Lucca/Florence area in October...where should I eat
I am traveling to Italy in the beginning of October. I rented a villa in Lucca for a week. I am planning on spending a day or two in Florence and the rest of the time traveling around Chianti, Tuscany and possibly up to Bologna/Parma area. What would you folks suggest for food options. I defintely want to do some high-end dining, but also enjoy simple rustic food (really enjoyed the enclosed marketplace in Florence when I went last year). Where should I go?
Vino Ed? With all due respect, why is every italian dining experience reffered back to Mario Batali. Certain bastions of food were made popular amongst Americans way before Mario even boiled an egg. If anyone has made Vipore famous, it's Cesare Casella who's family own's it. I guess that everything thing italian needs the Batali stamp of approval.
in florence, go to piazza santo spirito. there's one side that has a market on the corner(sorry i am horrible with names of places), then a restaurant with seating just outside. go to that restaurant. there's another one past the gelato place with seating on the other side of the sidewalk, dont go there. or around the corner on the other side of the mini market os a sandwich place. cheap~!!!!!
then go to the oltarno, and go to the pitti palace. across the street look for caffe pitti it has the most amazing food. they specialize in truffles. yummie. not too fine dining, and the prices are resonable. let me know!!!!
******the best sandwiches of all time:
The Oil Shoppe- you have to go to this place! cheap too! 3Euros!!!! its on Via San Edigio. OH MAN!!! go on the backside of the DUomo, and go toward the hospital, pass the hospital,toward/amost to the end of the street and you'll see a line out the door usually. its on the same side as the hospital! its incredible....
when you get to the front of the line, they ask you which bread. the square wheat one goes fast, and its yummie, but the focaccia is incredible. the baguette is nice also. then they has you which meat. they have about 20+ different meats to choose from. then tey slice the meat for you and then they ask you which "vegetables"....these are the choices i remember:
lettuce-over there its cabbage
sun dried tomato
red bell peppers (roasted)
3 different kinds of mozzarella
(there are more, i know it, but i cant remember off the top of my head)
you can have them put just olive oil and its like 30yr old balsamic or......
my favorite: apple mustard (it has a little spicy kick to it)
so, anything on the sandwich you like, with one choice of meat, and its incredible. for only 3 Euros, all the american students (like me) knew and knows about this place. the owner is this large italian man (i think he's italian ) and he's also the teacher at the Culinary Institute of Florence which is where you can also take day cooking lessons as a tourist!!!!!
please, go to the sandwich place!!!!! lemme know!!!!
I spent four days in Lucca last month. In Lucca, I loved Trattoria da Leo... full of locals, which is always a good sign! It was fairly casual, simple food, but very good quality. I'd definitely reccommend it for a less formal Sunday night supper or something along those lines. There's also a small cafe in the back of the town, near the end of the main street (Via Felluga or something like that??) heading towards the main water fountain, that had great morning cappucino and half panini. I have a picture of it somewhere with the name, but you can't miss it... bright red awning and outdoor tables. I went back 4 mornings in a row!! And don't buy bottled water in Lucca... I mean, buy one, then refill your empty bottle at the public water fountains in town. Lucca has a natural spring that runs through the town, and the water is seriously delicious -- almost a little sweet. There's also usually mineral content plaques next to each fountain in case you wanted to see what you are drinking.
In Florence, check out the wine bars. My favorites were L'Volpe e L'Uva and Bar Pitti Gola. I have pictures of both, as well as more details on my food-themed blog if you want to check it out...
Trattoria Cammillo on the Oltrarno was one of our favorites. Be sure to ask for the Italian (not the "tourist") menu. Beautifully prepared Tuscan specialties in a warm & convivial dining room.
We had the Ribollita & squash blossoms. DH had the wild boar & I had an amazingly-perfect grilled porkchop.
Not to be missed in Lucca is "Da Leo Fratelli Buralli" @ Via Tegrimi 1. The best place in Lucca by far. Bustling kitchen, lots of locals, and the female waiters who are very funny and yell out (in a nice way) to each other and customers alike. I was in Lucca for three days and would have eaten three meals here.
For a snack head to the south-east corner of the market and try one of the fried doughs. Amazing!
Spent 5 wonderful days in Lucca on winter - a gem of a small walled, very much alive and affluent little city. Be sure to walk all around its walls and peer into the windows and lives of this city from its heights.
Buca San Antonio had one Michelin star when I was there, but prices were beyond my budget then. It looked beautiful and cozy. In fact, most of the prices in this town were beyond my budget but I still found small things to enjoy.
Over by Buca was a tavola calda (cafeteria) type restaurant that was the cheapest for a dinner - you pick and choose each item and dine in a very spare and industrial feeling setting. But the food was good - look for this if you want to watch your budget and just eat occasionally, rather than dine.
There was a great, creative panini shop up the main street along the side of the Hotel Universo, shortly after you enter the walled city from the train station.
There is a daily market in the main square where you can pick up some food items. As well as more basic but good fresh panini also on this square. And it is always okay to just order soup or pasta and forget the other courses for an often adequate meal.
The best treats in Lucca for me were the beautiful and elegant old world cafes that came alive and sparkled during the evening passigiatas. The city is famous for its panforte - in several different versions and all were favorites with me. Also expensive. One enjoys small bites to make it last.
The town is small, self-contained and not much room for bargain shopping. A short bus trip up to Bagni di Lucca which is an old faded spa town had a very intriguing looking restaurant called "Circlo de Forestieres" ( or something like that) which looked rather grand in this historic old town that had its day and still retains a certain small charm for the past frolics of Belle Epoque. Never ate there, but wish I had.
Bagni di Lucca, and the surrounding area, is beautiful and worthy of a day trip if you have a car. A squiggly road up through Vellano, a tiny hamlet perched on a hill, will yield a delicious lunch, of whatever is fresh that day, at the small roadside trattoria overlooking the valley (No, I can't remember the name, but there are only two and I'm thinking of the one outdoors). When I mentioned that the salad tasted exceptionally fresh, the waitress answered "well it should, it was growing an hour ago". Dinner in Bagni di Lucca, again outdoors, seated above the rushing stream was at Da Vinicio. The vegetable soup is a meal in a bowl, fried artichoke hearts were crisp and perfect. My pumpkin ravioli w/ hazelnut sauce was a symphony of tastes and textures. Save room for something cooked in their ancient wood burning oven, she says kissing her fingertips.
We chose this casual spot over the more formal one (name???) because the menu translations were too jumbled to make sense. EX: "lobsterini with yellow flours" or "check pea box with wild soce" ???? and these dinner entree prices were double digit euros. Our whole meal at Da Vinicio with beer & wine was 26.70 euro.
Enjoy your trip.
NB: I should note that this area, in the hills north of Lucca, is more Alpine than Tuscan in climate and general feel. The vegetable gardens were at least a month behind their Florentine neighbors.
Aqua al 2 in Florence, try the assagi di pasta (tastes of pasta).
Upscale at Cibreo for adverturous eaters and really good time.
Pizzeolo is great for pizza, near Cibreo/Santa Croce I think.
It won't look like it but the Yellow Bar has some of the best pizza/pasta in town. It looks touristy but easy and very, very good.
We spent a week in Florence last October and took the train to Lucca for a day. It was awesome. I have several suggestions for you to consider -
Since you have a place to prepare meals, find the local market and shop. It is a foodie heaven. Fresh buffalo mozz for less than a euro, arrugala, pestos etc. The danger is over buying. We prepared about six meals in our condo. We were half block from Santa Croce. Look for the tratatoris for the menu. Great food for less than 10 euros for three courses. The house reds were generally about 8/litre.
Close to the ,arket, we found a great little wine shop were we bought the empty bottles for a euro and they had a choice of about 15 wines to fill (all for less than 3 euros) They would cork and hand lable. Bring the empty back and have it refilled the next day! With the two couples, we went thru 18 bottles in three days. It was great!
We had such a great time, the two couples are going back in 2007 for two weeks to eat our way thru Tuscany!
We spent a week in Lucca last Oct. A definite is Buca San Antonio, very romantic/charming with great food. Caneuila on via Caneuila was really great. It has an outdoor garden for dinner. Fabulous food. Ate there 2x, was recommended by a local. I pretty sure its near Piazza Antiteatro which is a very nice piazza to stop and have a drink before. I loved Lucca, have a great time.