By Vivian Farmer
FLORENCE, Italy– “Do you like frogs?”
That is how my conversation with Francesco Giannini began. Giannini has been making decorated papers by hand at Johnsons & Relatives since the 70s and when I spoke to him, he was drawing frogs. Unsatisfied with his drawings, Giannini took a break to talk to me.
Giannini and I chatted about Florence (“Too many people”), good areas to visit around Florence (in Arezzo there is fresco of the pregnant Virgin Mary for which “there are no words”) and inevitably, food.
“It’s difficult to eat in Florence because so many of the restaurants cater to tourists.” Those words were barely out of my mouth before Giannini was carefully writing down his favorite places to eat at.
Le Mossacce, Via del Proconsolo: right around the corner from the Duomo yet sometimes difficult to find. Locals come here for lunch and dinner but it is closed on weekends. It’s cozy inside and serves traditional Florentine food.
Sergio Gozzi, Piazza di San Lorenzo: unusual because it is only open for lunch. When the stalls of the San Lorenzo market used to cover the street, the restaurant was hidden and only workers went there. “Don’t order pasta, get their soups,” Giannini said.
Sostanza, Via del Porcellana: good for dinner, the tables are long and on one side of you “there’s the plumber, on the other, Steven Spielberg.” It seems that all socioeconomic classes share the tables for a bite of Florentine steak or, Giannini’s favorite chicken breast cooked in butter. “You will thank me if you order it,” Giannini said.
Perché no, Via dei Tavolini: Perché no, literally “why not”, is a gelateria that has been in business since the 30s. “My mother took me here when I was a kid,” Giannini said. They have delicious peach and mixed fruit flavors and “their pistachio is not green,” proving it is made from scratch, Giannini said, and is thus a cream or yellowish color.