8 June 2013
Firenze for another day trip. Yep, had to come for a second look; underestimated just how important this city was.
Yesterday was a write-off. My back ached. We needed to find a Laundromat in the bowels of Bologna and by the time we got back to our suburb the bloody tavernas were closed so we settled for a bar snack or two. We had fruit, bread, a bottle of Soave, tomato and cheese back in our hotel room so it wasn’t all bad. But the back was playing up and I needed rest. Today I am fine. But this is not all about me . . .is it? Hahaha. Anyway, we moved from our first hotel to a bargain placement at a Best Western Hotel for 3 days. Then I booked a night at Ancona in a hotel near the station at a good price. Meanwhile, today’s train ride to Florence was one of those gems one has when travelling. Rachel chose a cabin where only one young bloke was seated, and on our speaking in English to each other about our qualms of where to change trains, this young Italian assured us he was going to the same place. Then started one of those wonderful chance encounters. Besides much else we found we agreed upon, he was able to recommend to us a couple of places to eat in Firenze – after all, we would be arriving for lunch (now our main meal).
The countryside we travel through (Tuscanny) is as you will have read about: verdant, lush and Tuscanny-villa’d. Back in Firenze we struck out direct to our recommended eating place – and found it. It is well outside the tourist belt. Firenze/Florence is one very powerful tourist magnet – I’ve never come across so many tourists in one place. The food is superb, simple and inexpensive. The bread alone is worth a mention. Crusty, with the interior having a stone-ground bouncy texture, it had a rich flavour and aroma. It is, I would think, the quality of the flour. Florence is as it turns out renowned for the quality of its food and produce. I had a dish of kidneys in a bay leaf sauce and it was exquisite. Rachel had a gnocci that was so soft I questioned (with Rachel) its authenticity, but it was just the freshness and the texture of the ingredients that made it so. I also chose a mixed salad and Rachel some fried Zuchinni strips in a tempura-like batter. We washed it all down with a regional, house white wine. All was superb. We finished our feast with a typical regional desert – Biscotti (a dried bread with almonds) served with a sweet sherry for dipping the biscuit in. We were given a complementary one of these at the previous Firenze tratoria as we were about to depart but I didn’t know it was their desert – drank the sherry, ate the biscotti: thought it was a lovely gesture and left in a glow of amity. Oh it’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it!
We did another scout about though the tourist traps after our repast, checking out and taking snapshots of the old bridges over the river, especially the incredible Ponte Veccio. It featured in the film ‘Perfume’ and has olde shops over its length. Got the photos, drunk the beer and ate the food. Forgot to get the tee-shirt . . .
This Italy is growing on me. Hmmmmm.