A vibrant scene of creative Florence youngsters is thriving on the rich artisanal history of the city. Blogger Georgette Jupe has met them all. She shows us around the narrow streets of Florence and gives us a personal tour of her favorite spots in a smart forfour.
Georgette Jupe has some advice on exploring: Don’t stress it – all the secret spots have already been found, anyway. Originally from Texas, the Florence transplant admits that she still feels like a tourist at times. Her curiosity and love for the Italian city fuel her blog Girl in Florence. Zooming past ancient facades and through narrow alleys in a cadmiumred smart forfour – the spacious, flexible, and still superbly city-compatible four-seater by smart – we get to meet some of the protagonists of Georgette’s blog.
Ciao, Georgette! Thanks for showing us around. How much of the city do you still get to enjoy while working from behind the screen?
Georgette Jupe: My work is not limited to the computer – I might pop into a store, say hi to a friend, or get a gelato. It’s important to be social not only online, but also offline.
Then take us on the road – where do we start?
Georgette Jupe: Whenever I set out to discover a city, I usually start at a coffee shop. It’s where people congregate. Ditta Artigianale is going beyond the typical quick espresso. It stands for more of a contemporary coffee culture. You can choose the beans for your coffee and the place has a cool design, so do sit down and take your time. At night, it turns into a really good bar with one of the best bartenders in Florence.
Your blog portrays all sorts of fascinating people. What’s unique about the Florentines?
Georgette Jupe: All over the city, you can find people crafting things with their own hands, people who have a story. Aqua Flor is an example. It’s an artisan perfumery, housed in a 16th century palazzo in the Santa Croce district. You can smell the store before you even get there. Being in the store will make you feel like you’re in a different era. In their basement lab, they compose all the scents themselves and even host perfumery workshops.
Let’s get to it: What’s for lunch?
Georgette Jupe: For a lunch break, you should definitely check out Semel, a lovely panino shop in the heart of Sant’Ambrogio. It’s a small space but it’s very Florentine. They only use seasonal products sourced directly from the market. Try the sandwich with anchovies, orange, and fennel on a delicious crusty bread.
What do the locals like to eat?
Georgette Jupe: A traditional Florentine food is lampredotto, a dish based on the intestines of a cow. Traditionally, it’s peasant food and part of the “cucina povera”, served from food carts. Every cart has its own style. My favorite is called Il Trippaio di San Frediano at Piazza dei Nerli. I enjoy that it’s really casual.
Who else can we meet?
Georgette Jupe: Let’s swing by Officina Nora, a unique co-working space and workshop for jewelry artisans in the hip Oltrarno neighborhood. It opened in 2014 in a former mechanic’s shop. I am constantly impressed by what they come up with. While you have old Florentine brands and the trademark gold shops on Ponte Vecchio, creative places like Officina Nora are looking forward. They work using traditional techniques but enrich and evolve them with fresh ideas. That’s why I wanted to live here. I wanted to be among that spirit.
Do you think there is a growing demand for sustainable products?
Georgette Jupe: Absolutely. Florence is the kind of place where you can have farm-fresh vegetables delivered right to your door. The Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio sells fresh local produce and great affordable cheeses every morning. Italians are very proud of their food, the seasonality and sustainability of it.
Do you like to get away from the buzz of downtown every now and then?
Georgette Jupe: Oh yes! There is this panoramic point near San Miniato al Monte, a nearly 1,000 year old basilica standing atop one of the highest points of Florence. From there, you enjoy a stunning view of the entire city. Its impressive cemetery houses famous figures like the creator of Pinocchio. The back roads are also beautiful: pretty tree-lined streets – perfect for walking without large crowds.
The afternoon sun flashes between the cypress trees and is reflected by the shiny red smart forfour gliding through the hills above Florence. We follow the winding road and let the warm air flow in through the wide-open sunroof. The smart Spotify playlist “open FOR summer” is the perfect soundtrack. The colorful facades in the streets and alleys radiate the day’s warmth. The streets are pulsating with life.
Now it’s time for a treat…
Georgette Jupe: Let’s grab some gelato. My Sugar is a newer kind of gelateria in the constantly evolving San Lorenzo neighborhood. What I adore about them is that they really care about what they do. Alberto, one of the owners, is Florentine through and through. He worked in the leather trade for over a decade and then decided to go for something new and take this huge risk, opening a gelateria in a place that already has lots of gelaterias. You have to have respect for that. They were written about in the New York Times and really made a name for themselves. I love it when someone gets the attention they deserve.
Now, where can we unwind from the day?
Georgette Jupe: Head to Pitti Gola e Cantina. It’s a very small space and located across the street from the famous Palazzo Pitti museum. At Pitti Gola, they have a tendency to choose wines that aren’t necessarily only Tuscan. I like whenever a wine bar picks a small producer and is excited to talk about it. They also serve excellent food, from wonderful burrata to handmade pasta. Naturally, after a glass of wine, I will leave the car in the garage.
Well, we certainly got around today. What does mobility mean to you in a city?
Georgette Jupe: In a city like Florence, having a small car is definitely an advantage. Nowadays, people are more aware of factors like ease of parking or electric vehicles. The smart is great to get around. Carsharing services like car2go with the smart fortwo are extremely popular here. In my line of work, getting from A to B quickly is especially important.
Music makes driving more fun. What’s on your personal playlist?
Georgette Jupe: Cheerleader by OMI was actually part of my wedding playlist. It’s just a fun song that you can really get into. It’s a very good mood song for when I’m on the road. It also makes me feel connected to the United States, which is nice. I like discovering current music on Spotify, for example via the new smart Spotify playlists that are perfectly curated for driving in the city.
Her move to the Tuscan city of Florence, more than a decade ago, inspired Georgette Jupe to document her experiences. In her successful blog Girl in Florence, the Texas native explores topics ranging from daily life, food, boutique shopping, and events to features on designers, artisans, and all the people who contribute to the city’s unique character. Georgette also works as the editor at ITALY Magazine, along with creating social media strategies for a range of clients. With her husband Nico and her beagle Ginger, she lives in the bustling heart of Florence.
Local Secrets Florence:
Via dei Neri, 32R, 50122 Florence
Via Borgo Santa Croce, 6, 50122 Florence
Via dei Preti, 4, 50125 Florence
Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti, 44, 50122 Florence
Il Trippaio di San Frediano
Piazza dei Nerli, 50124 Florence
Via de’Ginori, 49, 50123 Florence
My Sugar on Facebook
Pitti Gola e Cantina
Piazza de’ Pitti, 16, 50125 Florence
Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti, 45, 50122 Florence
San Miniato al Monte
Via delle Porte Sante, 34, 50125 Florence