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open mind, empty stomach

travel, food, and fun

Just as in Rome, this time around I only spent two nights and one day in Florence. My stay was very brief, but I couldn’t return to Italy without visiting my (former) favorite city. The last time I came to Florence it was November and I spent an incredible week there. I went to most of the major tourist attractions: the duomo, the Uffizi, Academia, piazza de Michelangelo, ponte vecchio, and a few others. I had great food, met awesome people, and was overwhelmed by Florence’s charm.
In August, the city’s charm is drowned beneath a sea of tourists. It was worse than Rome. It was also more difficult to find an open restaurant from my Slow Food guide. There was only ONE restaurant from the book that was open. That restaurant, Hosteria del Bricco, was the only bad meal I have ever had from a restaurant out of the book. In fact, it was the only non-great meal I have ever had from the book. The spaghetti with wild boar sausage was fine. The spaghetti was a little too thin and cooked too long for my liking, but it wasn’t bad. Whenever I see roast suckling pig on a menu, I have to order it. It’s not even an option. Their version of one of my favorite dishes in the universe was beyond pathetic. The meat wasn’t dry, but it was far from moist. Quite a bit of chewing was required to take down an animal that tends to be tender, but even that I could deal with. These sick bastards committed the cardinal sin: they didn’t even attempt to make the skin crispy. My favorite part of roast suckling pig is the crispy, crunchy, and at times glass-like skin. The skin of this little piggy was rubbery, chewy, and tragic. To their credit, the beans served with the pork were very nice. They were cooked in juices from the swine and were full of pig fattyness.
I bypassed the tourist attractions, since I had done them all previously. Instead, I took a long walk around the city and searched for a restaurant that looked decent. I had become so dependent on the bible (my Slow Food guide) and Bourdain’s recommendations that it was difficult looking on my own. I spotted a place far from the center of town that was full of locals and gave it a shot. Trattoria I’Brindellone was phenomenal. I started with taglierini al tartufo and had trippa alla florentine for my second. They made it rain truffles on the pasta and it was sooo good. The tripe was the best I’ve ever had. It was fork tender and beautifully flavored. This would be the perfect gateway tripe for those who are wary of eating pig intestines. After finishing my meal along with my standard half liter of house wine, I contemplated returning to Hosteria del Bricco, taking their Slow Food sticker, and giving it to I’Brindellone.
Florence is also home to my favorite gelato place in the world. Santa Trinita is located one bridge west of ponte vecchio on the south side of the river. Words cannot express what their dark chocolate gelato does to me and I’m not even a big fan of sweets. I went three times in a day and a half.
While this brief stint in Florence was nowhere near as spectacular as the first time, it was still pleasant. Unfortunately for the city, Bologna took over my #1 spot in Italy. Bologna is a much more livable city, while Florence transforms into a Disney like theme park for at least part of the year. There are just way too many tourists and far too few restaurant options for my liking in Florence in August. Florence is still an amazing city, just do yourself a favor and don’t visit in the summertime.

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