Firenze – with Camera

7 June 2013

FirenzeThe high-speed train took us only about 3/4hr to get here, but most of the trip was through tunnels (the Italians are renowned for their tunnelling) thereby decreasing the time spent en tren but destroying the scenic pleasures of train travel. Such is progress. We left the crowded and very touristic area around the central station and plodded off in search of our Menu Del Dia. Granted, it did take us a while and some distance, but we were ultimately rewarded. For 1st course I chose a pasta dish with a fresh tomato salsa and Rachel chose the Carbonara. Both were excellent. For the 2nd, I chose a roasted pork chuletta that was tender, almost to a fault, served in a delicious gravy. Rachel chose roasted portions of chicken. Her 3rd choice was a small patter of those large white beans in a light tomato salsa, while I finished with an ensalada mixta. Olive oil, balsamic and white wine vinegar and a mild chilly-in-oil dressing were complementary as was the hearty and delicious bread. This was for 13 Euros each, but we blew the budget with a couple of half litre carafes of spritzy house white wine. The restaurant had a rapid turnover of (obviously) local folk while we leisurely tarried over our meal. We’d struck gold. It was so pleasing to have found something so locally typical and away from all the tourist restaurants with their menus written in English. This is one very busy tourist town. And justly so as we found as we meandered back into the heart of it.  Foto foto foto! It’s one of those places. Stunning olde architecture:  Basilicas, churches, fortresses and offices of the rulers from time immemorial. Stunning. We considered coming in for a second run – the rail fare can be very cheap (we did a return trip for 8.50 Euros each by a rural and slower train). We may or may not, as we didn’t cover all its glorious sights today, but then, hell,  we’ve seen a few architectural wonders already (especially in Spain and Greece) and we are never going to see all the world’s wonders. We also encountered a bar or two today that serve similar food to the Spanish – by that I mean superb little snacky things (but not tapas) served on artisan bread. Saw more, bewildering, bursting-to-the-seams delicatessens today at a market we encountered. Oh what a friend we have in cheeses.

About to land back in Bologna. This rural train’s accompanying scenery is lovely. It’s hilly and verdant out this way and one glimpses great old fincas/villas. Slow is much better ain’t it, though this one’s average speed is about 100kph! I’d hate to guess at the speed of that bullet shaped train we went out on.

One in the eye: I recently had an intense conversation with a friend, Arthur Gatley (a friend of Freddo Dirk) about the corking of wine in bottles, as opposed to the affixing of screw caps. Australia has been completely sold on the screw cap – a marketing coup, a method sold to the vintners for its expediency, lower cost, and purported non-contaminating properties. My argument, which I maintain to this day, is that wine, stoppered with a cork but which has become bad, can be directly attributed to incorrect storage. The bottles are supposed to be stored lying down in order that the cork, a natural product, absorbs some of the wine’s moisture and swells, thus completing the seal. Simple. But no one is going to tell an Aussie how to store his wine. Screw that! So they happily bought the screw cap concept.

Well, you New World folk down under – shove this in your pipe and smoke it: I can’t find a bottle of wine here (and you just know I’ve been looking at them) with a screw cap. Of course, you could say – “Well, what do the Italians know about wine? Eh?”

There are signs that it is going to be a very hot summer here. Phew.