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Francis Bown, Bown's Best

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See below for the latest May 2016 Reviews

Bernini Palace Hotel, Florence, Italy | Bown's Best


The Bernini Palace is a good five-star hotel in one of the very best locations in Florence. It is also distinguished by the friendliness of its staff and by the excellence of its General Manager. Mr David Foschi has been at the hotel for thirty years (man and boy, one might say, for he is still youthful – as the photograph with your correspondent shows). He clearly loves the place, and his affection appears to be shared by his whole team. Certainly, everyone I encountered during my stay seemed to be happy in his or her work. And, as we all know, a happy staff makes for happy guests.

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Ristorante & Wine Bar Dei Frescobaldi, Florence, Italy | Bown's Best


One really needs to drink well in Florence. The magnificence of Florentine art can be so overpowering that aesthetic ‘overload’ can set in. Then some really good wine is necessary to recharge the batteries. And I know the perfect place to find such sustenance. It has a magic name: Frescobaldi. This ancient and noble family produces some of the very best wines in Italy. Indeed, those who love their wine can be confident that even the cheaper wines produced by the Frescobaldi wineries will be good examples of their type. I was therefore delighted by the prospect of visiting the Frescobaldi Restaurant in Florence. And its location, on one corner of the famous Piazza della Signoria (home of Michelangelo’s statue of David – or, at least, the copy which stays out in the weather), only served to heighten my anticipation.


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Ristorante Buca Mario, Florence, Italy | Bown's Best


Florence is a place for the gourmand as well as the aesthete. In the former’s search for gastronomic enjoyment, there is one dish for which less is most definitely not more. It is a dish which reflects the Florentine love of excess. It is, of course, the Bistecca alla Fiorentina. And the most famous place at which it can be found is the splendid Ristorante Buca Mario.


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Francis Bown 2003
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