Dictionary of the Middle Ages. Vol. 7. Italian Renaissance - by Joseph R. Strayer

By Joseph R. Strayer

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See chapter 3. • Caffè Rivoire (Florence): The pudding-rich hot chocolate of Florence’s premier historical cafe is second to the real reason for a visit: its dead-on view of the city’s greatest piazza and a front-row THE BEST CAFES seat for people-watching. The ambience is Old World inside and out: The stately Palazzo Vecchio looms in front of outdoor tables and the piazza’s most celebrated statue, a copy of Michelangelo’s fabled David. Inside it’s cozy and elegant, and no one raises an eyebrow if you nurse a tea for several hours.

If you’re really strapped for cash, go with the mineral water, then stop off at a wine bar after dinner and choose one very special cru-by-the-glass in a convivial ambiente. SIGHTSEEING 41. Make a beeline for the Tourist Information Office to check out special events, free concerts, arts festivals, and so on, to maximize your (always too brief ) stay in town. Some museums offer one evening a week free. Outdoor evening or church concerts are free, not infrequent, and lovely. Ask your hotel staff; they are often more helpful and informed than the tourism people.

Luckily, ATMs (automated teller machines) are now found just about everywhere, even in the smallest towns, so cash is readily available and, as luck would have it, banks in Italy do not (as of yet) charge you a fee for using their bank—though your home bank probably will for using an out-of-network ATM, as well as a premium for withdrawing foreign currency (for more, see “ATMs,” below). It’s a good idea to exchange at least some money—just enough to cover airport incidentals and transportation to your hotel—before you leave home so you can avoid lines at airport ATMs.

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