Rome? It was awe-inspiring, the way things that are 3,000 years old can be. And it was beautiful in its own ancient way. And Romans? Well, they're just beautiful, and beautifully put-together.
But Firenze... well, that's just another world entirely. Just as we refer to someone with myriad talents as a "Renaissance man/woman", so is Florence a Renaissance city. THE Renaissance city, if you will.
She is by turns religious and pagan, a dichotomy of broad brush strokes and fine pencil etchings, she's the San Francisco to Rome's New York - a little more out there, but still refined.
I loved Florence. Can you tell?
So. Let's move on to the food, shall we?
First off, let me say that I was shocked when Amanda posted a comment about her meal at Il Latini, because that was in fact where I'd gotten a bit sloshed the night I put up that post.
Il Latini appears to be a total tourist trap, and I'm really glad I didn't do any research online before I left the states -- if I had, my tourist-trap radar would have fired on all cylinders, and we likely would have missed out on what was ultimately a really fun dinner.
Food here is served family style, but not before a 2-litre jug of house chianti is set in front of you. The chicken liver crostini were indulgently rich, while the farro salad was squarely the opposite -- light, fresh, texturally interesting. Truly, I could have eaten a bowl full. But what ultimately made the meal (as, again, nearly everywhere in Tuscany) was the beef. Though I was denied* the nearly three pound Bistecca alla Fiorentina, I managed to polish off a nearly 10 oz filet. Like I said before, beef here is just different. And by different I mean So Much Better.
On our second night in Florence, we met a few of Karen's friends for dinner at Il Francescano, near Piazza Santa Croce. Ironically, I had walked by this place early in the day while I was meandering about, taking photos, and nearly went in for a bite. You can only imagine the squeal of joy I let out at this being the restaurant her friend Paolo had picked.
I remember less about this meal than most of them, simply because the company was so superb. Andrea and his girlfriend Elena both speak very good English, but Paolo is... less than practiced. Somehow, that didn't matter at all, particularly when he would say something so hilarious that it would result in all of us doubled over in laughter. (What I do remember, clear as day, was their tiramisu -- again with the cows, but this time, the mascarpone... why can't we get dairy that tastes like this here??)
Florence really and truly captured my heart, and while I was sad to be leaving after two days, I now know that future trips to Italy will likely include this wonderful city in the itinerary.
Via dei Palchetti, 6R
Largo Bargellini, 16 (nr. Piazza Santa Croce)