One of the most fashionable times to be out in Italy is early evening, between 500p - 800p. While we reserve this time in the US for dinner, the Italians reserve this time for la passegiata (the walk). Of course, dinner follows after you have worked up an appetite, perhaps ran into friends, and settled into a cozy neighborhood trattoria for a lengthy meal (700p - 1000p).
Last night we enjoyed "the walk" down Via del Corso before landing in Piazza Republicca. The street was packed with families, couples and teens (ragazzi) enjoying the shopping, the flair (Christmas lights strung across the streets), the air (roasting chestnuts), and people watching. Of course, everyone was decked out in fashionable clothing (including babies too!) - it was quite a scene.
Upon landing in Piazza Repubblica we were unexpectedly greeted by an Artiginal Festa d' Agricola (Artisan Festival of Agriculture) - which means local farms bringing out fresh, organic cheeses, wines, salami, honeys and, of course, just pressed olive oils. To everyone on the street - this also means free, tasty morsels of food and drink. We made our rounds through the festival, under the stars and amidst all the Italians, sampling and enjoying the local fare.
All the samples and smells from the festival jump-started our appetites, so we made our way to the restaurant we had selected during our walk on Friday in the Oltr' Arno - Cinghiale Bianco (the White Boar). From, Piazza Repubblica, we walked down Via Santa Maria, over Ponte Vecchio (stopping to enjoy to nighttime view on the bridge and gawk at all the jewelry) and then down Borgo San Giacopo. Cinghiale Bianco is a prototypical Italian trattoria with traditional Tuscan furnishings and ambiance on a tucked away neighborhood street. The owners greeted us warmly and seated us immediately.
Naturally, dinner started with a bottle of wine (a Ruffino Chianti Classico - Sante Dame), complemented by bread and freshly pressed olive oil. At our request, the owners did not hesitate to bring out additional wine glasses for our teenage boys (who should, of course, sample good wine too - this is Italy!). For our meal, we opted for house specialities: Vitello Ossobuco (veal shank), Bacalla alla Livornese (cod fish baked in tomato sauce with white beans), Tagliatelle Cinghiale (pasta with wild boar sauce), and Entrecote (beef steak in chianti wine sauce). The food was excellent, the wine a perfect complement, and the venue and warm service made it a memorable experience.
Following dinner, we walked home slowly, soaking up the sights and sounds of Italy. We were thinking about gelato, but the boys opted for fresh waffles with Nutella, which they enjoyed en route back to our apartment. Perfect!
Altogether, the evening was splendid. Most importantly, I enjoyed the slow pace, conversations and opportunity to enjoy time together as a family in this magical city - Florence.