A quick flirtation with Florence

20130602_19295920130602_193314With nothing open on a Sunday in Calenzano (see previous post), I decided to jump on the bus to Florence.

I first came here as a student when I was 17 and I have strong memories of the city’s architectural beauty, especially the Duomo, Santa Maria del Fiore,  and its huge and intricately decorated facade.

20130602_19312720130602_193145Sadly nearly 30 years later the beautiful white marble, which once glowed, seems very grubby and unimpressive, no doubt the results of age and pollution since then (on both of us!).

Even the atmospheric Ponte Vecchio  over the river didn’t have the allure it once had for me.

20130602_194134Maybe I’m being too harsh (there are other sights and fantastic museums I know) but I much preferred Genoa and its lovely cathedral, San Lorenzo, having recently been there (see post).

20130602_195001By comparison, Florence feels completely overrun with tourists, who seemed to be mainly loud Americans. The waiters I spoke to were very surprised when I tried to communicate with them in Italian.

20130602_194332Having not expected to be here, I had done zero research on where to eat or what to do. The restaurant below was recommended by the friendly receptionist (as opposed to the one that’s an asshole) at the Hotel First in Calenzano.

It was his second choice after his family’s favourite (Perseus, 10 Viale Don Giovanni Minzoni (off Piazza della Liberta), Tel. 055 588 226), was unfortunately closed on a Sunday.

20130602_212757Convivium (Advanced B), 4 Via di Santo Spirito, Tel. 055 265 8198, www.conviviumfirenze.it

A high-end restaurant located in an old palazzo away from the hubbub, which doubles as a deli. They are better known for their wine than their food, although you can also do olive oil tasting classes here.

The atmosphere feels a little cramped (60 covers in 4 smallish rooms) but the décor is attractive and the service is friendly, if a little overworked at times.

Apologies but I lost my notes so can’t remember how much I liked all these dishes and wines by the glass.

20130602_201148First off, a complimentary spoon of the Tuscan dry soup Pappa al Pomodoro (B).

20130602_201659This was followed by Ravioli di Burrata con Gamberi Freschi Sgusciati Profumati al Lime aka ravioli stuffed with mozzarella cream, with freshly shelled prawns and a lime flavoured sauce. Sadly this didn’t do it for me, the stiff unyielding pasta, mediocre prawns and the smear of squid ink seriously detracted from the dish (C+).

20130602_200358I had this with a glass of very unusual tasting, but delicious Dorigo Friuliano (2010).

20130602_203343Pursuing my beef and mushroom fixations for the third night in a row, I had Tagliolini ai Porcini for my main, which was ok but unremarkable (B).

20130602_203625A glass of Castello della Paneretta Chianti Classico (2010) no doubt hit the spot with the beef.

20130602_211057Next a glass of Pinodise from Contadi Castaldi, a vino licoroso or dessert wine fortified with brandy. I think I remember this being pretty special (A) but sadly hard to procure in the UK even via the internet.

20130602_211136I had this with a dessert of three kinds of blue cheese with honey and hazlenuts, a winning combination (A).

Finally, a glass of Grappa Nonino Riserva which was a barrique (aged in barrels), no doubt an A.

In short, a flavoursome but pricey gastronomical experience. Rich tourists must love it. I enjoyed the wines but I’ll be eating elsewhere next time I’m here.

20130602_195024As with all my posts, please don’t take this as a serious guide to a city. I was only in Florence for about 8 hours so of course there’s plenty I’ve missed!

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