Florence, Italy – the jewel in Tuscany’s crown (part 1)

A very big hello to all my lovely followers. I have an apology to make for being absent so long. Life has been busy and a couple of important personal projects have been swallowing up all my time.

A real shame as I haven’t yet had a chance to share my trip to England over the Christmas and New Year period. My husband and I also managed to fit in a short escape to Italy – definitely the highlight. So instead of ‘leaving the best for last’ I thought I’d start with the best.

Florence.

What a city! Like no other, but then most Italian cities could claim the same. On arrival at Florence airport we lucked out on a driver who loved to talk, especially about his beautiful city. He took a slight detour on the way to our hotel so he could make a stop by the river and show us Florence in all its glory. Even on an overcast and rainy day it was a beautiful thing to behold.

P1010260P1010245Despite the rain the day only got better when our taxi driver finally pulled up outside our hotel. The plan had originally been to stay at the Savoy. A small – or not so small – treat. But the Savoy was closed for renovations and arranged for us to stay at Hotel Lungarno. A fabulous hotel right on the river with views to die for – including the famous Ponte Vecchio.P1010238Perhaps in an effort to replicate the cost of our Savoy booking the Lungarno deposited us in a suite. It felt more like an apartment – and a luxurious one at that. Three nights in Florentine luxury – I was happy. Check it out . . .

 

Our first night in Florence. Time to talk food. I decided to engage the services of our hotel’s excellent Concierge and asked for a recommendation for dinner – somewhere close by given that it was still pouring with rain and somewhere we could eat authentic Italian.

Trattoria Mamma Gina was the place and just the ticket. The restaurant was busy with several Italian families enjoying a meal out – always a good sign. I had one of the specials – pasta with artichokes. Really, it was that simple but so delicious. My husband and I shared a plate of profiteroles for dessert. I don’t think any more needs to be said.

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You can find Mamma Gina’s at Bg. S. Jacopo, 37/R. It’s situated in an ancient 14th century palace – this all helps to make it utterly perfect.

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The next morning we were rearing to go for our first full day in Florence. Another tip from our driver was not to miss Palazzo Pitti. Perhaps with a lesser profile it can often be missed in favour of the famous Uffizi or Accademia. But let me tell you it is well worth making time for this one.

The palace has a rich history that involves various owners and residents, however it still bears the name of its original owner – Luca Pitti, a Florentine banker. I can’t tell you how much we loved our visit to this palace. Quite possibly the highlight of the entire trip (perhaps the food being the only exception). I won’t say much more – just look . . .

Make sure you also grab a ticket to see the gardens. Stunning along with some fabulous views.

That afternoon we walked. Florence is one of those cities where you can just walk – for hours – but the cold eventually had us seeking the warmth and comfort of our apartment. Especially as we were planning another excursion that evening.

After the success of the previous evening I again sought the excellent advice of our Concierge and informed them that this evening my husband and I felt like a steak. My request was greeted with much approval – after all, Florence is home to the famous Bistecca alla Fiorentina. Our concierge made a booking for us at I’ Parione, a trattoria on the other side of the river but within easy walking distance. Fortunately it was a fine night and so we set off wrapped up in coats and scarves and gloves and braved the chill of the late December evening.

On arrival at the restaurant we were shown down a set of stairs (rather a steep set of stairs I might add). It had the feeling of descending into a dungeon and I suppose it was a dungeon of sorts. Below stairs where the restaurant kept an impressive collection of wine were a few tables at which patrons ate by candlelight. It was incredibly atmospheric and set the scene for what we were sure was going to be a great evening.

IMG_2980We were not disappointed. Our waiter was attentive and well versed on the menu and the wine list. My husband did order steak although not the Bistecca. And although I had been primed for ordering a steak, as soon as I saw Osso Bucco on the menu there was no other choice. Veal shanks cooked long and slow, it is one of my favourite Italian dishes and one which is extra special when eaten in Italy. Simply because they do it so well.

I cannot recommend this restaurant enough. I’Parione – and ask for a table downstairs if you want an eating experience with a difference.

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Stay tuned next week for part 2 of my awesome adventure to Florence.

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8 Comments

  1. Laura says:

    Great to see you back posting Tracey – and bringing back for me many memories of lovely Florence. I’ll never forget a hole in the wall mini restaurant we dined at where the mother, father and son cooked a simple nightly meal for around 10 people – it was odd but amazing – down one of those magical laneways. Look forwards to part 2!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Laura. Good to be back! It’s such a great thing to have eating experiences like that – they’re so memorable. And those laneways really are magical. Especially with all the Christmas lights. I actually loved being there in the winter time.

      Like

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