Recommended in Italy

By Florence Drake
This item appears on page 26 of the July 2020 issue.
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From our holiday trip to Italy in December 2019, my husband, Bill, and I came up with the following recommendations, starting with a couple of restaurants we discovered.

Trattoria da Guido (Via Faenza, 34/R, FLORENCE; phone +39 055 2645741; www.trattoriadaguido.net [in Italian only]) — This is a restaurant advertising “Cucina tipica toscana” (“Typical Tuscan cuisine”). We liked it so much that we ate there both nights we were in Florence. 

At the rather early hour we like to eat (around 6 p.m.), we were almost the only customers in the place. Neither of us speaks Italian, but wait staff were most helpful.

Their pasta was tender and well sauced, whether with tomato-based or pesto sauces. I had pumpkin ravioli one night and pasta with pesto the next. I don’t recall the prices, but they were very reasonable, and the house wine was yummy, plentiful and cheap. [Fixed-price menus range from 15 to 25 (near $17-$28) — Editor.]

Bar Magenta (Via Canducci 13, MILAN; phone +39 02 8053808; barmagenta.it [in Italian only]) — This bar and restaurant is located on a point of land in Milan where five or six streets all meet. The building has a funny shape, owing to its placement on the point near other buildings.

Happy Hour was from 5:30 to 9 p.m. During this time, for around 10 (near $11), you got your choice of a drink (soda, beer, wine or one of their fancy mixed cocktails) plus multiple trips to the buffet.

The buffet’s array of salads, casseroles, cheeses, olives, cold cuts and other goodies probably included 20 different items. The cooks were constantly replacing near-empty pans with something new. A foodie’s paradise! And this happened every night, with live music to boot.

• Regarding vaporettos in VENICE, make sure to scan your ticket before going onto the waiting pier. If you get off one vaporetto and need to wait for another from that spot, walk off the pier, go around and rescan your ticket, then walk back onto the waiting pier again.

If inspectors board your vaporetto, they will electronically examine everyone’s tickets, and, our guides warned us, if yours has not been scanned for that ride, there is a no-argument fine of 100. (It’s very easy to miss the scanning machine when a lot of people are boarding at the same time.)

• By the way, the Venetians seemed to have a love/hate relationship with tourists, and the hate part seems to be a bit stronger. It’s because of the zillions of people who invade their city every day, especially in summer, making it difficult for them to move around their own city, do their shopping and use public transportation.

We experienced this animosity many times, such as not-so-gentle shoves for space on vaporettos, unwillingness to smile or help with directions, and other unsubtle acts.

• Lastly, in Venice in winter during high tides, you really do need those silly-looking boots that tie just beneath your knees. They cost about 8 per pair, are very thin and often spring leaks, but put them on, as the temporary ramps erected in the piazzas and on many streets do not go to all the places you need to walk. Happy sloshing!

FLORENCE DRAKE
Readfield, ME