la primavera fiorentina

as spring nears, and with it, spring break, i've been getting more and more requests from people who read my posts over at the food section for some recommendations on where to go and what to eat in florence. so, in lieu of responding to each of them one by one, i am going to make a list, or series of lists, depending on how ambitious i get with this project, and post it here. please check back, because i'll update as i go along. also, if all you really want to know about is food, then please, please go buy emily wise miller's book, the food lover's guide to florence, because it is, quite simply, the most well-researched, up to date, all-encompassing book on the food in florence. and well-written, too. it's completely worth it.

trattoria zibibbo
via di terzollina, 3/R
50129 firenze
tel. 055 433 383

take the 14c bus from the center to the last stop at the piazetta di careggi. walk up the hill 35 steps and you'll see zibibbo on the right. i spent nearly two years here, and in my humble opinion, benedetta vitali serves the best food in tuscany. her ragu', pigeons, squid ragu' and arancini are unbeatable. in fact, the arancini may be the best thing i have ever eaten, period. the food might not be cheap, but it's worth every penny.

benedetta was the heart and soul of florence's famed cibreo, which she started with her then-husband fabio picchi. now, zibibbo is all soul. the tuscans come from near and far to taste her mashed potatoes. i also love the red wooden floors and the wall of photos. you can also take cooking courses, for a day, weekend or week, from benedetta and her staff. the kitchen may be tiny, but you'd be amazed to see how much goes on in there. don't get frustrated if the website is not up to date or if she doesn't email you back. just call her and be persistent and you'll get through to the real, warm benedetta. she's warm, inviting, gentle and kind.

ristorante da delfina
59015 artimino (firenze)
via della chiesa, 1
tel. 055 87 18 074

a rustic hunting lodge/restaurant in artimino, outside florence, with handmade pastas, beautiful spit-roasted and grilled meats, and perhaps the world's best ribollita. delfina is the owner carlo cione's mother, 90-some odd years old and still thriving. sunday lunch is especially nice. closed sunday for dinner and monday. from florence, take the slow train to signa and take a taxi from the station to artimino. don't bother with driving--you'll get lost. if you don't speak italian, ask for primo as your waiter. he's wonderful, and ask how his baby boy is doing.

dario cecchini
via xx luglio, 11r
panzano in chianti

dario is the closest thing i have to family in italy. he is one of the most special people i've ever met, and honestly, i don't think that everyone can appreciate him for what he really is. he is one of the most generous, honorable, and sensitive people i have ever known, but at the same time humorous, well-read, and knowledgable. now, read those last two sentences again, knowing that dario is a butcher. enough has been said about him in articles, so just google him and you'll find out pretty much everything you need to know about dario.

tenuta di capezzana
via capezzana, 100
59015 carmignano
055 870 6005

capezzana oil is, in my opinion, the finest olive oil in all the land. you can arrange a visit, to see the winery, the olive oil press, and the vin santo room. oh, the amazing vin santo room. if capezzana isn't actually open to the public, faith and jennifer set up courses in the castello a few times a year. i went there once when they were making pizza in the lovely wood-burning oven behind the kitchen, right at the time of the olive harvest.

trattoria marione
50123 firenze
via della spada, 27/r
tel. 055 214 756
closed sunday

apparently, there was an article on some florence eateries in the new york times several years ago, and marione was the most affordable. so, it's been slammed ever since by american tourists. but, it's still decent. the ribollita is pretty good. a friend lives next door, so she's a regular there. it's one of the least chintzy places to eat in the center of florence, which, i think, is saying a lot. and, you won't get ripped off.

all'ancora secca
via di ginori, 21/r
50123 firenze
tel. 055 216 423

ancora secca is the only place i've found that still marbles its own paper, binds its own books, dyes its own leather, and makes things to order. i have the most lovely orange leather photo album i had them make for me. and another marbled one i spied every time i walked past the store for nearly a year, and then just broke down and bought. its actually pretty affordable, considering the work that goes into each journal and album. this is, hands down, the finest paper store in florence.

ottica foto mb
via ghibellina, 131/r
tel. 055 219 380

if you need some film or batteries for your digital camera, or if you want to get some photos developed (from film--i'm not sure if they develop digipics), this is the place to go. definitely, foto mb is the best photo developing service in the center. they do both glossy and matte, and they have those cute white borders everyone seems to want on their pictures. photos usually take two days, which isn't bad, considering you're in italy.

bar hemingway
piazza piattellina 9/r
50124 firenze
055 284 781

bar hemingway is a chocolate lover's dream. the hot chocolate with peperoncino is amazing. the place is cute, and trendy, a little san francisco, a little paris. with lounge chairs and couches. the regulars can get a little pushy, though, so stand your ground. it's a night spot, and doesn't really come alive until 11 or midnight, so if you want to miss the crowds, go early.

caffe coquinarius
via delle oche, 15/r
50122 firenze
tel. 055 230 2153
closed sunday

this little enoteca has the most delicious pear and cheese tortelli i've ever had the pleasure of tasting. the sad truth is that they don't make them in house, but who cares, when they're this good. it's a good place to grab something to eat in the awkward siesta hours when everything else is closed.

la dantesca
via panzani, 4

i used to live just upstairs of this pizzeria, and it was months before i realized that they have a wood burning oven. it looks pretty touristy, and in all truth, it pretty much is, but you just can't beat a delicious wood-fired pizza, ready in about five minutes, for about five euros--tourists or not.

caffe italiano (da enzo)
via isola delle stinche, 11-13/r
50122 firenze
tel. 055 289 368
via della condotta, 32/r
055 214 966
quelle tre
officina profumo--farmaceutica di santa maria novella
via della scala, 16
055 288 657
gilda bistrot
piazza lorenzo ghiberti, 40-41/r
tel. 055 234 3885