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Report 1905: Firenze, Cinque Terre, and Tuscany Hill Towns

By ktp from California, USA, Spring 2011

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Page 2 of 5: Firenze - Four Nights

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Vespas in Chianti

The party started early as we arrived at LAX four hours before our flight. This is not a problem if you have access to the Air France VIP Lounge, where we drank champagne and ate brie with two British paratroopers. Flying business class made the journey part of the vacation as well. Thank you air miles!

Firenze was the first stop, staying at the well-located, roomy Albergo Merlini among the “cheap” hotels on Via Faenza. Near the train station but quiet and within walking distance to all sights. Our first meal was at Antichi Cancelli, also on Via Faenza, where you both can have a primi, secondi, and wine and get out of there just under €40. My husband said the lamb was particularly good. It was my first taste of the bread and vegetable based twice-boiled soup ribollita. I think I ate it five times on our trip.

Our first full day included the Uffizi – the only tickets we pre-booked saving us hours in line - and climbing Brunelleschi’s dome, slightly curving inward as you squeezed between the two shells.

Our second day was a highlight, zipping through Chianti on Vespas. The van took seven of us 30 minutes outside of the city, oriented us to the scooters, and off we went. Mixing it up with traffic, hills, gravel, and stopping along the way for fresh pecorino panini, gelato, and a stop at the Corsini Winery, where we toured the wine cellars and olive oil operation, had a wonderful wine tasting and lunch, and even saw the princess! A fun stop was the hotel where Machiavelli stayed while in exile. We would do it again in a heartbeat.

The next day brought us to the Pitti Palace’s Palatine Gallery, royal apartments and the Boboli Gardens. For some reason, many museums were free that week, so Italians were out in force enjoying the gardens. We fell asleep for an hour with about 40 others on a sun-dappled lawn.

Favorite Florence restaurants included Le Mossace (ribolitta) and Il Due Fratellini (we ate at this fiaschetteria at least three times, grab a panini and glass of Super Tuscan and sit on the curb near Orsanmichele). A lavish meal accompanied by excellent wines was enjoyed at Pitti Gola, where Zeno, one of the owners, should really have his own TV show. They travel all over Italy, buying up whatever the small winemakers don’t keep for themselves, making many of their wines exclusives. Rinaldi Brunello was a highlight. The pumpkin gnudi was unlike anything I’ve eaten before. Ricotta, pumpkin, and an egg made into fluffy little balls with a sauce chock full of truffles.

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