FOUR NIGHTS IN FLORENCE
Kate Posener looks back at her four night stay in Florence in September.
To kick off our Florentine foodie feast we headed out to family-run La Terrazza del Principe nestled in the hills between our hotel (The Park Palace) and Villa Cora a few minutes’ drive outside of Florence. The chef is Sicilian and the Sicilian influence can be clearly seen on the menu. We loved this restaurant more for the setting than the food (there is a gorgeous terrace with magnificent views over Florence) although my Mum raved about her polpetinne de nonna, (small meatballs in a tomato sauce). There was a lovely buzzy atmosphere mainly created by the large party of people who were in Florence for a few days making a film for Ferrari.
After a morning visit to the stunning synagogue, we went to the nearby food market at Sant’ Ambrogio and rested our feet at what looked like a workman’s cafe (Da Rocco Trattoria), a tiny place buzzing with locals. One melanzane parmigiana to share and one glass of wine came to 11 euros!
We loved La Giostra (meaning carousel) and appreciated the warm hospitality of the owner who, in spite of a large, full restaurant, was highly attentive to us. We contemplated ordering starters but were so glad that we didn’t when we were presented with a complimentary platter of delicious and rich antipasti alongside a glass of prosecco. I ordered the obligatory tagliata and was not disappointed with this typical Florentine dish, served beautifully rare and with a tiny accompaniment of sweet roasted carrots and gratin dauphinois. We ordered red wine by the glass which the owner said he didn’t normally do. He opened a bottle specially for us and when we ordered another glass, he left the bottle on the table but didn’t charge us for the second glass. When the time came to leave, he ordered us a taxi and personally took us down to the main street to find it.
On our third night we chose Il Latini (which has belonged to the same family for more than a century) and opted for the 7.30 sitting. We arrived starving and bang on time to a crowd huddled together in a little backstreet. It was like a cattle auction with everyone raising their hands and calling out their names, nervous that they were not going to get fed. Tension hung in the air. We never thought this precarious system would work but everyone filed in to the cavernous restaurant in a neat and orderly fashion and eventually by 7.50 the entire first sitting was seated on long tables in one of several rooms and we began ordering. We shared a plate of chicken liver crostini and then we both ordered pasta bolognese and zucchini fritti and bottles of wine were placed on the table. I would definitely come back here but next time I might choose the later sitting -as we left at 9.30 the process seemed to be calmer.
For lunch on our last day we trekked across town in the heat in search of Trattoria 13 Gobbi as it had been recommended so many times on The Restaurant Club. We were rewarded with a huge, steaming and delicious plate of rigatoni in a tomato and mozzarella sauce but would love to come back and try this place in the evening as I think there would be more of a buzz.
On our fourth and final night we chose Cantinetta Antinori. Described online as a Tuscan wine bar, we were seated upstairs in the gallery with our back to the room, which impinged somewhat on our people watching! The restaurant was more formal than we thought (we should have guessed as it was next door to Hermes and in a street that reminded us of Bond St). I enjoyed my Osso Bucco.
WISH LIST: Next time I’d like to try the tuna tartare at beautiful trattoria Cammillo, the legendary pear ravioli at Quattre Leoni, oh and the award-winning ice cream that I read about in the Easyjet magazine on the flight home!!! Strawberry, chocolate and balsamic flavour at Ettamo Gelateria and Ricotta topped with chocolate and bergamot at Ara e Sicilia. How on earth did I miss that???!!!
COFFEE TIP: If you are careful where you stop for coffee, it can cost as little as one euro (we found a delightful spot in Palazzo Santo Spirito), otherwise if you choose to imbibe in one of the more touristy areas it can cost around five.