So, I hear somebody's going on a little Italian vacation this spring. You lucky dog, you. Kelly and I were there for our 10th wedding anniversary last June, and we just had a tremendous time. Even though I know you probably have your whole trip planned out already, I want to say that, if you happen to find yourselves in Florence at any point, you absolutely have to set aside a night and visit this really middle-of-the-road little trattoria I know.
Trust me on this one. It's the most uninspired restaurant in all of Florence. If you do nothing else in the entire city, you have to treat yourself to this completely adequate place.
What a find! It's just an incredibly predictable little trattoria, right in the middle of the noisiest, most touristy section of the city. It was actually the first place we went to in Florence, believe it or not: We just kind of stumbled across it about 12 feet from our hotel. But boy, were we glad we did! It was like stepping into a much, much less satisfying version of an excellent trattoria. In fact, we ended up having dinner there every night, because we were too scared to actually wander outside our comfort zone and explore all of the amazing stuff that ancient city had to offer.
See, if there's one problem with Florence, it's that it's slightly overrun with quaint eateries and culinary marvels, which is what makes this middling little trattoria such a treat. The building dates back to 2004, so it's got a nice modern feel to it, and it's ideal if you want to avoid all of the old-world charm that's lurking off the main drag. You can soak in the atmosphere with about a dozen other Americans and enjoy some truly pedestrian Italian fare in a highly manufactured and impersonal setting. It's quite magical, really.
And the food? Mamma mia, is it acceptable! Here's the best way I can describe the dining experience at this place: Have you ever been really hungry after walking around all day and just needed something heavy and starchy to fill your stomach with? And you honestly didn't even care that the food you were stuffing down your throat wasn't very good because you were starving and didn't want to go through the whole routine of finding a well- respected restaurant in a nice neighborhood? Well, it's just like that. Only it's in Florence!
Oh, and do yourself a favor and order the Diet Coke and spaghetti. One bite and you are transported back to every run-of-the-mill spaghetti dinner you've ever had in your life.
I am so jealous that you get to experience this restaurant for the first time! I'm telling you, it's the perfect place to sit back with a nice, crappy glass of overpriced red wine and just live life the way someone who doesn't know anything about Italy imagines Italians live it. And just wait until you meet the owner, Angelo. What a nondescript character! Be sure to tell him I sent you. He will have no idea who I am.
I won't tell you a whole lot more, because I don't want to ruin this place's total lack of mystery, but let me just say this: If you want to have the most romantic day of your entire life, you can't do much better than browsing the shopping centers and trinket stores of Florence, heading back to the hotel for a nap and some TV, catching the half-off linguini-and- lobster-sauce special at this barely passable little trattoria I know, watching a street performer for a few minutes with 30 other tourists, and then heading back to the hotel for some more TV and a 10 p.m. bedtime.
Ah, Florence! I wish I were there all over again.