Florence, Italy

October 26, 2007

(October 13-20) Our destination club, Quintess, had recently added some “villas” in Florence and in Tuscany to our choices so we decided to try one of their Florentine places and invited Gary’s sister’s two children to join us. David and his girlfriend, Jennifer, arrived before we did; and his sister Jennifer missed her plane and a great week.

The property turned out to be a condo on the estate where Galileo served his house arrest. the-group-30-250.jpgThere are extensive grounds, a lovely pool and an undeterminable number of condos scattered around. Ours was in a two-storey building that contained 5 or 6 units. Ours was three bedrooms and baths, large living/dining room and kitchen.

It was very comfortable and easy to walk down the hill to get the bus to town or drive out to any of the Tuscan villages that appeal.

Largo Bargellini, 7/8; 055 2346123

Since we have eaten at Buddakan in New York and Philadelphia, we were interested in this place but it turned out to be no relation but good. The menu was Asian fusion, and dishes were marked with” K” (Korean), “J” (Japanese) or “C” (Chinese).That there were large groups of Asians there was one of the attractions mitigated somewhat when we realized that one was from a tour bus who had pre-ordered their food. However, the overall experience was totally positive: nice décor; pleasant, totally Oriental staff, and terrific food.

Cammillo Trattoria
Borgo San Jacopo, 57

On our last trip to Florence we had eaten here with Linda and Michael and thought we should try it again. We walked in at lunch without a reservation but were seated with no problem.
florence-17-250x154.jpgWe chose to sit in the front room with the open kitchen and what turned out to be the family table in the back. One by one, the family trickled in, two grand-daughters, a grandson and the son.Grandma was running the place and stopped at the family table periodically to take bites from their plates. She was also back in the kitchen sampling things quite often.

Our Fonterutoli Chinati Classico 2005 nicely complemented our first course and our main. Gary’s Parma ham with mozzarella was a very generous serving of high quality products. Varian’s sliced fresh porcini with parmesan was so good we made it one night for dinner a few nights later. The bistecca a la Fiorentina was just what it should be, rare and hulking, and the calves’ liver with beans a good example of this typical dish.florence-7-300x225.jpg

Via Maccia, 055 2341100;

This remains our favorite in Florence. And although we are hardly alone in that assessment, we were virtually the only diners at lunch.
As always, as we were seated we were given a menu that just said, simply, in Italian, “First Course 10€”, “Second Course 15€”, and “Dessert or Cheese 10€”. florence-25-250x174.jpgShortly, the chief waitperson, in what is a hallmark of this establishment, pulled up a chair and began to explain what was on offer that day for those courses. Among the four of us we had pumpkin soup, mushroom soup, spicy fish soup, pappa al pomodoro and soft polenta with parmesan.If you are counting that is five but since we had trouble deciding, we were comped the fifth. florence-26-300x211.jpgOur main courses were sausage and beans with cavolo nero; chicken meat balls in a red sauce; vitello tonnato; and porcini mushrooms, baked in their own juices in foil, opened at the table and drizzled with oil and accompanied by beans.We were advised not have the cheese today as the selection was limited. Not a problem for four dessert lovers. So we had flourless chocolate cake and panna cotta with chocolate sauce. The suggestion of Castello di Ama Chianti Classico was well-received and much appreciated at 26€.

Villa San Michele
Via Doccia, Fiesole; 055 5678200
villa-michele-1-300x225.jpgOf course we chose the only day in our week-long stay that was less than perfectly clear to drive up to Fiesole and attempt to enjoy the view from the restaurant at the Villa San Michele. In spite of that, however, it was fabulous. We ate on the terrace looking out over all of Florence or at least what we could see of it. We ate simply, starting with a ribollita and a Caprese salad and then ending with a tarragon chicken salad. villa-michele-2-300x207.jpgWe were there for the view and to see the elegant hotel and its grounds.

It was spectacular. But, we must go back for complete meal and the view on a clear day.

Via Pian dei Giullari, 11; 055 220053

A short walk around the corner from our place is the little village of Pian dei Giullari, and in it a small restaurant cum grocery store. In the store at the entrance we noticed a wide variety of salamis and hams with vegetables and fruits on display to the left.

Back in the dining room, it opened up to views out over the hills. We started with some of the salamis and a fresh artichoke and parmesan salad. Three of us finished with the sliced steak served over arugula, but Gary tried the ravioli with meat sauce (here they offer three or four pastas and as many sauces and the diner mixes and matches).

And, since we decided not to have dinner that evening, we bought a chocolate dessert to eat at home. Next time we are at this villa, we will not only eat here but do some of our shopping at Omero because it is so convenient and good.


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