Villa di Piazzano

When I asked Lori what she wanted for her birthday this year she said she’d like to go to Tuscany and visit our friends at the Villa di Piazzano. We’ve been to the Villa many times and always return because to leave the Villa is like leaving relatives behind in Tuscany. Many places can offer a nice room but few can make you feel like family. The Villa itself is a virtual landmark with a long and rich history. The Wimpole family has managed to upgrade and modernize the Villa in tasteful manner adding all the modern amenities you would expect but still maintaining the “Old World” charm. They have recently added a new Sommelier and do wine tastings in the afternoon. We always are sure to dine at least one evening at the Villa with our friend the bubbly Chef Gabriella. Well I can go on forever with our pauses for the Villa but as they say “TRY IT YOU”LL LIKE IT”.

 

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Pizzarium, Rome Italy

Owner/Chef Gabreile Bonci wrote the book on Pizza. They use only the finest ingredients for his creative toppings. This is a small local take-out pizza shop that you may eat in standing up. The pizza is great and the assortment is very special.

Located in a neighborhood that is about a 1/2 mile from the Vatican which is rarely traveled by tourists you will have to go a bit out of your way but it’s worth it.

Pizzarium

via della Meloria 43, 00136 Rome, Italy
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Ristorante Babette, Tuscany, Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy

Prior to our visit to Tuscany we had discussed some new restaurants in the area with our local friends Bianca and Enzo. They had mentioned a place had opened but they have not tried it yet.  So prior to leaving Lori decided we are all going to Babette.  Locate in the Casale di Brolio outside the small town of Castiglion Fiorentino. This is remotely located but the roads are good and it’s easy to find.

We arrived at Babette and it was a very quite evening because of the rain and the time of year, Tuscany really starts to slowdown in October.  It’s an attractive place with clean Tuscan appearance.  We started the meal with an amazing amusebouche of foie gras.  It was nice to have four of us dining so we had a chance try many dishes.  Our appetizer was scallops that were perfectly seared and presented with several sauces. I’m not sure how I felt about the Foie and scallop combination.  The Pasta course was Pici a local hand rolled thick spaghetti with Wild Boar ragu its was excellent and on my list of must have again dishes.   I had a really interesting suckling pig in a Chocolate sauce, Lori had a perfectly prepared Sea Bream, Bianca an amazing Monk Fish and Enzo his standard Beef Fillet which was so tender no knife was required.

We did of course save room for desert, this is a good plan!!  The deserts were on par with any Michelin 3 star restaurant.  The presentations were amazing and they tasted even better than they looked.  The Tiramisu was absolutely the best!!  Perhaps my favorite all time desert!

When in Tuscany or even within a 12 hour flight don’t miss a dinner at Babette. The service was excellent and they do speak English well for those that are concerned.. This is truly fine dining in Tuscany.

Ristorante Babette

Presso Casale di Brolio
Località Brolio, 74
52043 Castiglion Fiorentino (Arezzo)

Tel.: 0575 652054
Fax: 0575 652254

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RISTORANTE IL LATINI

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While staying in the lovely countryside of Tuscany, Lori decided to have me, drive us to Florence to visit a restaurant recommend by her doctor that is known to love his food.  I was reluctant to drive in Florence because this usually involves driving down one way streets the wrong direction , driving in traffic restricted areas and a host of other moving violations.  This time was no exception so after the “drive” we arrived in Florence, parked the car and found IL Latini.

IL Latini is known for their Florentine Steaks which can be some of the best beef found in the world.  Two of the best steaks we have eaten have been Florentine however sadly to say this was not going to be one of those heavenly days. The restaurant is very casual, crowded with many tourists and the servers really did a great job of working the crowd.  We ordered the Steak , Tuscan beans and salad.   The kindest comments I have was that the food was OK or perhaps they had an off day.

RISTORANTE IL LATINI

Address: via dei Palchetti 6/r (Palazzo Rucellai) – 50123 – Firenze
Telephone: (+39) 055 210916
Email: info@illatini.com

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Ristorante S.ANNA, Rome, Italy

We learned about S.Anna from some locals siting besides us at Da Francisco. Since then we have visited several times.  S.Anna is a nice local everyday Italian restaurant.  Pasta are house made and great.  The anti-pasta bar offer a good assortment and is very good. Once in a while they have this special cake that they bake it’s really a treat.  I can’t think of the name of it but I do remember having it a couple of times then being disappointed one day when they ran out of it.   Do visit for solid and unpretentious Italian food.

Ristorante S.Anna

P.IVA 04199781008 – Via di S. Anna, 8/9 – 00186 Roma Tel. 06.68.30.71.90 – 06.68.96.485 – ristorantesantanna@libero.it
Accettiamo tutte le carte di credito – Chiuso la Domenica

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Osteria dell’Olmo, Perugia, Italy

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We received a recommendation from a friend of a friend that has sent a lot of time in Perugia. We called our Italian friends and asked them to join us for dinner. I set the GPS in the rental car and off we went. After the usual amount of animated conversation and circling we arrived. We were pleasantly surprised by a charming exterior and really impressed by the romantic setting inside. It was love at first sight for me and first bite for Lori. All of the dishes were expertly prepared and presented in a modern yet approachable manner, very fitting for the location. All of the pasta dishes were homemade and superb. The eggplant starter was amazing!! The local fish was pristine and melted like butter in your mouth. The Tuscan white pork was almost as good as sex.

All around an excellent dinner at a very reasonable cost. We all agreed that is was definitely a fine recommendation.

Osteria dell’Olmo, Perugia, Italy

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Pluripremiata Gelato “World Champs”, San Gimignano, Italy

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In the heart of San Gimignano lies this wonderful Gelato shop, it’s the one with the line in front of it. WAIT do not go to the other shops without a line!!

This is homemade Gelato that is truly “World Class”. It’s not the best Gelato I’ve eaten but very close.

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Cum Quibus, San Gimignano, Italy

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Probably the finest traditional Tuscan meal we’ve eaten.

We walked into a packed restaurant without a confirmed reservation. There was one table for two or deuce for those in the business available. We were told that it was previously reserved however they have not arrived yet,  they were 20 minutes late. I started a conversation with the restaurant staff and convinced them to give us the table.
BTW: they never showed however there was a never ending stream of walk-ins turned away.

Primi:  The most delicious poppardelle with a wild boar ragu imaginable. The wild boar was so soft it melted like butter in my mouth. The tagliolini with white truffle was excellent with a very delicate flavor of truffle.

Secondi: I decided to try the Tripe stuffed with sausage. Tripe has a bad rap at times of being rubbery. This tripe however was anything but it cut with a fork and melted like butter. In fact I even applied the tripe like butter to the bread.
Lori had the Florentine steak for two. It was cooked to perfection and  possibly the most tender meat, we have consumed. BTW: we let them serve it as it should be without issuing any temperature preference.
This was better than a Peter Luger’s steak and we consider that to be the best porterhouse in NYC.

I noticed the table of local next to us all ordering the Cantuccini so we followed their lead. The Cantuccini was hard like a rock however it absorbed the vin santo like a sponge and was special.

Needless to summarize we love this place and will return.

Com Quibus

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Trattoria del Tribunale, Parma, Italy

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Trattoria del Tribunale offers excellent fresh cooked local specialties at a very reasonable price.

We started with the Torta Fritta and Parma Ham. When in Rome as they say!  The dough was light and airy and the Ham as expected wonderful.

Primi:  The Tortelli di Zucca(Pumpkin Ravioli) was so good my wife almost chopped my finger off when I went to taste a piece. The pumpkin filling was flavored with Amaretto, a really nice touch. I had the Tortelli al radicchio rosso e noci (ravioli with chicory and walnuts) it too was excellent however the Tortelli di zucca was special and I highly recommend it.

For the Secondi:  We both had the Parmigiana di Melanzane (eggplant parmigiana).  At first the portion size looked small however it was extremely rich with an amazing depth of flavors. We both were pleasantly surprised by a real eggplant parm… it was great !!!  The contorni we had was Spinaci bolliti o saltati alla parmigiana it was cooked to perfect with just the right amount of cheese. “This was the best Spinaci I have ever eaten.”

Dessert is mandatory!  You must try the SBRISOLONA, it is this light and delicious almond crumble. We both agree that we would fly to Italy from Florida just to have another one !! The Torta di Chocolate was also outstanding.

When in Parma do not pass by Trattoria del Tribunale…  its worth the trip!!
<a href=”http://www.trattoriadeltribunale.it/” rel=”nofollow”>www.trattoriadeltribunale.it/</a>

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Canta Napoli, Camucia, Tuscany (near Cortona) Italy

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Several years ago we asked our friends that live in Camucia to take us to a local place where people go to eat for everyday food.  They took us to Canta Napoli and we LOVE it….I have been reluctant to place anything about this place on the internet fearing it may ruin such a wonderful place unspoiled by tourists.

It’s a Neapolitan style pizzeria as the name implies.  They feature a large variety of pizzas.  We always have one however we never miss some of the freshest seafood available anywhere.  I recommend the calamari salad and mixed grilled seafood.  Both of these dishes are featured in the pictures above.  Let’s not forget the fresh Neapolitan pastries driven up from Naples almost daily.  The Baba Rum or Baba au Rhum is my personal favorite and I rejoice when they have them……..

I wholeheartedly recommend Canta Napoli and we will certainly return hoping that not too many of my followers are taking all the tables.

 

Canta Napoli – Ristorante – Pizzeria

Loc. Le Piagge, 33 – Camucia Cortona (AR)

http://www.cantanapoli.net/chisiamo.htm

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Capricci di Merion, Umbria, (Tuscan border) Italy

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This year when making arrangements for our annual pilgrimage to Tuscany (Cortona Area), we were discussing places to stay with our Italian friends and they recommended a place a bit off the beaten path in Tuoro sul Trasimemo.  Il Capricci di Merion. Please don’t get put off by the words agriturismo on the website. This is an entry level luxury resort with it’s own spa, outdoor pool and beautiful gardens.

On arrival, we were warmly greeted by the staff that could not do enough to accommodate my very fussy  wife. Being a slow week at the Inn, they allowed us to tour several rooms and choose the one of our liking.  They were all fully equipped with all the features one would expect at an upscale resort, including high thread count linens.  All the rooms had en suite bathrooms, some with showers others with tubs and showers.  I would recommend you view the rooms on their website and choose which is best suited for you or trust their recommendations.

We decided to have lunch our first day in Capricci di Merion’s picturesque restaurant. The food was all home made and authentic. I would highly recommend that you have at least one meal in house.

Having stayed at many fine Hotels, Inn’s and B&B’s worldwide, We can say that Capricci di Merion is world class and should not be missed on your next trip to Italy.

Capricci di Merion

http://www.capriccidimerion.it/eng/villa.html

Via Pozzo,21 Tuoro sul Trasimeno (Pg) – P.I. 02465620546
Tel: +39 075.825002 Fax: +39 075.8258217 E-mail: info@capriccidimerion.it

 

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Roscioli, Rome, Italy

Just a couple of blocks from the Campo de Fiori in the heart of Rome lies this wonderful bakery. Forno Riscioli  features a world renowned pizza. It’s one of our favorite stops for a lunch while we are wondering about the picturesque alleyways around the Campo. The next time your in Rome don’t miss this pizza. We are sure your going to love it as much as we do. Roscioli also has a restaurant that I’ll discuss in another post.

Here is a link to their website: http://www.salumeriaroscioli.com/Roscioli_Eng/homepage_eng.htm

The bakery and the specialities
Via dei Chiavari, 34
00186 Roma
Tel: 06 6864045

 

 

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Trattoria al Vecchio Forno, Tuscany, San Quirico d’Orcia, Italy

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Trattoria al Vecchio Forno, Tuscany, San Quirico d’Orcia, Italy

Owned by same owners of the Palazzo del Capitano in San Quirico d’Orcia, This charming ristorante feaures truly authentic Tuscan food. Wonderfully simple dishes of tuscan beans teased and pleased our palettes.  Fresh tri-color pasta was tossed with cheese and  candy like tomatoes. The wine list include some of my local favorites like Biondi-Santi. All this is just a short walk around the corner from the hotel so have a second bottle of wine.

http://www.palazzodelcapitano.com/ristorante.php

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La Bucaccia, Cortona, Tuscany, Italy

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In the Famous hilltop village of Cortona, La Bucaccia is conveniently located near the center of town. The owner and manager, Romano personally greets all of his guest with his unique style of humor. The menu is traditional Tuscan with some excellent specialities of the day. La Bucaccia’s wine cellar is Ramano’s pride and joy. He will gladly give you a guided tour and help you select a fine choice to accompany your dinner.  Romano loves to play with the guest cameras and has perfected this technique of photographing them through a wine glass.  We have dined there several times and have always enjoyed our meal. This evening we were accompanied by our dearest friends Bianca and  Enzo.

I would certainly recommend that you visit La Bucaccia for an enjoyable meal and entertaining evening.

BTW: The bottle of 1995 Avignonesi Vin Santo was not in the cellar, We acquired it elsewhere and shared some with Romano… This bottle is hard to find and is a heavenly experience.

Link to La Bucaccia

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Osteria Il Tinaio,San Quirico d’Orcia, Italy

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It was truffle season and how could we resist this small Osteria right down the block from Palazzo del Capitano. I think Lori was fascinated by the whole truffle weighing and slicing procedure. The owner personally came out to slice and weigh this delicacy, all I could do is imagine how much these cost. LOL, We really enjoyed the pasta with white truffles and a bottle of local wine.

Osteria Il Tinaio
Via Dante Alighieri 35/A
San Quirico d’Orcia (SI)
Tel./Fax 0577 898347

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Franchi, Roma, Italy

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Franchi is not a restaurant but more of a gourmet deli that allows you to enjoy a meal standing up at the counter.  I have not been there lately much as I used to however I always stop in to say hello to  my friends and have a bite to eat when in Rome. I have a large group of friends that always request I bring them the CHEESE that is the Parmigiano-Reggiano from Franchi.   I don’t no why but it is simply the best. I have searched the world including many other places in Italy however the CHEESE from Franchi is always the best.  Quite frankly you can’t go wrong with anything you get at Franchi!!!   They only have the best of the best of Italian foods in their shop. Yes, some people find it expensive however you get what you pay for.  Let me clue you in on the Rice Ball procedure.  Rick Steve, the budget travel writer has recommended Franchi for a quick bite. I personally wish Steve would send these tourists elsewhere however they come in droves in the summer for Rice Balls which are amazing. To accommodate all these tourists and collect their money Franchi has instituted a pay at the cashier then get your Rice Ball policy.

Via Cola di Rienzo, 204
00192 Roma (Lazio), Italy
+39 06 687 4651

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Ristorante di Poggio Antico, Tuscany, Italy

The Ristorante di Poggio Antico is located on the vineyard Poggio Antico and is run independently by Roberto Minnetti is another true fine dining experience in Tuscany. We enjoyed Lori’s birthday lunch out on the patio so much we returned with Josh and Kelly the next year for dinner inside. The firsts included traditional Tuscan bread salad and a foie gras accompanied by rock candy. Pasta was made in the house and had that marvelous texture you find only in homemade pasta. Wine choices are easy being as the house wine is Poggio Antico for lunch we had the light Rosso(very nice) and for dinner my favorite Brunello(Heavenly). The pork, lamb and fish mains all received universal accolades. The Minnetti’s made us feel very welcome and we will surely return as soon as possible.

Ristorante di Poggio Antico directly (phone/fax +39 0577 849200, email ristorantedipoggioantico@gmail.com).

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Palazzo del Capitano

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Located in the center of the small Tuscan town of San Quirico d’Orcia is this charming boutique hotel Palazzo dell Capitano. San Quirico is conveniently located near MONTALCINO, PIENZA, MONTEPULCIANO making it a nice hub for wine tasting. The room we stayed  in was rather large and decorated in a Tuscan fashion. In town, there are two wonderful restaurants (that I will review in a future post) one independently owned and one that is owned by the hotel.  Each morning at the hotel they put out a wonderful breakfast buffet including these awesome baked goods. I recommend after dropping your bags, parking outside of town and walking up the stairs. The Hotel did offer garage parking however it’s only large enough for a SMART car,LOL, I dented the side of our BMW trying to get it in. We both enjoyed our stay at Palazzo del Capitano and would highly recommend it to others.

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