A Jewel of a City: Firenze

Our good friends, Tom & Vicki, invited us to come to Florence for a night. They’d rented an apartment and there was room for us as well. We hadn’t been to Florence in over a year, and it just seemed like a great idea to go for a giro and visit that wonderful city again.

I’d forgotten just how beautiful it truly is. Firenze is like a fantasy, like a glittering jewel box, with pearls of beauty to be found everywhere that you look. Between the tension of getting here, and trying to settle in and then doing a 4 day pitched battle with Italian bureaucracy trying to obtain the elusive permesso di soggiorno…we were ready to kick back.

Jeff and I had a little of the woo-hoo we’re on holiday feeling, so we headed over to the Savoy Hotel for cocktails.  I think we were both curious to see how the Italians handle cocktails, now that we are cocktail aficionados. Jeff and I both had classic Manhattans, but forgot to ask for a twist instead of a cherry, Tom had a gin lemon drop which was lovely and Vicki had an overly tart berry martini. The drinks were good, but I had to say for 16 euros a drink (!!) I was expecting at least a fancy garnish. Am I crazy or is that a whole lot of money, in any currency, for a cocktail??

Forsaking the ristorante, and embracing the trattoria, we went to Coco Lezzone (Via Parioncino, 26/R) for dinner. I’m not sure what is going on this rainy, cool June; but there are good porcini mushrooms to be had and Coco Lezzone has a way with farfalle (bowtie) pasta and porcini that was incredible. So incredible that after the four of us shared one bowl, we had to order another bowl.

We were staying at an apartment right off the Ponte Vecchio on the Santo Spirito side of the Arno, and some new and very chic restaurants have sprung up. We ate breakfast in one of the chicest coffee bars I’ve ever been to, Ocafe, on via de Bardi 54/56. It is an absolutely beautifully designed space with a great use of light and space. And the coffee wasn’t bad either.

After a long walk around town, where we tortured Tom by looking at every single shoe that was on display, we tracked down an old favorite trattoria Sostanze-Croia, via del Porcellana, 25 R. It’s on a tiny side street, over by the Grand and Excelsior Hotel, and it’s this funny little quirky place that makes the best chicken dish I’ve ever eaten in Italy. Honest.  I mean, who comes to Italy to eat chicken? The dish is called ‘petto di pollo in burro’, or chicken breast in butter. Again, not something that you might be attracted to at first glance. The breast has a little flour and salt coating, then is cooked in brown butter and finished with a squirt of lemon juice. As my friend Stacey says, “It is beyond!”  The chicken is pillowy soft, with a slight, salty crunch combined with the sultry nuttiness of the brown butter…..beyond.

Then it was time to head back to Montone. Our wallets were lighter, but so was our spirit….Firenze is indeed a magical city.  We came home restored and almost ready to do resume battle with the CGIL/INAC (who makes up these an acronyms??) so that we can finally get our papers.
And Judy, if you are reading this, I PROMISE we’ll be back soon and we’ll come to see you!!


  1. mitch on June 16, 2008 at 8:46 am

    wow – $16 euro for a drink – what is this, Manhattan or London? So, how was the drink, anyway? Do you know if they used rye or, more likely, bourbon?

    I’m so proud of Jeff and you and your newfound love for the cocktail…we’re gonna have a drink tonight in your honor!

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