Thursday, September 8, 2016

Welcome Back to La Scaletta, the Bargello

We arrived back in Florence at La Scaletta last evening (September 7, 2016), to find prosecco and strawberries and a lovely welcome note waiting in Room 21, courtesy of Cristina, who was not working that night. Though she promised to see us this morning, we slept in and may have missed her, as she was not on the desk when we had breakfast and when we went out for the day.
Our flights were all on time, and just as long as I remembered. All but the last leg (what we’d call a puddle jumper) was at least the Economy Comfort seating we expected this time, which was a decided improvement over our 2014 trip over. Shawn had a bad long flight, as there was a lot of turbulence. Neither of us slept as we’d hoped to do, but I had a more comfortable night than he did.
We ate here last night, watching a cloudy sunset from the rooftop terrace and meeting a trio from Florida and South Carolina. It was lovely as always, though one cannot get back that first impression of the breathtaking view, much as one might wish to.
After confirming our choice of Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Le Oche Fattoria San Lorenzo (2014) with the new sommelier, Rafaele, I had Gnocchi on Taleggio Fondue, Walnuts and Pears in Red Wine; Shawn had Ombrina Fish with Baked Seasonal Vegetables. The wine and our meals were very good. We had a lovely fresh ricotta with pistachios, chocolate and orange zest accompanied by complimentary vin santo for dessert. Nothing equals the view, though—for which Rafaele (briefly) charged us 500 Euros.

We slept in until 9 AM local time today, a good long rest, for which Shawn is overdue. We made it to breakfast at about 9:45, just in time. After that, we wandered across the Ponte Vecchio, made a brief foray into Piazza della Signoria, deciding to visit the loggia at a different time, as it was already crowded with tour groups. 

Next to the Bargello, the national sculpture museum of Italy, which we had intended to see on our last trip. As usual in Florence, though, there is much to see and not enough time to see it all. The Bargello houses many sculptures and artifacts, including many lovely Cellinis, including studies for the Perseus in the Piazza della Signoria, as well as some Giambologna pieces that are not related to those in the piazza. The Brunelleschi and Ghiberti competition pieces for the doors of the baptistery may be seen there. As is often the case here, the Bargello itself is also a star: it is the loveliest former prison I have ever seen. (Many of the photos here are not mine; credit goes to Shawn Hale.)

After, we sought out Casa del vin Santo, where we have eaten before, for our lunch. We had a half bottle of Villa Antinori Toscana. Shawn tried a gnocchi with mozzarella, tomato and basil, followed by a Mediterranean tuna salad (no mayo involved), while I enjoyed Panzenella Toscana—light, cool, and refreshing. After, we stopped at Grom, where Shawn sampled the lampone sorbetto and I tried fico (fig).

We walked through Piazza del Duomo, looking at the Baptistery (which we want to visit this time), the Campanile, the Duomo from all sides. We checked out the redone (closed when last we were here) Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, but decided that since a single ticket gets one into the Duomo, Santa Reparata, the Campanile, the Baptistery and the Opera, we’d save it for another day, and start early.

Then we made our way to the Sapori grocery on Via dei Bardi for fazzoletti (doesn’t that sound a lot better than Kleenex?), vino, and birra, and back to La Scaletta, to call our insurance agent about our homeowners’ insurance, because I couldn’t let rest the pesky email about it. (Some people just have to interfere with vacation.) Shawn has been having a rest, while I wait for an iron that will never arrive, because linen. (Which is what one wants to wear in Florentine September, with dry daytime temperatures ranging between 90 and 96 degrees Fahrenheit, as they were.) So, with Shawn’s aid, the iron and board (minus one foot) did arrive, so I will be able to wear ironed linen and silk and not be an obvious, crumpled American.

We had drinks here, a Negroni and an Aperol Spritz (much better here than in Kazoo… might be the backdrop, but one always wonders if the good stuff stays in country ….).

After drinks, we and went to Toscanella Osteria for dinner, after Shawn made reservations online. The drawing? Painting of a woman in a bicycle/gladitorial helmet (?) is still there, puzzling me. A dirty knife has fallen into the space showing the original building’s floor; the glass is pocked with serious marks and dusty bits hang from the edges of the glass, so the atmosphere was somewhat less than during our last trip. But the pici and tagliatelle with arrabiata were delicious. Shawn’s melanzane was excellent, my omelette with verdure grillata was less so, though good. Dessert and wine were very good. I had a flourless chocolate cake with a touch of marmellata and Shawn had zucco, a medieval dish involving ricotta and a little bit of chocolate and candy.

We had a nice walk back along Via Guicciardini and have been finishing the evening as the old folks do, offloading our pictures, and enjoying the breeze from the window with a view of Fort Belvedere.


  1. So beautiful! I love the hawk sculpture. And linen--yes, so comfy, so wrinklish! lol. Especially now, with 26-ish days (?) days left until November 8, this looks wonderful.

  2. Shawn, your photos are wonderful! I think my favorite is of Donatello's David. I hadn't realized it was so hot there- that must have tired you both out considerably. You had good food and good friends and all of Florence. What a marvelous vacation!