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tedgale Mar 28th, 2007 03:06 PM

Paris, Florence and Rome, March 11-27: Tedgale trip report
Jet lag will likely fell me before I get too much of this written. I plan to add posts as energy and time permit.

High points/ recommendations:

Florence apartment: we rented through Residenza il Carmine, via Ardiglione on the Oltrarno very near the Carmine church.

About 5 doors from where I had lived for a few months in the early 70s(!) -- under conditions far less opulent than what awaited us at the Carmine.

Huge, bright, spotless, well furnished apartment ("Domus", their largest) on a quiet garden courtyard. Beyond the French doors, a magnolia was in full blossom. Beamed ceilings, "cotto" floors. Many antiques -- but fully modern bath(s) and kitchen.

Charming owner -- though we did not see much of anyone or anything, as the place seemed not very full. Suited our penchant for privacy -- though others might want more personal attention.

We got this jewel for a heavily discounted rate: an incredible 79 Euros a night.

Best dinner: Ristoro di Cambi, just west of there in the via San Onofrio (just off Borgo San Frediano).

Indebted to a Fodors poster for this brilliant suggestion. These handsome rooms are always packed, often with boisterous parties of Florentines. Very simple, direct trattoria cooking with fine, fresh ingredients. Favourite dish: the Antipasto misto del banco -- prosciutto, salami, mortadella, carciofi, porcini and sun-dried tomatoes. With contorni and a litre of house wine but no dessert, about 50 E for 2.

Simpler and less polished but still adequate for a good, plain meal: the nearby Trattoria del Carmine.

Favourite sites:
Church of San Lorenzo -- breathtaking in its purity, after rather too much high-renaissance and baroque doodads elsewhere

The climb to the Fortezza de Belvedere on a warm Sunday -- on descending to the city walls, we had lunch at Bevo Vino, a small, hip-looking wine bar.

More to follow...

missypie Mar 29th, 2007 06:06 AM

My family loved Florence. We want to go back!

tedgale Mar 29th, 2007 04:44 PM

Okay, a bit about Paris:

Friends lent us their pied-a terre in the rue du Cherche-midi. We determined to eat in the neighbourhood, whenever possible.

Reviews and recommendations:

L'Epi Dupin, rue Dupin:

Curiously enough, this restaurant is terrifically popular both with Parisians and with tourists, especially Japanese tourists. The place was packed.

Organ meats seem to be a mainstay. I had not expected to make a meal of pig's ears plus, as a main course, crepinette de queue et ris de veau (i.e. veal tail and pituitary glands).

Not a bad combination. But:

This place is just too popular -- the personal touch has long vanished. No, I would not likely return.

Restaurant Midi vins, rue du Cherche-midi:

Quite the contrast. Real local joint. The set menu is a mere 21 Euros and the locals flock there. We feasted on:

Salade de seiches a la provencale with concasee de tomates/ Caviare d'aubergines a l'ail

Osso buco with tagliatelle/ Andouillette grillee normande with puree of potatoes

Creme brulee/ Diplomate au chocolat

Then went back a few nights later for a completely different menu, based on what was in the market that day, ie "selon les arrivages".

Only negative:

Who said smoking has been banned in Paris restaurants? This place has an exemption or the charming owners are flagrant scofflaws.

An out of the neighbourhood choice -- Les Chineurs, rue de Bretagne (metro Reaumur-Sebastopol):

As fashion and its gay vanguard have moved north from the southern Marais to the northern regions of the 3e arrondissement, so the restaurant scene has moved north.

Les Chineurs is a store-front restaurant in the rue de Bretagne. Assiduous service, totally French/ local clientele. Fine, flavourful fixed price menu at 28 Euros, including amuse-gueule and chocolate truffles (even if you order no dessert, as we did not). Nice people, nice food and an attractive setting.

We went back later for lunch -- equally good. Favourite dish: Ample souris d'agneau (on the bone) flanked by two "lines" of fig ratatouille. Much better than it sounds....

AnselmAdorne Mar 30th, 2007 06:14 AM

"selon les arrivages" ... this is why dining in France is such a pleasure.

About the smoking: if I remember correctly, the anti-smoking law is being rolled out in two phases. Smoking in offices and public buildings was banned early this year; the prohibition is to be extended to restaurants next year. In the meantime, they are all supposed to offer a non-smoking section.

About rue de Bretagne, our fellow poster fishee was the one who drew my attention to it when she reported on that small apartment on rue de Saintonge. There is unquestionably a sense of neighbourhood there, and you're right, it is a changing area.

And speaking of changing neighbourhoods, if you dip back into our trip report you'll see that Margriet, my wife, has written about three resturants we went to in the 11th and 12th. Very intriguing areas ...

I hope you have time to post more.


tedgale Mar 31st, 2007 05:51 AM

Rome apartment rental:
In Rome, we stayed in a great apartment that we rented through, though it is also listed on one or two conventional commercial sites. The apartment's listing-number on is: 74310.

The apartment is located just north of Piazza del Popolo, in via Cesare Beccaria. We were initially a little doubtful about renting outside the historic centre or the "Tridente" area, as we know and love both those neighbourhoods. But in fact we were only 3 minutes walk from the P. del P., the apex (or whatever) of the Tridente -- and we were 1 block from the Tiber!

The building is a 40s or 50s apartment house of some 6 storeys and obviously a place of some cachet. Friendly and helpful Sri Lankan doorman, always eager to talk about the current cricket playoffs.

Ours was a 900 sq ft penthouse with a narrowish wrap-around terrace overlooking the street corner. There was a second balcony (off the main bedroom) that overlooked the courtyard and other gardens and gave a thin sliver-view of the river.

For light, space, cleanliness and quiet, the flat could not be rivalled.

The owners live in an even larger penthouse next door but we never saw them -- the husband was abroad and we spoke to him (just to say hello) by phone.

The decor was a little old-fashioned, I admit, but the place was well-furnished with ample seating and a dining table for 6. Efficient windowed kitchen. Two baths -- one small, the other large, with a window and lined with marble.

I'd guess the doors, floors, baths and kitchen were redone in the late 80s or 90s.

Main bedroom (there are 2) was not at all large but there was very ample storage -- the whole apartment was exceptional in that respect.

Other pluses: 3 minutes to buses and the A Line subway; a good little groceteria even closer than that...

We got a discounted March rate: 1 week, 2 occupants, $1500 USD.

So when I see posters on Fodors asking whether they will be able to find a "decent" hotel room for 200E -- or 300E -- or 400E (which staggers me), I feel inclined to swagger a bit.

More later on Rome discoveries, including restaurants.....

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