Rapt attention

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Firenze shuffle

We finished our spa session at the lovely Ville sull'Arno and went upstairs and visited the outdoor pool. A brutish looking couple lay on the chase lounges across from us, my guess is that they were Eastern European. He was barrel chested and smoking nasty cigars, she was slightly overripe and had a rather vicious smile which quickly morphed into a glance of sneering upper class contempt.

We ignored them, ordered vodka and blood orange juice, got vodka and orange juice. No big. Our drinks were accompanied by nice large bowls of cerignola olives and nuts. So pleasant to chill, away from the noise and chatter of the bustling city and allow ourselves to be pampered, if only for a day.

Dark clouds were rolling in from the north and we thought that rain would soon follow, our picnic was officially over, retiring back to our rooms as a matter of prudent caution.

The plan was to meet our friends Alyssa and David at a nice restaurant that evening.

We took a shuttle into town and walked around a bit, finally making our way to the jewelry shops on the Ponte Vecchio, where they were finishing up some business transactions with a local jeweler of note, Giovanni Melli.

He had an opal necklace that I was crazy for but that is another story, still unfinished.

Giovanni not only had beautiful material, the view from his shop window might just be the best in the world.

As is usually the case with Jews and Italians, who have always been pretty much culturally joined at the hip, the conversation soon came around to food.

He told us that we had to try the place around the corner, Cammillo. Best in show.

We wandered our way through the Otrarno and found the place on the end of the next block.

The staff was all sitting around eating dinner. They were absolutely booked but would seat us in the attic if we were so inclined. We were.

Dinner was still an hour away so we wandered about the block.

Florence is such a delight, we found a very special mask shop and beautiful clothing stores, shops for fine leather goods, even a chocolate shop that poured the luscious stuff straight out of a tap.

Glorious statues abound, a wonderful place to share with someone you love.

And a fantastic walking city, we certainly covered a lot of ground.

We made our way to Cammillo Trattoria at the appointed hour. The staff and matriarch were kind and helpful. An extensive menu, we started with appetizers of goose foie gras and a burrata anchovy pairing and considered our choices for the meal.

My pasta course was the fresh tagliatelle with pigeon sauce. My entree was char broiled lamb and rosemary. Hadn't eaten lamb all trip and I was due.

Leslie had a pasta dish with white truffle. Alyssa had a deep fried lamb and not quite sure what David ate. All very delicious. They drank champagne, I drank water.

Place was superb, as advertised. We finished the meal with a fresh grape tart.

The Italians do so many things so well in the kitchen. One area where they seem to fall short is bread.

It is not France, nor even San Francisco. Bread is an afterthought in Italy. The dinner rolls are really pretty tasteless and pathetic. No crust.

My friend Ken told me about a co-pilot of his who took umbrage because the country doesn't believe in bread plates (or butter for that matter), you put your bread on the table.

But heck, you can't be good at everything and they have pasta down in spades so we will give them a break. I pretty much ate everything on my food bucket list for Italy except a tripe sandwich. Next time. Oh and by the way, pigeon is quite good.

We walked to the Pitti Palace after the meal and then way back to near the Academie to our friends' hotel. A nice stroll on a cool autumn night.

My friends were happy and high from the meal and the alcohol. I was not drinking and dry to their wet, sort of an asshole to be honest, but tried my best to be civil, needed my own space at that moment. Oh well. You know how I get...

And what better place to engage in a little indulgent self pity than the Pitti Palace? A Pitti pity party?

My friend Tracy told me yesterday that she would have picked Venice as would Mike. She is a violinist and said that she understands our decision as I am visually oriented but Venice is about music. I hope to visit one day and compare.

There is certainly a tremendous amount of art in Florence, the epicenter of the renaissance. Some tire of it. I only regret not having more time and not seeing more.

I really wasn't feeling very well and there were no cabs around. The man at our friend's hotel called us a cab.

What happened next was amazing, like a winged fantasy from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the Merry Pranksters or Mary Poppins.

A psychedelic cab appeared instantly from the clouds, Milano 25, full of toys and stuffed animals.

Bellandi photo

We got the whole story. After losing her husband to cancer fifteen years ago, the magical cab driver started a free ferry service for children with cancer. As a cancer survivor, I was touched by her story. One of the greatest cab rides in my life, simply a beautiful person. Changed my bad attitude in a jumping jackflash.



somegeek said...

Wish you left the EXIF data attached. :) Great pics... was curious what settings you used.

Blue Heron said...

Thank you somegeek. The removal of exif data is beyond my control, an idiosyncrasy of the Google blogging platform. Let me know if you have a question about a particular shot.

Helen Killeen Bauch McHargue said...

Great travel reporting. Makes me want to pack up and get to Italy again! Face it...you're really good at this!!