Torre di Pisa
It took me 6 Trips to Italy to finally make it to see one of the most famous Italian attractions of all, “The Leaning Tower of Pizza at the Piazza Miracoli. It was a research trip with my business partner Tom (Bar Cichetti). I was landing in Milan, we were going to meet in Florence and Tom and his associate at TJT were first going to Lago di Como, so I figured I’d take the train to the Italian Riviera and Cinque Terre, and would stay in the town of Vernaazza for two days before heading to Fierenze.
I had a nice time on the Cinque Terre, hiking to 4 of the 5 towns, eating, drinking local wine and having a great time as usual in Bella Italia. After my two days in Vernaazza was up, I’d be heading down to Florence to meet up with Tom and Maran. The train would be passing through Pisa, so I figured I just had to see the “Leaning Tower of Pisa,” if only this one time. So I figured, I’d catch an early train from Vernazza to Pisa, jump off the train for 2 1/2 hours, run over to the Piazza Miracoli and see the Torre di Pisa. And so I did, and I must say, though it is a bit touristy, it’s gorgeous and something you just have to see. And it’s not just the Tower of Pisa but the whole Piazza di Miracoli is beeautiful, including the Cathedral, The Baptistery next door to it, and of course la Torre.
And so I saw the leaning Tower of Pisa, I took pictures, I had a great time, I loved, and was so glad I did. I got on a local bus and headed toward the train station. I hopped on the next train to Florence, passing trhough Empoli and Prato along the way.
Florence , Italy
50 Via Leone, Firenze
Mamma with our BISTECA
The Dining Room
“One the Best Meals of My Life”
Mamma was absolutely awesome. We had Salumi, Crostini Toscano, and an awesome Bisteca Fiorentian, accompanied by a great bottle of Brunello, and Mamma brought over a nice selection of Grappa for us to choose from (Complimentary) to end our wonderful meal. But the meal wasn’t over. There was a famous artist eating there when we were. At the end of the night when there was just 2 tables left including ours, Mamma and her sister pushed all the tables together, and we had one big party. Yes, it was one of the times of my life, and a night and meal that I shall always remember.
Approaching Villa Calcinaia
CHIANTI CONTI CAPONI
Me having Lunch with the Conti Caponi
Sebastiano and Nicholas
GREVE , 1997
The GRAND HOTEL
An area in the Lobby
The GRAND HOTEL
Vigna dell Piave
OFF to VENICE
Piazza San MARCO
And MY VENICE
On The GRAND CANAL
Hanging with “El LUPO”
Arturo, one of Venice’s most Famou GONDOLIERE.
At BACARO VIVALDI
I had a great time at Osteria Vivaldi. The place had a great vibe at the bar, where I met and hung out with the Famous Venetian Gondeliere “IL Lupo” real name Arturo. Arturo was with a couple friends and we had fun drinking local wine (Cabernet Franc), eating Cichetti and chit chatting about this and that. I had a wonderful time, and I went back the next night so I could sit down in the small dining room where I ate Razor Clams and Spaghetti Nero (w/ Squid Ink).
My 1st TASTE of CICHETTI
My first major Italian Wine Connections came in 1996 when I took my second trip to research the Wine Bars (Bacari) of Venice, Cichetti, and Italian Wine. I made quite a lot of progress on my 1st Cichetti / Bacaro discovery trip to Venice, after I’d read that little article in the Sunday Travel section of The New York Times. It was that one little article on Venice and its wine bars called Bacaro (plural =s Bacari), meaning House of Bacchus, after the Roman God of Wine. At these Venetian Wine Bars, they served of course wine (mostly local) and small tidbits of food called Cichetti which are usually displayed behind glass cases on the bar. There is usually a wide assortment of at least 20 different items or more, on display and ready for consumption to go along with your wine. And speaking of wine, a glass of wine in these Venetian wine bars, is known as an Ombra, meaning shade in Latin, and getting the name through the fact that the fish, meat, and produce merchants around the Rialto Market, wanting to get out of the hot Sun of the outdoor market, would seek shade (Ombra) inside on of the many wine bars (Bacari) in the area.
The Bacari of Venice come in many shapes and forms, from some that are quite tiny like All’ Arco which was the 1st Bacaro that I ever went to. I had gotten off the train at Santa Lucia Stazione, and was lugging my bags, and looking for my hotel, when I stumbled upon All’ Arco. I spotted it and walked up to the barman, and asked if they had Cichetti. He greeted me with a smile, got me an Ombra (glass of Wine) and started handing me Cichetti. He gave me a crostini with Nervetti, one of the more unusual types of cichetti served, and one that mostly locals eat. Nervetti, it’s made of beef nerves, and this was my first. My first morsel of Cichetti, not one of my favorites. He then gave me one with Mantecato (whipped Salt Cod). Now this was more like it, “quite tasty.” I also had some Mussetto, which is a tasty Sausage made from Pigs Snout. “Yumm.” Well I had a great little intro into Cichetti and the wine bars of Venice, I was pumped up and I continued on my journey to get my hotel. This was 1995, there was no internet (well?) and things like Expedia and Booking.com did not exist. I was quite lucky when I saw the sign and stumbled upon the Albergo Gueratto (hotel). I spotted it, and popped my head inside and asked if they had any rooms. They did, and the price was right. I found this wonderful little hotel in 1995, on my special trip to explore the Bacari of Venice.
The Albergo Guerratto is set right in the middle of the famed Rialto Market, just a 200 foot walk out the door of the Guerratto. Make a left as you’re exiting the hotel. Guerratto is a very cool hotel with a great vibe. It’s run my two nice young couples, the room rates are very affordable, they serve a great breakfast in their cool old dining-room, and the location is perfect for your exploration of Venice.
I first spotted the Pnesione Guerrato when I walk down this small alleyway, the Calle drio la Scimia, right off of the Mercato Rialto, Venice, Italy.
I Love having my Breakfast in the cool old dining room
at PENSIONE GUERRATO
Book a Room at GUERRATO
We HIGHLY Recommend It for an Authentic Venetian Experience
An assortment of CICHETTI at ARCO
CICHETTI “The Namesake of My VENETIAN WINE BAR”
NEW YORK , NY
“AMERICA’S 1st Ever VENETIAN WINE BAR”
Created by Daniel Bellino Zwicke & Tom Taraci
220 Houston Street
New York, NY
The PARIS HOTEL FLORENCE
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