My favourite country to visit is Italy. Sorry France, you come a very close second! I love the picturesque villages and towns, beautiful landscapes and bustling cities. The architecture and attention to detail in Italian art and design work is inspirational. And of course the food is amazing.c
Sometimes I feel I need a little hit of Italian design or food experience to tide me over until our next visit. Here’s where I go in London to get my Italian fix.
Favourite places to eat, shop and experience Italian culture in London
Shopping for fine Italian goods
At Fabriano Boutique in Covent Garden you will find exquisite Italian designed and made stationery and ephemera. Fabriano is one of the world’s oldest brands and is based in Verona, Italy. The company has been making paper since the 13th century and claims Michelangelo as a former customer.
For those who appreciate Italian design and quality, independent boutique Aime stocks cult Italian fashion brands Forte Forte and Faliero Sarti. There are branches in Nottinghill and Shoreditch.
The Italian Bookshop (part of the European bookshop) in Kensington is a fantastic resource for both native Italian speakers and students alike. Here you will books suited to all age groups and levels of fluency in Italian. We found a nice collection of children’s stories including the Italian version of the kids classic The Gruffalo here.
European Bookshop – 123 Gloucester Road, Kensington, London, SW7 4TE
Italian art in London
I like to duck into the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square for short bursts at a time. I like to focus on discovering more about a particular painting or artist. The huge collection of Italian masters at the gallery spans the early Renaissance to Rococco eras. Here you can see by The Virgin on the Rocks by Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo’s The Entombment.
Don’t know where to start? Follow this downloadable trail and guide of the big three artists – da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael.
The National Gallery is open daily from 10am every day except 1st January and 24-26 December. Visiting the main collection is free.
There is a small but beautiful collection of Italian renaissance art at The Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House. Here you can see an altarpiece by Botticelli and works by Venetian artists Totto and Tintoretto.
The gallery is open daily from 10am to 6pm. Closed 25th and 26th December. Check the website for admission prices. These change depending on current exhibitions.
If I am in the mood for modern art, the Esoterick has a wonderful collection featuring the 1970s Italian Futurism movement.
The gallery is open Wednesday to Saturday 11am – 6pm, Sunday 12pm to 5pm. Admission is £5
Please note The Esoterick is closed until January 2017 for renovation.
Italian Gardens in London
It is thought that Prince Albert built the Italian Gardens at Kensington Palace for Queen Victoria as a gesture of love. Designed in the formal Italian style the gardens feature ornate fountains and urns made from Carrara marble. The gardens are usually quiet and a lovely place to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Italian food in London
There are a six branches around the city but we like the restaurant in Covent Garden for pre theatre drinks and delicious cicchetti or Venetian style tapas. You must try the spicy pork and fennel meatballs.
Canto Corvino in Spitalfields is great for dinner. The vibe is casual and the food creative and delicious. We enjoyed the wine selection from the sommelier and the overall service is excellent.
21 Artillery Lane London E1 7HA
We discovered Bianco 43 via a Sicilian who has lived in London for nearly a decade. We usually make our pizza at home but if we are hungry near Trafalgar Square or in Greenwich we make a stop by Bianco 43. The dough here is made fresh daily to a secret recipe and the ingredients used are locally sourced where possible. The pizzas are light and chewy and delicious. I like the D.O.P. with buffalo mozzarella.
Not yet officially opened but already in my heart, Mercato Metropolitano is an exciting new concept bringing small producers Italian food to London. Housed in an old paper factory, here you will find an Italian produce and wine market as well as many food stalls specialising in a wide variety of regional food and wine.
It is a large and welcoming place with plenty of tables and benches to sit and enjoy an antipasto plate or some pizza in the revamped industrial location. More than a place to eat, Mercato aims to bring a sense of community to the space with a focus on sustainable practices and cultural events.
I like to think I am a gelato connoisseur and I cannot stop thinking about the amazing flavours at the Badiani gelateria. This Florentine company has been making gelato since 1932. Highly recommended.
Open Tuesday to Sunday 11am-11pm
42 Newington Causeway London SE1 6DR
Nearest tube: Elephant and Castle
One of my favourite coffee spots in London, Princi is a haven of northern Italian sophistication in busy Soho. The pizzeria is open from 8.00am until late for all meals of the day. My favourite is the bakery where I defy you to resist the cakes. My favourite is their tiramisu.
135 Wardour Street London, W1F 0UT
Open 08.00 am until late
My favourite coffee spot close to home, Dolcezza is also an Italian pasticceria making all their treats on site. The coffee is excellent and very reasonably priced. The huge cafe at Oval has free wifi and easy access to amazing cakes. Sometimes I think I will never leave.
139 Clapham Road, London, England.
Open Mon to Sat 7:30am – 6pm and Sundays from 9.00am
I’m always looking for new places to try. Where are your favourite Italian haunts in London?
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