MY NINE: Pitti Gola & Cantina

Time for wine? You need to meet these two experts in Piazza de’ Pitti

Wine and Florence go hand-in-hand for those who love a good tipple, and the team behind Pitti Gola & Cantina serve up some of the finest bottles in the Renaissance capital. You will find Shannon and Edoardo Fioravanti behind the wooden counter at this boutique wine bar housed in an old bookstore overlooking the imposing stone facade of 15th century Pitti Palace. Intimate, with just five tables tucked beside old shelves that now hold wine bottles from Tuscany and the Piemonte district in Italy′s north. Edoardo, with his brother Zeno and business partner Manuele, opened their venture in 2008 and are on hand to offer their expertise to the discerning wine drinker. Wine is served by the glass or bottle, with a focus on small, independent producers with wine, and dinner tasting menu with pairings, and a private cellar room for small groups. People often say food and wine are the perfect pairings and it seems true at Pitti Gola & Cantina in more ways than just the culinary. Here the couple share their Florence.

1. Galleries I Love

There are so many amazing museums and galleries here in Florence it′s hard to choose just one. A favourite would definitely be the Opoficio delle Pietre Dure on via degli Alfani. It′s filled with mosaics made from coloured marble. The work is incredibly intricate and it′s wonderful to see this tradition continue on today. It′s also one of the less seen and visited galleries in Florence which makes it feel a little secret and special.

2. For A Perfect Dinner

For a truly special night, dinner at Ristorante Arnolfo in Colle di Val d′Elsa simply cannot be beaten. It′s not Florence however it′s worth visiting when travelling through Tuscany. We have celebrated many of our most important moments there over the years including the night when Edo proposed. This 2 Michelin-star restaurant is so warm and welcoming; the food is incredible and the wine list is fantastic. They also offer cosy bedrooms upstairs where you can spend the night, so a late afternoon check-in to your room is done by Chef himself, and then, whenever you are ready, your table is waiting for you downstairs. Eat, drink, enjoy and be wrapped in the luxury experience that is always so much more than just a meal. In the morning they present an amazing breakfast in the same room as dinner that is on par with everything thing else they do – it′s perfection!

3. For A Sweet Treat

If it′s a sunny day and we can escape for a morning treat, we love Pasticceria Giorgio in via Duccio di Boninsegna. The entire bartop is covered with drool-worthy sweets and their cream based treats are a favourite. If we are looking for something in the afternoon, right around the corner from our house is Pasticceria Buonamici. At 4.30am fresh from the oven bomboloni caldi (small, hot donuts) are available. They are light and fluffy yet cream filled goodness all at the same time. Absolutely the best in town!

4. My Florence Style

We don′t really consider ourselves very fashionable people. Florence has incredible fashion all around us all the time and it′s beautiful to see and admire. Our personal style is definitely more influenced by what we′re up to. For example, hiking boots and flannel jackets are best when mushroom hunting with the dog or, for work, a traditional suit for Edoardo and sheath dress for me presents us in a professional manner when we are in the Enoteca with clients.

5. Favourite Shopping Stores & Streets

The entire Oltrarno is packed with artisans making handmade, traditional and unique items. Via di Santo Spirito is lined with many of these tiny shops including Fiorile, my hands down favourite flower shop. Also, over in via dei Bardi is Il Torchio where our friend Erin makes incredible handcrafted leather items. She has created these little leather-bound books that look like phone holders for almost all of our family; we love her shop. For leather shoes, there is nowhere better than Antica Couieria in via del Corso. Their men and women range are classics, well made and everlasting Italian creations. I′m even wearing a cute pair of flats with gold buckles from them in these photos.

6. For Sunset Cocktails

Since our world is so wrapped up in wine we often look to unwind with cocktails. For a sunset view, the rooftop bar at Westin Excelsior can′t be beaten. We also are in love right now with Ditta Artiginale on via dello Sprone where our friends Kareem and Natalia are behind the bar mixing some of the most incredible libations in town. Also, speakeasy Rasputin in Santo Spirito is quickly becoming a favourite of ours as well. They have tons of small production and unheard of gins which makes us very happy. The entire location is so unique and has an almost sinful feeling that it makes even just a quick drink feel like you′ve been transported to another place and time.

7. For Art & Culture {beyond the obvious galleries}

I wish we got out more often for cultural excursions but to be honest if we find ourselves with time off we are either out in nature or enjoying the culinary cultural magic that Italy has to offer. Although, the culture behind cuisine is one to its own that we take time to appreciate. The different cuisines of the different regions here in Italy are varied and unique from the savoury little packages of goodness that are traditional Tortellini from Bologna (just 35 minutes by train from Florence), or the incredibly tender hand-cut steak tartare from Piemonte called Battuto di Fassona, or the fried, egg-shaped balls of rice with fish, meat or cheese from the south called Arancine. These are all dishes that speak to the specific area they are from and our kind of culture when not working.

8. Favourite Green Space In Florence

Last year we got a puppy Belgin Malinois, Isotta, and she has turned us into very outdoorsy people. Since she has a ton of energy every day, rain or shine, we are out in the green somewhere with her. Cascine Park in Florence is lovely and so huge, so we are often there. Also Il Boschetto on Via di Soffiano is a beautiful big park where we love to walk and play.

9. Escape To The Countryside {best day trip from Florence}

We have recently gotten into mushroom hunting. An escape to the forest at the Riserva Statale Vallombrosa is so beautiful and a well-preserved area because it′s a protected state park. Also, in the area of Consuma there are beautiful woods where the trails are marked for hiking and a great place to picnic. I never pegged myself for a woodsy person but I have started to love walking in the woods between the giant trees, listening to the bird′s chirp, breathing the fresh air and hunting down little delicious mushrooms. The dog has a great time jumping around, we all come home exhausted and happy from a little escape. My favourite to find so far have been the trobette di morte. They are black, trumpet-shaped mushrooms that have an almost truffle-like taste. Sautéed in butter then served over fresh taglioni pasta and knowing you found them yourself makes them taste even better.

Photo credit: Olga Makarova