Our Italian sojourn was both a walking and food porn holiday. Before and after our Italian Camino (called Via Francigena in these parts), we indulged ourselves. From Florence to Lucca to Pisa to Viterbo to Roma and the Amalfi coastal towns of Sorrento and Capri. You can say we more than encouraged (pre-Camino) and rewarded (post-Camino) ourselves here. Well, there is life beyond pizza and pasta! For this post, let me start with our gastronomic adventures in Florence.
We arrived early morning in Roma, had our fill of cappuccinos, cornetto and cannoli, then took the noontime express train to Firenze, arriving way past noon. Munched on a Lampredotto (tripe) panini while waiting for my niece to arrive in our “suki” hotel. The hotel owner promptly gave us a map with all the recommended eats just a few blocks away. By the time my niece arrived my mind couldn’t be distracted away from bistecca images. I knew that if we didn’t order this Chianina beef for dinner that I’d dream about it and wake up drooling 😬
Trattoria Mario was closed for dinner. So we went to Trattoria ZaZa in the same area near Mercato Centrale. Bistecca aside, we also enjoyed their Ribollita (a hearty potage with bread and veggies) and Papardelle Cinghiale (slightly spicy meat from wild boar, cooked in tomato sauce). You just have to give it to the Florentines to honor their cattle and hogs with such delicious cuisine. As my good friend says, these animals didn’t die in vain. And they perished leaving such savory memories to the lips of the living. 😜
We got so fixated on the bistecca and Papardelle Cinghiale that we ordered the same stuff a day before leaving Firenze. This time, in Trattoria Garibardi which even provided us with a plate of salumi and liver pâté crostinis. But instead of Chianti, I tried the bolder Bolgheri wine. Pricey, but my niece is paying 🍷An even better meal, I have to say. Having said that, I know that between TA rankings and actual queues (of locals), I’d definitely trust the latter more. As for the acclaimed, revered cantuccini dipped in vin santo, I won’t really rave about it. This biscotti and dessert wine combination I can do without.
Firenze is an easy stroll. I like that almost every site is walkable. Except for San Miniato, Piazza Michelangelo and Fiesole, you don’t need the bus. And there are so many food stalls to keep one satiated and energized for long walks. The Lampredotto is claimed to be best in Mercato Centrale’s Nerbone but I can be just as satisfied getting it from any street stall selling such, along with the equally delicious porchetta sandwiches. And I need not wait in line. Panini purchases from these stalls followed by a gelato make for a good meal without wasting much time lining up for seats in some trattoria or osteria. Of course you can always make reservations in a pricey ristorante…..
MAMMA MIA……. Voglio mangiare bistecche 😛