You know I do my share of roaming and research, but after several days of going solo, I was up for some guidance and expertise.
Previously when I checked with Coral Sisk of Curious Appetite about booking her Aperitivo Tour, she said this week was the only week it was not offered. She prefaced this sad news with “Super Bummer”. Then, outta the blue she contacted me and said it had opened up and was I still interested? Si Grazie!!
We were to meet 18:30 in front of Procacci on via Tornabuoni. Several mornings I have woken up saying, “Today, I visit Procacci”, but I’ve yet to. So, this is perfetto.
Shortly after I arrive (yes, just a tad early), three girls about Avery’s age walk up verifying with their phone map that they have arrived at the correct spot. I walk over, introduce myself telling them I am sure we are in for a treat. This will be my 3rd (a 4th scheduled for when Avery arrives) event with Curious Appeite and I have had great experiences.
Within moments Coral arrives, Let the tour begin.
Procacci is our first stop.
“This delicatessen was founded by Leopoldo Procacci in 1885 and, due to its historical, artistic and artisan heritage, it quickly gained an excellent reputation with the Florentine population for its gastronomic delicacies made with truffles (King Vittorio Emanuele II even made the shop an official supplier to the royal family, granting its founder, Leopoldo Procacci, the right to include the royal coat of arms on his signage). Savoring these specialties continues to be a popular ritual both with Florentines and visitors.”
We sample the Antinori family Prosecco,
paired perfectly with the dainty truffle sandwich they are know for.
Coral educates us on the difference between champagne and prosecco. We learn prosecco is meant to be enjoyed young. I look forward to finding (and pricing) this crisp, clean prosecco at home.
Walking to our 2nd destination, Coral shares some history of Piazza Repubblica.
The Column of Abundance is a 1956 replica. The original was erected in 1431 at a crossing of the ancient Roman city.
A little food, a little drink, a little art, a little history, a little more food and drink…my kind of tour.
Osteria Nuvoli. As I prepare to take an exterior shot, one of the purveyors teases me saying I can take the photo, but because he is famous, I cannot sell it…deal.
Coral is excited to bring us here. She said usually the groups are too large to visit this establishment. Curious Appetite caps their tours at 6 people, that should give you an idea how small this place is.
Before heading down to the cellar, I notice these strips of paper blowing in the breeze. I ask, “Que significa?” The guy waiting on us proceeds to tell Coral that these are Treasure Hunts of sorts. He then goes outside and pulls one from its hiding spot and explains further.
He says people hunt them, find them, then sign them. I say, “Like geocaching?” He lights up and says, “Si! Geocaching!” He then rolls the treasure back up and retucks it away.
The girls and Coral can’t believe I’ve noticed something so seemingly insignificant. I tell them when you travel alone, you notice a lot…and you learn to ask questions.
In the cellar we are treated to an abundance of local carni e formaggi as well as both un vino bianco e rosso. All molto buono.
With the wine, food and fun conversation, I think we could have stayed here all night but Coral tells us we have one more stop to make.
We go from local rustic to local swank. This place and the cocktails prepared for us left me speechless.
Before we begin, Coral gives us a couple of folklore tales about the Negroni.
Here’s a bit of background from Food & Wine-
“1919, The Beginning: The story of the Negroni begins at the Caffè Casoni in Florence. There’s no documented historical account, but it is believed by cocktailians that Count Camillo Negroni invented the drink when he ordered an Americano made with gin in place of the usual soda water. It was a success and not long after, the Negroni family founded the Negroni distillery, which produced a ready-to-drink version of the cocktail that they called Antico Negroni 1919.
1947, Word Spreads: Orson Welles made one of the first documented remarks about the cocktail. He tried one while on location in Rome and commented to the Coshocton Tribune, “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.” ”
This was my first and I am sure it will never be topped.
Our cocktails were brought to us in a clear box filled with smoke. When Roberto opened the box I wasn’t sure if I was at Mass or a cocktail bar. The scent that escaped was fuised with herbs and spices.
For four Southern gals (the girls I’m with are from Georgia) this was a cocktail on a whole new level.
The accompanying “snacks” dazzled as well.
Coral advises us to drink up, as we’ve got one more Negroni to go.
To my left appears Roberto again, this time with Negroni Chianti for all. Lovely cut glass with hand chiseled ice cube and a spiced version of a classic Negroni.
Oh and of course this cocktail came with its own sidekick.
What an evening! Coral does an amazing tour and she is so generous with her time and talents. We definitely went over the 2.5 hours advertised.
When it was time to say our goodbyes, Coral asked the girls what their plans were for the evening. They said they had none. So, you know me…I asked them if they had been Oltrarno. No? Andiamo!
I took them on a quick spin to some of my favorite spots near my appartamento. They commented that maybe being a tour guide is in my future…I said I had no desire to be part is someone’s hopes and dreams…too much pressure.
Buona notte nuovi amici. Buona notte di Firenze. Buona notte luna.