Lunch in Florence – or where is Obelix when you need him?

My trip to Tuscany started in Florence and I was in search of an authentic Tuscan lunch experience when I stumbled upon Trattoria Marione in the Via del Sole where it meets the Via Della Spada. Close your eyes and conjure up seemingly cliched images of Italian eateries, think Lady and the Tramp, and you know what it looks like; small tables rammed into a series of interconnecting rooms, none of them quite on the same level, red and white check table clothes, salamis hanging over the bar, whicker covered Chianti flasks on the tables – containing wine though, not candles.

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Fine Dining – I contemplate the fine food gene

As readers of these pages may be aware, I travel a fair amount.

As a consequence I eat in all sorts of places and often on my own. You can read about some of the great places I have eaten here, here and here.

Eating out alone is an odd thing. It serves several purposes, only one of which is to feed yourself. The other, equally important reasons are; to experience the place and culture, to sample a particular cuisine or restaurant and, of course, to fill time and relax. The last reason is why, when alone I almost always end up in a proper sit down restaurant rather than going for the fast food option.

I have come to the conclusion that I am something of a shallow traveller. As soon as I know that I am going to a particular destination I start Googling restaurants there. Not attractions, not cultural sites – just restaurants and bars. Continue reading

Enjoying Valencia

P4240001Valencia is a terrific city, with a lovely leisurely feel and things of beauty and interest almost everywhere you look. I highly recommend a visit there, in particular the old centre is a wonderful place to idle away a sunny afternoon when you have nothing better to do than to drift from square to square, sampling the bars and watching the world go by.

The oval shaped Plaza de la Reina is especially delightful with the impressive cathedral of Santa Maria at one end and the rather exotic church tower of Santa Catalina at the other. In between is a beautiful space with grass and trees and bars all around, a perfect place to  refresh oneself with a caña of beer. I felt very much at home here and enjoyed it immensely, but man cannot live on beer alone, come 2.30 lunch beckoned! Continue reading