While Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance and can be really inspring and intimidating when you visit it, I bring back memories of uphill climbs that made all the florentine food we ate guilt free, more than anything else. Oh yes! When you walk 17 kms a day, everything on the menu is allowed and you can indulge without guilt. We ate at some of the iconic places in Florence and discovered some new ones. I share some of my memorable meals, and hope that I am back again soon in this lovely city that celebrates Art and food with equal fervor.
The Best Pizza and a Breathtaking Panorama
We earned ourselves the right to unlimited calories, or so we thought after our uphill climb to enjoy some of the most splendid views of Florence from Piazza Michelangelo. While you can choose to take a bus, or take a taxi we decided to climb up having no idea how steep that climb actually was. Wear walking shoes, those wedges aint gonna make the climb any sweeter. I must add however that it was well worth the climb as we basked in panoramic views of Florence and a David replica. I feel they made it really tacky so that we appreciate doubly the glory of the David Statue in Uffizzi. We were lucky we reached when it was still bright and managed to stay until dark. The Piazza is crowded and people tend to buy their food and drink and prop themselves on the stairs, to enjoy the view. The panorama across the Arno – dome and belltower of the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio’s clock tower and various church steeples – is probably the photo of Florence that you often see and it’s important that you have your own 🙂
Famished and tired, we simply walked back and ended up at Bevo Vino a little place we saw as we climbed down the steps and were making our way back to our hotel. It’s in the funky San Nicolo neighborhood, which you have to pass by to get back to the Arno, and the Ponte Vecchio. It is a Wine Bar, and the Mister decided to have the Peroni Rossa Beer. The pièce de résistance was the pizza which was the day’s special. We still sigh when we think of this Pizza and hope that we will bump into this somewhere. Otherwise we may just have to go back to Italy for this. Sunk our teeth into this gorgeous piece of food art, seemed like a margherita, topped with fresh roquette and succulent fresh Buffalo Mozarella.
When the Wait is Worth it – Trattoria Mario
Our next meal that I think of often was at Trattoria Mario. It is run by three generations of the Colzi family it is famous for it’s Florentine home style food. It’s a comfortable walk from the Duomo on Via Rosina. This was one line we were glad we waited in. It is open only for lunch and shut on Sundays, no skipping lines and all you can do is hope people ahead of you drop out!
We waited about 45mins to get a table, albeit one that we had to share with a group of people and another couple. Very udipi-esque in that sense, and had the same no nonsense, eat and leave kind of vibe. Very chaotic and lively in a way. Lots of screaming, it’s hot, and a lot of locals eat there. Gets my vote.
Apparently here everyone eats together and when Fabio Colzi calls out your name you get to your table, sharing it with strangers, but with a common goal, of eating authentic florentine cuisine. I was impressed with was with the way he pronounced my name “Soowaathi” , which was amazing, as my name tends to be quite a tongue twister for most foreigners.
Trattoria Mario’s Ribollita is world famous and luckily for us it was on the menu. It’s a vegetable soup soaked in bread, and frankly is a wholesome meal by itself. That is the first time I had it, and I have not seen it on too many menus since.
The second item on my list was the Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Ravioli in a fresh tomato and basil sauce. The Ravioli was generously filled and the sauce itself is one of the freshest I have had, I can still taste the flurry of flavors in my mouth.
Their olive oil I had read is so good, that they supply to restaurants, so we ordered that with some bread. The bread of course in true tuscan style is not with salt, but the olive oil is seasoned well. When you do have the olive oil it’s easy to understand why they supply to others.
Coffee & Gelato Scouts
In between all this, I managed to have coffee at three of their coffee shops.
Scudieri which is right opposite the Duomo, a perfect spot for dessert, or coffee before or after you make the trek up. We decided to go before. Ordered a regular Cappucino and a Macchiato. The second spot that we tried was the Roberto Cavalli Cafe – Cafe Giacosa. I indulged in a Cafe Completo which had espresso, hazelnut and chocolate. Their hot chocolate is wickedly rich and good too.
Gelato at Grom is probably a must. I’m not a fan of chains and retail but Grom seems different and the gelato is definitely does not seem mass produced but a lot more fresh and natural. We managed to sample 5 flavors. Madagascar Vanilla, Chocolate Extra Noir, pistachio (always) Hazelnut and Coffee. If I could have 2 flavours again, it would be the hazelnut and pistachio!
Pilgrimage to the top of the Duomo.
It is indeed an experience that I will cherish, climbing up the duomo, to the top of the Cupola. It is 463 steps, there’s no elevator and it really is a narrow spiral staircase. It is an adventure, and easily an exercise in bonding with fellow human beings and patience. Sometimes the path to go up and the path to come down is the same, so it is an excercise in co-ordination and god bless you, if you are on the heavier side. Very few windows can leave you claustrophobic, but you get through it all to enjoy a view of the cradle of the renaissance.
These are only a few activities that I enjoyed in Florence. It really is the tip of a whole world of history, art and culture waiting to be explored. These are some of my favorite experiences from my trip. If you are reading this, I hope that it helps you. I would also love to hear about your recommendations, so that I am all geared up for my next trip!