Life in Italy has it challenges. It can take four days, two people, multiple phone calls and office visits to pay an internet bill. True story. But for the most part, life in Italy is pretty great. Rome really is extraordinarily beautiful. The food really is pretty fresh and delicious. I really do meet friends in the piazza for coffee or a negroni, depending on the time of day. Another great thing about life in Italy. Trenitalia. Really.
When I first moved to Rome, booking a train ticket with Trenitalia was complicated, expensive and almost impossible to do online. All of that has changed. Now I can book a fast train to Venice or Naples or Florence from my trusty little Air, pay with PayPal and have my ticket SMS'd directly to my phone. If I plan ahead, the tickets can be really inexpensive. I once booked three round trip seats to Naples for a little more than €100. Paying internet bills aside, much more about life in Italy is decidedly modern. So last week when my pal Saskia asked if I wanted to meet her and Georgette for lunch in Florence, I said yes, got online and booked myself a seat on the Frecciarossa heading north. Follow this schedule and you too can spend a day eating and drinking in modern Florence.
10:00 am Coffee at Ditta Artiginale
Via dei Neri, 32R
I started my day in Florence with a quick walk past the Jeff Koons installation in the Piazza Signoria on my way to meet a pal at the Third Wave coffee spot Ditta Artiginale. We ordered single estate pour overs and big cappuccinos and caught up while we waited for the rain shower to pass.
12:30 pm Proseco O'Clock at the Mercato Centrale
Piazza del Mercato Centrale
I headed back across town towards San Lorenzo, (Florence is so much smaller than Rome!) to meet Saskia on the top floor of the Mercato Centrale for a pre-lunch flute of Prosecco.
Georgette had organized lunch at this large and welcoming spot literally across from the train station. We were shown our table downstairs in a cozy corner. Wine was ordered, and a plate of bread with sweet butter and a tin of salty anchovies appeared while we perused the menu and shared tales from our recent trip to the Aeolian Islands. I took Georgette's advice and had the fish and chips, Georgette had the "business lunch" which included a portion of spinach pasta and a skewer of octopus and squid threaded with cherry tomatoes. Saskia's starter was the real stand out, perfectly fried calamari, flash fried arugula on a bed of smooth chick pea puree.
4:00 Juice + Cocktails at La Menagere
via dei Ginori 8r
Georgette had a wedding dress fitting so we said our goodbyes in front of the newly restored Baptistry. (it's stunning and worth a trip of it's very own to visit the new Opera del Duomo) and I followed Saskia's expert lead to the very hip concept store La Menagerie. This vast space is part old fashioned Italian bar, part flower shop, part housewares store, part hipster cocktail bar. It was not quite the polite hour for a cocktail so we started with a fresh pressed juice and a pomegranate tea. Before we knew it, candles were being lit and architectural flowers placed on our table, a sign that it was time to order a cocktail. We both chose an Aviation and watched the show at the bar while the bearded, suspended, barkeep shook and stirred our fancy gin drinks.
7:00 Time to Head Back to Rome
Back on the train and home in Rome just in time for dinner and a Daily Show.