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Italy's best historic venues

Italy's 10 best historic venues for quality after-work entertainment

From wine bars to restaurants, patisseries to inns, Italy is home to magical places to explore, including at the end of the day.

4 minutes

When you travel to a city for work, there's always the dilemma of how to spend your lunch break or what to see before leaving.

A good solution is to stop and catch a glimpse of the historical places scattered around the Italian city centres, so as to get to know the local culture, food and wine, and in the meantime travel with your imagination while thinking about the amazing stories these places have been involved in.

We therefore propose a trip to ten Italian temples of taste and hospitality, for a truly unforgettable experience.

Antica Enoteca Al Brindisi in Ferrara: the oldest tavern in the world

Street in the center of Ferrara

If you're in Ferrara and would like to sip a glass of wine, paired with some appetisers, drop by Al Brindisi. The ancient wine bar is just a stone's throw from the Cathedral, in the narrow alleyway of Via Adelardi, and boasts a Guinness World Record history.

In operation since the 12th century, when it offered sustenance to workers building the Duomo, in 1435 it was known as the 'Hostaria del Chiuchiolino' (from chiù, a contraction of ciucco, meaning drunk). Amidst racks of bottles and exposed beams, you can savour excellent Ferrara dishes, in the same place that hosted the sculptor Cellini, the painter Vecellio and the writers Tasso and Ariosto. Experience the charm of sitting at the same tables where the great Copernicus studied, in the oldest tavern in the world.

Antica Locanda Mincio, Grand Hotel Minerva and Hotel alla Posta: an unforgettable break

Valeggio sul Mincio

For a thrilling gastronomic experience in an atmosphere from another era, step into the Antica Locanda Mincio in Valeggio sul Mincio, in the province of Verona. First mentioned as a tavern in 1407, it has been the romantic rendezvous of great actors and directors, including Visconti. You can try the historic agnolotti past with butter or in broth, as well as many other specialities, served in elegant rooms amidst frescoes and inlaid wood.

One of Florence's historical venues is the Grand Hotel Minerva, in the heart of the city centre. Named the Grand Locanda Della Minerva in 1848, it is housed in a 14th-century palazzo, originally part of the monastery of Santa Maria Novella. It tells the story of its guests among works of art collected over time, frescoes and rooms with coffered ceilings. The style, enlivened first by Carlo Scarpa's architectural renovation in the 1950s, then by Tempesti Benelli's more recent one, enhances its history and makes it a truly enchanting place.

The Hotel alla Posta is located in Alleghe, in the heart of the Dolomites. 150 years ago, when the strategic importance of the place - on the border with the Austro-Hungarian Empire - was recognised, it became a point of attraction for foreigners, and today it offers its guests all kinds of comforts and excellent cuisine, based on traditional recipes.

Historic cafés and pastry shops: for a sweet break from work

Various desserts in a pastry shop

We conclude our journey by landing in the realm of Cafés and Pastry Shops.

Our first stop is in Bergamo, at the Pasticceria Balzer, a meeting place for artists such as Callas, Gassman and Mastroianni, and we sample the delicacies with which it has become famous, from Torta Donizetti to Polenta e osei. We reach Pavia, where the floral counters of the Pasticceria Vigoni serve the iconic dessert, Torta Paradiso.

Finally, we taste the truffle and panfrutto from Valenza's temple of sweetness, the 19th-century Pasticceria Barberis. It is no longer in its historic premises, but this does not affect the atmosphere or the recipes.

We then round off our tour of historic Italian establishments further south, in Ascoli Piceno, at Caffè Meletti, a rare example of Art Nouveau in the Marche region, at whose tables King Victor Emmanuel II himself once sat. Are you ready to make your business trip a pleasant one?

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