the Palazzo, this beautiful café-restaurant is a frequent spot for the locals and is the perfect place for a gorgeous Tuscan aperitivo. We strongly recommend you visit in spring or summer, because it has a beautiful terrace to spend the night drinking with your friends and family.

“We stumbled upon this place on a hunt for an evening drink, and what a delight. There’s a lovely outdoor rooftop terrace to sit outside and off the street. They have an apertitvo buffet with a huge selection of pastas, pizzas and other yummy things.”

– Beth D {past customer}
Forno San Niccolò

The perfect bakery in the San Niccolò area with so many incredible and delicious foods to choose from each and every morning. Being only a 1-minute walk from the Palazzo, Forno San Niccolò is the perfect place to get a quick sweet treat before exploring the beautiful city of Florence.

Le Follie di Romualdo

Choosing only organic and top quality ingredients, Le Follie di Romualdo is one of the newer pizza places in the San Niccolò area that provides authentic flavors and some of the best products that the city offers.

Il Gelato di Filo

Il Gelato di Filo is one of the best gelato places in the San Niccolò area. Being only a 1-minute walk from the Palazzo, pop in for a sweet treat either before or after lunch, dinner, or maybe even both!

Basic Necessities

Farmacia Comunale di San Niccolò Apoteca Natura

In case of any emergencies, it’s always important to know of any pharmacies around the area. Lucky for you, the Farmacia Comunale di San Niccolò is only a 2-minute walk from the Palazzo where you can quickly grab anything you may need in the matter of minutes without disturbing your time in Florence.

Le Bontà di Michele

Only a 3-minute walk down the road from the Palazzo lies Le Bontà di Michele. Here you can grab a few quick foods for the road or even enjoy a quick lunch to go.

Best Sights to See

Piazzale Michelangelo & Giardino dell Rose

The Piazza Michelangelo & Giardino dell Rose is on a hill on the south bank of the Arno River, just 5 minutes away from the Palazzo San Niccolò. These places are undoubtedly the best panoramic view of Florence.

San Niccolò Tower & Le Rampe

The Tower of San Niccolò, once part of a gate for the defensive walls of Florence, is now located in piazza Giuseppe Poggi, which is right next to the Le Rampe fountain. The tower is one of the most important elements for a strong understanding of the city’s history. Once you make it up the steps, you will be treated to a one-of-a-kind 360 degree view of Florence

Just a few steps away from the Tower of San Niccolò lies Le Rampe fountain which, after almost a years worth of restoration, is finally complete and looking as beautiful as ever. The incredible transformation of Le Rampe has now made the walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo much more pleasant, creating a green corner on the banks of the Arno; an important point of attraction for the San Niccolò area.

Giardino Bardini

The Giardino Bardini is an Italian Renaissance garden located just 10 short minutes away from the Palazzo. The garden provides many statues and panoramic views over the city of Florence. Due to being recently opened to the public, this beautiful sight is often left unnoticed and shouldn’t be. Be sure to stop by and check it out for yourself!


Being situated in the San Niccolò neighbourhood has many advantages but maybe the thing we love the most is being so close to some of the most beautiful gardens of Florence.  The Bardini Gardens, Rose Garden and also Boboli are all within walking distance from our front door and now we can add another of Florence’s gems to our list of places for you to walk to during your next stay.

Lying below the popular lookout of Piazzale Michelangelo leading down to the San Niccolò Tower in Piazza Poggi is the area known to all Florentines as ‘Le Rampe’.  Built between 1872 & 1876, thanks to architect Giuseppe Poggi, who had initially presented his urban plan to celebrate the choice of Florence as the capital of Italy in 1865.  His plan called for interventions in several parts of the city, including the arrangement of the hill between Piazza San Niccolò and Porta Romana.

And so, Viale dei Colli, Piazzale Michelangelo and Le Rampe were born: this latter architecture connected the square to Porta San Niccolò thanks to a system of staircases, streets, plants and fountains.  Unfortunately, over the years the difficulty in supplying water and the lack of maintenance led to a gradual abandonment of the fountains.

However, Le Rampe has returned to its former glory thanks to an impressive restoration, begun last July by the Municipality of Florence and financed by the Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze Foundation for 2.5 million euros. A new water system has been installed as well as restoration of the caves and the vegetation which was fundamental in Poggi’s original project. 

The Ramps were inaugurated on Saturday 18 May but unfortunately, due to heavy rain, the original light show and circus activities were postponed and so we will have to wait for the sun to return to really enjoy the party.

FOTO Enrico Ramerini / CGE Fotogiornalismo

The restoration has focused on three aspects: the conservation of the architectural component of the system (caves, cliffs and tanks), the construction of the new water system and the recovery of vegetation.

“The hydraulic system is fed from the aquifer and then ends up in the Arno river”- explained Giorgio Caselli of the Florence City Fine Arts Office – “Once activated the timers can be adjusted so as to allow the fountains to function during the day”.

The water will in fact be introduced from the top, where the lily and the shell are visible, to fill the first tank and will then flow into the three caves. From here it will pass into the second basin and through the waterfall, about 5 meters high.  It will fall into the basin below and into the Five Caves to then merge into the oval basin and the single cave. Finally all the water will flow into the large basin of the Tower of San Niccolò and into the two side basins.


The recovery of botanical species has also been very important. Following the original design guidelines, more than 1200 semi-aquatic and aquatic plants have been replaced and 200 species transplanted between vines and Iris, as well as 900 square meters of lawn with flower beds.

A total of 27,000 hours of work including the removal of 100 quintals of weeds removed and the relocation of 1,200 plants has seen an incredible transformation of this important location in Florence.   The new restoration of Le Rampe will contribute to making the ascent on foot to Piazzale Michelangelo much more pleasant, creating a green corner on the banks of the Arno: an important point of attraction for the San Niccolò area.

You can watch a beautiful video of the restoration here.


Leonardo da Vinci or simply Leonardo, was an Italian polymath of the Rennaissance whose areas of interest included invention, drawing, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography.he is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time. Sometimes credited with the inventions of the parachute, helicopter, and tank, many historians and scholars regard Leonardo as the prime exemplar of the “Universal Genius” or “Renaissance Man”, an individual of “unquenchable curiosity” and “feverishly inventive imagination”, and he is widely considered one of the most diversely talented individuals ever to have lived.

You may have heard that on May 2nd, 2019, Italy and the world will honour the day, 500 years ago, when Leonardo da Vinci died.  There are a host of celebrations and exhibitions already taking place around the world, from Rome, London to New York and of course here in Florence. 

Currently showing in Florence at Palazzo Strozzi is the exhibition, ‘VERROCCHIO, IL MAESTRO DI LEONARDO’, a celebration of Andrea del Verrocchio, an emblematic artist of the Florentine Renaissance, whose workshop is associated with best-known artists, Domenico del Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, Perugino and his most famous pupil of all, Leonardo da Vinci.

This major exhibition, open until the 14th July 2019, reconstructs Leonardo’s early artistic career and interaction with his master, Verrocchio.

With a special section, also at the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, the exhibition showcases over 120 paintings, sculptures and drawings thanks to outstanding loans from the world’s leading museums and collections.

Seven works by Leonardo, some on display in Italy for the very first time illustrate the early career of Leonardo da Vinci, and the exhibition provides an overview of artistic works in Florence from roughly 1460 to 1490, the age of Lorenzo the Magnificent.

The exhibition is promoted and organised by the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi and the Musei del Bargello in conjunction with the National Gallery in Washington DC (which will be hosting the show from 29 September 2019 to 2 February 2020) with the support of the Comune di Firenze, the Regione Toscana and the Camera di Commercio di Firenze.  With a contribution from the Fondazione CR Firenze.  Main sponsor : Intesa Sanpaolo.

Andrea del Verrocchio, Madonna and Child (detail), 1470 or c.1475 © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie/Christoph Schmidt

When Leonardo was 64, he left Italy for France in 1516 after his patron Giuliano de’Medici died. He was unwell and his hand too crippled to paint, but he and his admiring new patron, Francis I, the youthful king of France, became close friends who discussed everything from philosophy to art, architecture and engineering. 

In his Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, Giorgio Vasari, writing in 1550, recorded that Leonardo actually died in the king’s arms, with the king “supporting his head to give him such assistance and do him such favour as he could, in the hope of alleviating his sufferings.” This account by Vasari inspired artists like Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres to paint, that death scene with the king in 1818. 

“The death of Leonardo,” Ingres, 1818

In his carefully researched ‘Leonardo Da Vinci, The Biography’ (Simon and Schuster, 2017). Walter Isaacson writes, “With Leonardo, nothing is so simple,” Leonardo was buried in the cloister of the Church of Saint Florentin at Amboise, “but the current location of his remains is another mystery,” writes Isaacson. The church was demolished in the early 19th C., and, although excavation decades later revealed bones, they are usually and cautiously described as Leonardo’s “presumed remains.”

The Leicester Codex of Leonardo da Vinci

One of the main events of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death begins this October at the Uffizi Galleries of Florence, with the exhibition “The Leicester Codex of Leonardo da Vinci: Water as Microscope of Nature.” The 72-page Codex, which discusses the movement of water, fossils, and moonlight (among other topics) is being loaned by Bill Gates, who purchased it in 1990 for over $30 million.

Florence is definitely the place to be this year to celebrate the genius that was Leonardo da Vinci!


9 MARCH – 14 JULY, 2019

PALAZZO STROZZI – Daily 10.00 – 20.00, Thursdays 10.00 – 23.00 

Exhibition also open on Public Holidays. 

Reservations : +39 055 2469600 –


This past week I was able to visit the SecretCloset Outlet.
My first impression started from the outside; the building is beautiful! It is located right near the San Niccolò area and was very easy to walk to from Palazzo San Niccolò. Even though I went to do work, I felt like a high class luxury shopper having to be buzzed into the building. Once inside it is set up similar to a showroom, but for a majority of the shoes there was only one pair left. The SecretCloset includes brands like Steve Madden, Jeffrey Campbell, Buffalo, UGG, Naked Wolf, and Dr. Martens.

The discounts on the shoes were amazing! All of the shoes were anywhere from 30% to 80% off of the original price (end of season styles). These particular shoes were all from the winter collections from these brands, and the store changes the shoes every week. I knew it would be hard to work for a company that specializes in some of my favorite shoes, but with these great prices I’m going to end up going home with a much heavier suitcase!

To get a pass to enter the SecretCloset, you can contact the Reception desk in Palazzo San Niccolò to get one! It is a free, exclusive pass that anyone can get! Once you visit once, you can ask the workers there for a membership card that allows you to come back whenever you want. The card is free, but takes a few weeks to receive. The closet is only open on Friday and Saturday for right now, but will open for more hours in the spring and summer. To keep up to date with the new arrivals and sales, follow us on Instagram!

Location: Via di Ricorboli, Florence

Hours: Saturday + Sunday 10:30am-7:30pm

Instagram: secretcloset.firenze

by Julia Wright


On February 17th in the year 1530, Florence was besieged by the troops of Carlo V and Pope Clemente VII, who wanted to bring the Medici Family back to Florence. A game of  ‘soccer’  was played to mock and make fun of the enemy.   This was not the same soccer as the one we know today, but the historical game known as Calcio Storico: an ancient game, that according to some people was played by Romans, called Harpastum and played to keep the body trained. The Florentines decided to demonstrate to the army of Carlo V that life in the city was the same and they were not going to stop doing what they always did. So they decided to play the game in front of the troops. One team was dressed in white and the other in green and the prize for the winner was a calf.

Nobody knows how the match ended or which team won – it doesn’t matter….what really matters is that the game played on that day will be remembered as a great event in the history of Florence. To remember that fateful day, this Sunday 17th February 2019 the players of “Calcio Storico Fiorentino” will return to the same field in Piazza Santa Croce square to honour the brave warriors who preceded them.  Santa Croce square will be as it was in the 16th century to remind people of the events of that important day.

“The match played is an anthem to Florence, a symbol that is part of the identity of each Florentine and that adds a sense of belonging to our city.”




“Despite the fact that I had been excitedly telling everyone that I would be studying abroad in Florence for a semester, it didn’t sink in until I had lugged my suitcases up three flights of stairs in the early September humidity, and caught a glimpse of the Duomo from my balcony window. At the program orientation they discussed how it might take time to adjust and prepared us for various aspects of culture shock that students usually experience. Initially, these external influences didn’t really seem to affect me. My curiosity and eagerness to explore my new home led me down unknown cobblestone alleys, discovering amazing dishes that I severely butchered the pronunciation of. I loved everything Italy had to offer – amazing, fresh food; rich culture; and convenient access to the rest of Europe. Italy was spectacular, way better than charmless, concrete clad America.
Once classes started things began to feel more normalized, and I settled into a new routine consisting of pasta and gelato twice a day. As the previously unknown streets became familiar and favorite cafes were established, the initial honeymoon haze started to wane. I became aware of the absence of little aspects of home that I relied on to feel comfortable. For instance, I had no point of reference for any brands at the nearest Pam Local and the had to hunt through several pharmacies to find one that carried face wash. These novel experiences, not the different language or unfamiliarity with the city, were what reminded me daily that I was in a place very far away from home.
When preparing to study abroad I knew I wanted to do everything possible to take full advantage of the opportunity to be in Europe for an entire semester. I had a list of the places I wanted to go, and the weekends planned out to do so. What I wasn’t prepared for was how exhausting traveling practically every weekend would be. I pushed past the fatigue and sickness to explore new cities that I had dreamed about for so long. It continued to surprise me how places could appear very similar, but beyond surface-level experiences, are quite unique. Embracing interactions with locals while using public transportation, seeking restaurant recommendations, and participating in local and traditional celebrations provided invaluable insight into the daily life of each place I visited.
One experience that enriched my semester in Florence was the opportunity through my program to have dinner with a local Italian family. Every Tuesday my friend and I would walk to our family’s apartment on the outskirts of the city with empty stomachs, prepared for a decadent home cooked meal. During each visit I gained a much richer understanding of Tuscany and the Italian lifestyle in general from our lively, inquisitive discussions. While sometimes heavily aided by Google Translate on both sides, I was fascinated by their commentary every time. I loved discovering aspects of American life that were common place to me but seemed completely absurd to them, and visa versa.
Additionally, I was fortunate to be able to participate in an internship with Your Place in Florence. I had previous work experience in hospitality and marketing and was eager to see these fields approached through a different, Italian lens. From my time spent at Palazzo San Niccolò I gained an appreciation for the finer attention to details and aspects of running a local business compared to the more corporate environment I was a part of in the States. I thouroghly enjoyed collaborating with other members of the team while working on projects, and learned so much from their unique insights.
Beyond the material covered in my courses and cities explored, I learned so many things about myself during my time abroad. I began my semester in Florence as an obvious outsider and soon came to call it home. I cannot wait to see how my perspectives of my home in America have changed when I return based on what I have experienced this semester.”

Florence Hot Air Balloon Festival

Get to experience the city of Florence through a perspective unlike any other. A relatively new addition to Florence, the Festival delle Mongolfiere is sure to brighten your stay.

The festival began only two years ago and is held just a short distance from the city centre. Accessible by foot, train, bus, or taxi, make your way over to the Ippodromo del Visarno on October 13th-14th or the following weekend of the 20th-21st to witness the giants of the air light up the Florence sky.

There are many activities for both children and adults that are sure to captivate. For an unparalleled view of the city, take a ride in a free-flying or tethered balloon. For those that prefer the comfort of the ground, have your breath taken away by a musical performance of colourful balloons illuminating the night sky. If you want an even closer look, let reality fade as you explore the inside of two grounded balloons and hear the fantastic stories as told by the staff. Finally, for those travelling with children, the festival offers various free workshops and activities that allow creativity to run free.

photos by

Hot Air Balloon Festival 13-14, 20-21 October, 2018

For more details and the whole program, visit