We’ve just returned from ten days in Florence where each day was better than the last. We visited all of our favourite haunts: Donatello’s David at the Bargello, Mary Magdalene at the Museo dell Opera, Gozzoli’s frescoes, the Central Market, Gilli for prosecco and cappuccino, the list goes on and on. We went for lunch at Il Cavaliere, a fourteenth-century castle thirty minutes south of Florence near Mercatale. The castle has been converted into a grand hotel with views of vineyards, olive groves and newly awakening wisteria vines tumbling over stone walls.
We watched the Easter Sunday exploding cart ceremony at the Duomo from the terrace of our former apartment at Via Roma 3. We attended vespers at San Minato al Monte and spoke with Nicholas, one of the Benedictine monks we met while living there.
We enjoyed revisiting some former favorite restaurants but noticed that some of them have become too touristy: Osteria Belle Donne, for example. In its place, we recommend Pepo on Via Rossina, near the central market, for perfectly cooked pasta at lunch. Ristorante Leo, near Santa Croce, still serves the best ravioli and sea bass. Another new name, so hot it’s on no lists, is Pantarei, near Piazza Liberta but it’s a 10-minute cab ride away from the central historic area.
Most of all, we enjoyed seeing old friends again. One magical morning as we walked along the Arno to Piazza Santo Spirito to meet Kerima Arnautovic of Luisa Via Roma, we spotted Paolo Bruscoli, our book-binding friend, in his skiff on the river. Next minute, around the corner on his bicycle came Peter Porcal, resident art historian and another good friend. Only in Florence is such serendipity possible!