by Melinda Gallo

Un posto romantico fuori città

I used to think that having a car was a bit overrated. They are absolutely necessary in California: you can't go to the grocery store without a car even if it's around the corner. In Florence, I'm completely happy walking around and I'm able to get everywhere I want without any problems. However, when Alessandro took me to a restaurant above Bagno a Ripoli, in a place called Rimaggio, I started to think that having a car would be nice: I'd be able to admire my beloved city from afar as well.

They say that you can't appreciate a city if you spend too much time in it without leaving it, but I disagree: I fall in love again with Florence at least once a week and sometimes even more often. By walking past the front of the Duomo at night, crossing a bridge and looking at the Arno or Ponte Vecchio from afar, or walking into one of my favorite churches like Orsanmichele or San Miniato, my heart skips a beat.

Alessandro had taken me past this restaurant, La Gargotta, before and told me, "È un posto molto romantica dove si mangia bene." (It's a very romantic spot where you eat well.) And finally, many weeks later, he took me there for dinner.

I didn't know where he was going to take me (and he didn't either) when he picked me up at my place tonight at 9PM for dinner. I got in the car and he asked me where I'd like to go apart from Chinese because there was a problem with a few restaurants many years ago and he still can't bring himself to go.

Suddenly he came up with an idea and called the restaurant and asked, "Non avete mica un tavolo per due? Sì, fra 15 minuti." (You don't happen to have a table for two? Yes, in 15 minutes.)

I didn't ask where we were going, but I was hoping for the romantic restaurant. It wasn't until we got to Bagno a Ripoli that I knew exactly where we were going. I smiled, but didn't say anything because it would've ruined the surprise he had in store for me.

We sat out on the terrazza (terrace) where we could see Florence in the distance and below us with the sun still glowing behind the hills on the other side of the city. The sky was beautifully lit with reds, purples, and dark blues.

We ordered crostini misti alla Gargotta to start off our meal. Alessandro and I both don't eat la pastasciutta (pasta) for dinner. He ordered a tagliata con funghi porcini (sliced beef with porcini mushrooms) and I ordered a filetto alla griglia (grilled filet of beef). As contorno (side dish), we both ordered il cartoccio con patate e funghi porcini (potatoes and porcini mushroms cooked in foil).

Alessandro ordered a bottle of Sicilian red wine, whose alcohol content we realized was 14% after we finished off the bottle. I always think wine is strong as it takes so little to make me tipsy.

I kept looking out at the view whenever I had a chance. The Duomo looked so majestic that it made me long even more for my city.

We were also treated to the fuochi d'artificio (fireworks) in Fiesole for the Festa di San Romolo a Fiesole (Fiesole's saint's day) that we could see in the distance. They were pretty spectacular and Alessandro told me that it's even more amazing in Fiesole because they set off the fuochi d'artificio all around the rather small piazza.

We finished our meal with dessert. I had la mousse di cheesecake (cheesecake mousse) and he had la torta al cioccolato con pinoli (chocolate cake with pine nuts).

I enjoyed our meal and the posto (location) a lot. It was nice to eat a delicious meal with my favorite person overlooking my favorite city. Sometimes, I just want to pinch myself.

I thought about how great it would be to have a car until Alessandro had to look for a parking spot near my apartment. And then I also remembered that besides the parking difficulties in centro, I'd also be required to get a patente (driver's license) since my American one isn't valid after being a resident in Italy over a year.

For now, I'm happy with my fidanzato (boyfriend) who drives me to these posti romantici outside of Florence. I appreciate him, my beloved city, and my car-less existence in Florence.

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