The first day is always the hardest.
We arrived in Florence at about 10am, long after leaving JFK at 4:20pm, with a brief stop in Paris. This connection was not ideal. First off, we landed in Paris at about 11:30 our time, so there was simply no sleeping on that leg before having to get on the shorter flight to Florence. Additionally, I really dislike CDG airport. It's a mess, and we decided we're never going to Paris again because of it. au revoir.
Now that I have that off my chest.
Needless to say, we went down for a nap immediately after checking in to our hotel, which was right in the middle of everything, right across the street from Piazza dell Repubblica (and down the street from The Hard Rock Cafe). A few hours later, bleary-eyed and really hungry, we went off to find some food.
I had done quite a bit of research on restaurants and, as I do, set up a "my google map" with the names/notes/etc. This is a really handy way of organizing your travel options, by the way. Since we brought my mom along on this trip, we made sure we did some of the more touristy things, like walking over Ponte Vecchio (which I had forgot is just a bunch of jewelry shops) and shopping for leather gloves. Around the corner was Trattoria 4 Leoni.
Truth be told I wanted to go to Osteria Tripperia il Magazzino for, you guessed it, tripe, but the ladies weren't all that thrilled with jumping right into the organ meat. So 4 Leoni it was.
4 Leoni is set right on a nice little piazza, with spacious outdoor seating. Very pleasant service, which is something we've seen in Italy time and time again.
We jumped into the food immediately, immediately after ordering that bottle of Chianti of course.
The bread in northern Italy is atrocious, as you might know. It's just awful. It's not made with salt. It's dry. It's bland. And they make you pay for it whether you like it or not. Unless you're putting olive oil and salt on it (which I highly recommend) or a slice of lardo (which I even more highly recommend), don't fill up on it.
But we tried some bread for laughs, and then it was pasta all around.
Fresh pasta with truffles. We thought the dish was a bit "dry" and could have used a bit more in the way of "sauce," but other than that it was spot on. No shortage of truffles here.
My mother is not an adventurous eater and went with a pasta pomodoro. Fresh pasta with tomatoes and cheese. Completely fine, but not something that excites me.
What does excite me is organ meat. Organ meat friggin' excites me. So I went full Florentine and got the Trippa alla Fiorentina, which translates I believe to "a bowl of tripe you muthafuckas!"
This is a great dish, and done quite well at 4 Leoni. The tripe pretends it's pasta, but pasta that tastes like meat. It's like having a pasta with meat sauce but without having pasta or meat. It's pretty incredible stuff. I forget if I did, but I sure hope I ordered this dish again. It would have been a sin to not.
Boboli Garden is right around the corner, and I foolishly decided we should take a walk to the top and explore. That's a lot of steps, and we were still in pretty bad shape from the long flight. But from the top, you can get a decent view of the city on one side, and rural Tuscany on the other.
Trattoria 4 Leoni : Via de' Vellutini, 1r, 50125 Firenze, Italy