My lovely Italian friend Lucia recommended Trattoria La Casalinga – literally, ‘Trattoria of the housewife’ – to me when she heard I was coming to Florence. It’s just off the Piazza Santo Spirito, which has become one of my favourite areas in Florence. It’s in Oltrano – the ‘other side of the Arno’ river – which has been undergoing considerable gentrification in recent years. The tourists do come here but it’s a bit off the main tourist route apart from the Boboli Gardens and Pitti Palace. You’ll find great traditional restaurants, cafes, bars and a rich cultural scene with artisan workshops.
There was a big queue when I arrived at the Trattoria at opening time, 7pm. Fortunately I’d booked by email, receiving such a friendly reply from Andrea that this, with Lucia’s recommendation, made me really look forward to eating there. And I wasn’t disappointed. This was another great find for eating good, traditional Tuscan food in Florence.
There are various ‘sections’ to the restaurant and I was led through to what seemed to be the main area – perhaps because I’d booked well in advance. All the waiting staff were friendly and there were plenty of them which boded well – and correctly – for good service.
I ordered a glass of prosecco to have straight away while I looked at the menu (€6) and a bottle of mineral water.
I already knew I wanted the Tagliata di Manzo for I simply had to have steak before I left Florence – and it was my last evening. I like steak a lot (though I only eat it occasionally) and the thing to have in Florence is Bistecca alla Fiorentina. However, that’s usually served for 2. Tagliata makes a wonderful alternative though.
Given my main course plan, I wanted a light meat-free starter and chose a courgette and Grana (Parmesan like cheese) salad (€6) to begin.
When I saw how much Grana was shaved on top I thought I’d made a mistake for I knew the Tagliata would be similarly dressed. However, the dish was so good, the essence of simplicity with tiny pieces of raw courgette beautifully dressed, that I was glad I’d had it. It was a huge portion though so I left some – it would have been plenty for 2 as a starter – knowing what was to come.
Well yes the Tagliata (€20) did look quite similar!
But hiding under the rocket and cheese were perfectly cooked slices of steak.
It was divine. Absolutely perfect; wonderfully tender and gorgeously tasty. I had a side of roast potatoes to go with it (€2.50) and an excellent glass of Chianti (€6).
I really didn’t need a dessert but I’d seen tiramisu (€4.50) arriving at other tables and couldn’t resist. It was very good; a classic recipe with no fancy modern ‘interpretation’ – the real thing.
An espresso, glass of limoncello and then the bill and a wonderful meal was finished.
As I came out I could see into the kitchen where huge pieces of steak were being sliced.
Then a slow walk across the city back to the Hotel Cellai. I was in no hurry for it was still quite early and this was my last evening in Florence. I felt a bit sad to be leaving so soon but then I have plenty to look forward to over the next few days, going on to Lucca next, then Comano to visit my friend Annette.
The Ponte Vecchio looked stunning from Ponte S. Trinita in the dying golden light.
I stayed on the Oltrano side to walk back to the Ponte Vecchio and cross it, where I witnessed a glorious sunset.
And looking the other way from the bridge towards where I walked yesterday to Piazzale Michelangelo.
Then I walked on along the side of the river towards the Uffizi where I’d walk through the courtyard and into Piazza della Signora.
As the doorway into Palazzo Vecchio was open, I took a look inside.
I walked a little way up via De Calzaioni before cutting through to Piazza Repubblica, which is always a hotspot of lively entertainment.
Then onwards past the Duomo and the Basilica of San Lorenzo, which always looks rather bare but worth knowing that Michelangelo had grand plans for its facade which weren’t carried out.
What a lovely evening and how great it’s been to spend a few days in this wonderful city again.
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