Al Tranvai: history and tradition of a trattoria in San Frediano

Al Tranvai: history and tradition of a trattoria in San Frediano

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We find ourselves in San Frediano, one of the most popular Florentine quartieri; set of Vasco Pratolini’s novels and where supposedly the “locals” live. Through Torquato Tasso Square, one accesses this traditional district. A stroll along its charming narrow streets is especially pleasant: numerous shops and craft workshops encourage the area commercial activity. Al Tranvai is a very narrow tavern. Here you feel like having lunch in a tram wagon — hence its name. Regarding the room, you usually eat side by side with the diner next to you, as in the old Florentine trattorie. The menu is made up of Tuscan dishes: pappa al pomodoro, ribollita or panzanella. Among the first courses stand out the tagliatelli or gnocchi served with pesto. The authentic restaurant’ specialty are, however, the second courses: Florentine tripe, lampredotto, cacciucco, di lesso salad, meatballs fried or in sauce, and francesina. Served as an accompaniment are mixed salads, ceci bolliti, fagioli all’uccelletto and homemade potatoes. For dessert, they propose various types of pie: apple, figs and walnuts or pear. Finally, to enjoy the food, it is recommended to choose a good wine, although the list is short, Al Tranvai offers some appealing suggestions.
Al Tranvai – Piazza Torcuato Tasso 14r 50124 Florence

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Trattoria Coco Lezzone: bistecca alla fiorentina for celebrities in Florence

Trattoria Coco Lezzone: bistecca alla fiorentina for celebrities in Florence

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The best way to discover authentic places is to get carried away by Florence’s vicoli, wandering around one finds the best chances merely turning in the next corner. This is what happened with the Trattoria Coco Lezzone and with most of the places featured on this blog. Toni has been working in this family run restaurant for ten years. “David Rockefeller was here in 2014 – He was 99 year old at that time. He ordered pasta with white truffle and bistecca alla fiorentina. He ate a lot! Likewise Prince Charles of England was here, in 1986, invited by the marquises of Frescobaldi, the restaurant was closed for them and all their retinue,” says Toni. The photos hanging on the walls show these and other celebrities. “Every time Pavarotti visited Florence, he came to the trattoria and had bistecca alla fiorentina,” which by the way is prepared in a centuries-old wood-fired oven. “Queen Beatriz of Holland ate pasta with white truffle and tiramisu. According to her, it was one of the best she had ever tasted.” Serving diners since 1800, this restaurant also follows the tradition of Tuscan cuisine, consisting in preparing typical Florentine dishes with fresh seasonal products. Lampredotto, bollito con salsa verde, spezzatino con verza, coniglio alla cacciatoria
Trattoria Coco Lezzone – Via del Parioncino 26R

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Florence from above at Se·sto: exclusive ‘aperitivo’ with a view

Florence from above at Se·sto: exclusive ‘aperitivo’ with a view

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As E. M. Forster famous novel A Room With A View, the Se·sto restaurant and bar unique location on the rooftop floor at the luxury hotel The Westin Excelsior in Florence provides a scenic view over the Arno River to the whole city and the surrounding hills. In the kitchen, Chef Matteo Lorenzini has created a menu based on innovative Italian cuisine with an international touch. The proposals for lunch or dinner are Mediterranean dishes made with fresh seasonal products accompanied by a great variety of wines. Se·sto also offers a wide range of cocktails served on the terrace, where you can also enjoy an exclusive Italian aperitivo while looking at the sunset. The selection of music ranges from nu jazz to lounge emphasizing the outstanding ambiance.
Se·sto, The Westin Excelsior, Piazza Ognissanti 171, daily aperitif from 7 to 9 p.m. (€ 21). Walk-in policy, reservations not accepted

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La Cité: books, music, coffee and wine in the heart of San Frediano

La Cité: books, music, coffee and wine in the heart of San Frediano

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Books, art, wine and music. La Cité is defined as a polyvalent cultural space, responding to demands for the eclectic interacting of today. Since 2007, this two-storey café-bookshop of Borgo San Frediano (Oltrarno, Florence) has become a small cultural island, a city within the city itself. La Cité is just the antithesis of the classic bookstore-supermarket franchise and is described as a place of research and meeting, as well as a reading room, where cultural diversity and languages ​​are mixed. Their selection of texts is preferably of critical, independent and creative publications. Over the 5000 titles included in its catalogue one can find new and used books, newspapers and editorial oddities. Before sale browsing and reading books is allowed. In addition, each week, book presentations are organized with the presence of authors, critics, musicians and artists, as well as public debates on current affairs. Ideal spot for blind dates, too.
La Cité – Borgo San Frediano 20R, Florence. Open every day, from 9 to 2 a.m. On Sunday it opens at 3 p.m. – WIFI connection

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Arty cocktails at Antico Caffè del Moro in Florence

Arty cocktails at Antico Caffè del Moro in Florence

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Some venues of Florence became my favourites thanks to dating local guys. The Art Bar – Caffè degli Artisti – Antico Caffè del Moro is one of them. I believe locals are always the key to entering everyday life, anywhere. And, although those dates rarely succeeded, fortunately the places still endure. Despite usually crowded, it´s worth a visit just at Antico´s happy hour (6-9 p.m.), with fruit cocktails at 7 euros (10 euros after 9 p.m.). Customers range from American college students with their last generation iPhones, to gentlemen from the neighbourhood and residents in their early forties. Founded in 1926, it consists of a small room with ten round tables with candles, and the service (especially the girls) is charming. The buts? Cocktails sometimes look like fruit salads and the preparation of drinks takes its time.
Via del Moro 4 50123 Florence FI – open every day from 6:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. (Friday and Saturday until 2 p.m.)

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Santa Rosa Bistrot: outdoor & eco-friendly oasis in San Frediano

Santa Rosa Bistrot: outdoor & eco-friendly oasis in San Frediano

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“Eat, drink, feel good” is the motto of the Santa Rosa Bistrot, a charming cafe-bar-restaurant decorated with exquisite taste, offering an intimate and cosy atmosphere next to Porta San Frediano wall. Open since September 2016, this establishment stands in the plot that once belonged to the Mama nightclub, closed early in the year 2000 due to complaints of the neighbourhood. Its slogan “Green” relates to a healthy and light menu based on fish, vegetables and crostini. In its garden with picnic area there is a nursery of aromatic herbs used also to prepare cocktails. Santa Rosa Bistrot is crowded on weekends, especially at night, with endless queuing to order a drink or something to eat. A better idea is to go any day during the week in the afternoon.
Santa Rosa Bistrot is open from eight in the morning until midnight – live music

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Il Coccolo – Fritti i cornetti: traditional frying in the centre of Florence

Il Coccolo – Fritti i cornetti: traditional frying in the centre of Florence

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As a fine aesthete, the first thing that attracts my attention in an establishment is its appearance. However, I am not that fond of formal beauty, neither of the most sophisticated interior design. To me, there is also splendour in imperfection, ugliness, kitsch, trash or decadence, as in the shabby and the traditional. In this sense, and especially in the commercial field, the wrapping is also important. As I wander through the streets of Florence I love how some venues catch my absentminded attention. It´s works as a sensory impact, kind of a crush. This was the case with Il Coccolo, the only traditional Florentine frying premise in the historic centre, where there´s stuffed croissants to pleasure, fish and chips, and other delicatessen. Turns ideal to those who love fried food.
Il Coccolo – Fritti i cornetti – Via Matteo Palmieri, 30 / r – open until late at night

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Rasputin, a secret bar in Florence

Rasputin, a secret bar in Florence

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There is no doubt that prohibition awakens desire. Rasputin stands as a speakeasy: an exclusive bar behind closed doors, to which only a few are granted access. Indeed, all cities in the world have their secret bar. The speakeasy concept emerged in the first decades of the twentieth century in New York, in full swing of Prohibition. I’m not very fond of cocktails, as seeing a beautiful glass with just capacity for a cappuccino, priced 10 or 15 euros, from which one could only drink a sip almost as fast as a shot, makes me feel terribly upset. I prefer a jar of beer or a generous glass of wine, which despite the anxiety for drinking guarantees a prolonged delight. Despite all this, I like how in Rasputin cocktails rise in the twilight and are enlivened by good jazz. Furthermore, the staff is so exquisite and attentive, and the place so splendid, that one even forgets how it smells damp (this feature also amounts for its irresistible appeal). The entry is also rare, as there is nothing outside indicating that it is a bar. Instead, it looks like a hermitage with plenty of saints and candles. Their self-invented cocktails cost between 12-15 euros. Naturally, Rasputin is not suitable to low cost guests.
Rasputin is somewhere in Oltrarno, near Santo Spirito

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La Ménagère, as hipster as Florence could be

La Ménagère, as hipster as Florence could be

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La Ménagère is a sophisticated and cosy place in Florence expected otherwise in New York’s SoHo or NoHo. Everything inside seems perfect: the colour of the orchids, the arrangement of glasses, the glow of a piano that none plays, or the tone of the lighting. The comfortable facilities of this multipurpose space (restaurant, bar and coffee, flower and household shop) resemble a neat stage. So neat that, even though it is in front of my house, I only enter it on occasional dates. I still haven´t made up my mind on whether it fascinates or scares me. I am that kind of person. To me, in Florence traditional is better, so I rather prefer used and grooved premises, where the photos on the walls are really old and made by the owner. There, where objects and space are not the result of the careful work of an interior designer, but of some mime and sincere dedication of its owner. Imperfect places reflecting a dubious taste, becoming beautiful and, at the same time, enigmatic. In spite of it all, I have been told that La Ménagère is sure a good eat.
La Ménagère. Via De’ Ginori, 8/R, 50123 Florence FI, Italy

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Fiaschetteria-Osteria Nuvoli, “crostini” for 1 euro

Fiaschetteria-Osteria Nuvoli, “crostini” for 1 euro

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In Florence, the small and narrow premises usually stand as an attraction impossible to refuse. However, and although the Fiaschetteria-Osteria Nuvoli has a dining space on the lower floor, it is much more pleasing to eat and drink outside its door, watching all, as well as being seen. Ideally, it is a place to take a bite when not having much time or hunger. Among its snacks are crostini cheese, mushrooms, salami, prosciutto, panini tartufati and more. The wine selection looks as almost endless. Crostini for 1 euro, each meatball costs 1,5 euros and a large wine glass 5 euros. Count on a rustic location and definitely friendly service, and is right in the heart of the city.
Fiaschetteria-Osteria Nuvoli – Piazza dell’Olio, 15/r

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