Monday, April 27, 2015

Florence: Lunch at Trattoria Mario

After settling into the B&B that is Hotel Casci, I decided to look up a place to eat lunch. Every other meal we've had has been out of necessity. We get hungry, I get grumpy and food must be had immediately. Meals have been good, but not great.

I searched something like "Best Lunch in Florence" and found Trattoria Mario. The reviews were glowing and said things like, "A place for tourists and locals alike", "Share Tables but worth it". Inexpensive, simple, local food was what I was after, so around 2pm we walked 5 minutes and were there. I gave my name and was told the wait would be an hour. I said, "Yes!" without hesitation.

Kate and I walked around the corner to find outdoor and indoor markets. Perfect! So, we wandered and shopped for snacky foods (biscotti, strawberries, tomatoes on the vine, a loaf of crusty bread, slices of chocolate cake).

I love that this woman photobombed this shot
Back at the restaurant, waiting for my name to be called, I noticed that today's menu was hand written. Because it was nearly 3pm, items that sold out were marked thru.

The door opened and out came a man calling my name from this list. "Sarah. Sarah! SARAH!" I'd seen him do it before with someone else. You get three shout outs and if you don't answer, you're done. Your name gets crossed off and you miss out. At the first "Sarah" I said, "YES!" and raised my hand. I wasn't going to miss this. As he said my name twice more, I very nearly ran to him. He smiled, brought us inside and (in Italian) told me to walk through the packed room to the table with the couple at it and sit with them. Two empty seats are two empty seats. I was happy to share with others for a chance at some yummy local food.

I opted for something simple. Tagliatelle with Tomato Sauce (fresh tomatoes). Kate got Rigatoni with meat sauce. Both were amazing. Simple flavors, perfect home made pasta, delicious. I took the first bite and started laughing with glee. This was exactly what I thought Italy would deliver and was overjoyed that it did.

After lunch (as if that wasn't enough of a win for the day), I haggled over a cute cardigan (look for it in future pictures...I'll point it out), we found an ATM, cashed up and then right next to the ATM found a place to book a tour to Cinque Terre tomorrow (and spent our cash like it was on fire).

It is raining heavily now and I fear that tomorrow's trip to Cinque Terre will also be rain soaked, but we will have a great time regardless.

I have to say again that switching hotels/locations in Florence made all the difference. I am having a wonderful time and can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring.

Italy: that's better

Checked out of our decent, but not pleasant, hotel and into Hotel Casci. It. Is. Fantastic.

The location feels more central. It's leafier. The people on the street are smiling. The hotel is really a B&B. Reception feels clean, comfortable and homey. Paolo showed us two rooms before we decided to book. He speaks English quickly and clearly and is the friendliest person yet in Florence. There are books in the lobby and DVDs to borrow for free. The room is big and well set up. There is a charging station for all our devices, a fridge, desks, a wardrobe, a great big bathtub and windows that open into a (very small) courtyard (rather than a motorcycle parking lot like the last place).

I am so happy. Florence is going to be wonderful.

Italy: Florence

Got into Florence last night. Had a hard time finding the hotel. People on the streets were rude and just walked right into you without care or concern. The hotel ended up being decent enough but the beds might be tables; they're so hard. The staff here was rude (vacuuming loudly while trying to check in rather than turning it off for a minute). Went to dinner where our waiter was disinterested, slow, careless. The food was ok. Heard the sounds of dripping water from our neighbor's hotel room for hours. The TV is small and hard to figure out with two remotes and a sensor for one of the remotes hanging free off the tv.

Not to be crabby but so far I hate Florence and want to go anywhere else.

I'm going to get some breakfast and pray that it's just because we're close to the train station. I'm equating this to being dropped off in West Oakland rather than Lafayette (if that means anything to the Californians reading this). Inner City vs Leafy Beautiful Suburbia.

We're switching hotels today to a totally different area. Wish us luck.

To put a positive spin on this leg of the trip so far: Our hotel was only a block and a half from the train station on a quiet street. A nearby hotelier from "Hotel Club Hotel" gave us a free map and directions to it. The restaurant around the corner was clean and the Ravioli Tuscani was delicious. I slept hard and long and am about to go eat free breakfast.

Thinking positively! Let's go!