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We’re looking ahead to Spring – Aix en Provence for the Easter Festival.

Thursday, 2 January 2015
Florence, Italy

On the road again – back to Florence, where we dropped the car, checked into welcoming Hotel Rivoli once again, then headed out for lunch. After checking out the offerings at the Mercato Centrale, we suggested an old favorite nearby, Da Mario. At slightly before noon we should be able to get in line for a table. Unlike on previous visits, though, they’re already open and going strong, every table filled. Recognizing us, the waiter asked if we’d mind sitting downstairs. Downstairs? Didn’t even know they served downstairs! 01031501 da marioWell, since demand has only gotten stronger for Mario’s simple but delicious Cucina Povera (poor folk’s cooking – the essence of Tuscan cuisine) they’ve cleared out space in the basement storage area for a few tables. So here we are, among the hams and wine, enjoying a great lunch.
After our tastings at Conti in the Mercato at the beginning of the tour, we all had a list of items to purchase now that we’re ready to pack our bags for returning home. Stefano’s smile will go with us until we come back – he makes shopping such a pleasure!01031501 back to conti before packing casesAnd one more before-packing stop, the ever- glorious Farmacia Santa Maria Novella, where Lorri stocks up on fragrant gifts for her lucky friends and family. 01031501 back to smn before packingLorri and I stayed at the hotel, packing up for our departures tomorrow, and the gents went exploring, Kirk sharing tales of Florence as they walked. They found what Kirk described as a “men’s Santa Maria Novella”  – but came home without any treasures of their own. 01031501 du guys exploreWith enough packing done, we sought out some more Florentine favorites to share, such as Ghirlandaio’s intimate Nativity, in a side chapel of Santa Trinita.01031501 ghirlandaioOutside, the streets glow in the evening light, making it hard to say goodbye to this beautiful city.01031501 evening stroll and ghirlandaioOne more delicious meal, which we began with an unusual appetizer, artichokes draped in lardo. 01031501 dinner artichokes with lardoYes, that’s lard, but not like any lard you’ll taste in the States. Delicate and tasting of superior bacon, every bite was superb. And of course we included everyone’s favorite 4 Leoni pasta, “purses” filled with pear blanketed in creamy taleggio, walnut and asparagus sauce.01031501 dinner everyones fave at 4 leoni

None of the desserts tempted us that much, so we stopped for gelato, 01031501 gelato for dessertand finished up with a Ponte Vecchio photo-op.01031501 on ponte v It’s been a pleasure to share this jazzy, tasty and beautiful week with Russ and Lorri. Ciao til next time, Italia.