Friday, January 9, 2009

Florence Day 1 (2 Jan 09): Ponte Vecchio and Pork Lard

It's amazing how cities can still surprise you, and despite globalization and further homogenization, some places still keep their identity and character. In Rome, Venice and Florence, the identities jump out at you and keep you enthralled. 

Rome was grand and truly eternal. Venice was lovely and whimsical. Florence, quite differently, gives the impression of being the hard-working cousin, constantly creating and inventing. 

We arrived there in the afternoon and we spent the last few hours of daylight trying to get used to Florence's charming streets. We eventually found our way to where the teeming mass of tourists converged, the Ponte Vecchio:

We walked by the River Arno and crossed into the west bank. Here's a night view of the Ponte Vecchio and the River Arno:

As you may have noticed, L and I made eating good meals a large part of our trip, and I think Florence, to our surprise, became the highlight of good eating. Rome was all about innards and tails and other weird body parts (loved it!), Venice was all about seafood (loved it more!) and Florentine/Tuscan cooking was all about roasted meats (winner!). 

We had dinner at a homey trattoria called Gusta Panino, where the gentleman who owned the place gave us all their greatest hits (which were not at all the most expensive things on the menu). To immortalize this properly, here is a picture of their menu:

We had Tavolozza di Salumi Misti e Pecorino (Mixed Salami Patter with Pecorino Cheese) and Bruschetta con Lardo di Colonnata (Bruschetta with Pork Lard - Divine! it tastes exactly the opposite of how it sounds):

Ribollita alla Fiorentina (a winter soup with white beans and bread - it was a bit sour, which made it very tasty):

and Tortelloni Funghi e Crema Tartufata (Tortelloni with Mushrooms and Truffle Sauce):

Tuscan wine is well-known, and understandably L and I had two types of Chiantis (yes, that's two bottles for two people. Heh.). The first bottle was a divine Lorini Chianti:

and the second bottle was a Chianti San Felice (a little more robust than the Lorini):

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