Claudio Meli, the plugged-in general manager of the stylish hotel J.K. Place Firenze—and author of J.K. Essential Guide to Florence—shares the city’s lesser-known pleasures.


Buca Lapi: One of the city’s oldest restaurants, in the old wine cellars of Palazzo Antinori, attracts locals and visitors alike. Order the bistecca alla fiorentina.

La Giostra: More than your average trattoria: the menu is a smart blend of Italian and Austrian and the mood is always light, thanks to the owner, Soldano, who’s a real character.

Trattoria Mario: Like a piece of 1950s Italy, the casual lunch spot has a Tuscan menu (penne al sugo, roast chicken) that sources ingredients from the nearby market.


Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio: A typical morning food market. Taste cheese, ham, and olive oil and feel like a real Florentine. Piazza Ghiberti.

Vasari Corridor: A walk through this elevated passage, built for the Medici family in 1565, is a oncein- a-lifetime experience. Book a private tour with Bravo Concierge.

Bargello National Museum: The less crowded alternative to the Uffizi Gallery houses impressive Renaissance sculptures, including Donatello’s David.


Dr. Vranjes: My top source for home fragrances. Paolo Vranjes’s glass bottles make perfect souvenirs.

Annamaria Cammilli: A fine jeweler located next to the Piazza della Signoria and a must for anyone seeking pieces made in the city.

Liverano & Liverano: One of Italy’s most important tailors for men’s suits—the owner still cuts fabrics in the back room.

—Edited by Lindsey Olander