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Visita il Mugello, culla dei Medici, a due passi da Firenze e le bellezze toscane

Travellers in Tuscany




You are back at the hotel in thirty minutes. You have walked a long way today and your feet are a little sore. You push the heavy wooden door open and you walk into a small enclosed courtyard . The black wrought iron door that leads into the lobby is open. The building is cool and dark. There is a different young girl sitting at the table. She smiles at you as you walk in. You ask if they have any ice cream. She sees you are hot and asks if you would like some special ice cream . Special. The word intrigues you. Yes,of course,you reply. She then goes on to tell you about Vivoli, a small gelateria that is reputed to be the best in Italy and subsequently the best in the world. For some reason the idea of having the best ice cream in the world right now seemed like the best thing you could be doing. Call me a taxi, you say to the girl. How long until supper, you ask. An hour she replies. Plenty of time.

The taxi arrives in a minute. You jump in and simply say Vivoli. The driver nods his head in acknowledgement. In five minutes you are there. You tell him to wait and he smiles. You think he has done this before. The place is small and there is an L-shaped cooler with possibly twenty flavours of ice cream. You have a choice of sizes.You pick the 5000 lira container . About half a pint. Oh which to choose. You point to the richest looking chocolate. The lady behind the counter scoops out a scoopfull and fills about a third of the cup. You decide to be adventuresome and try some limona and pistachio, neither flavor you are familiar with. She quickly fills up the cup. They are generous here. Your cup overflows. She stuffs in a spoon and hands it to you. She is smiling and she looks genuinely pleased to be giving you this little treat , as if she knows this is going to be special for you. You go with the chocolate first. You lift the spoon to your mouth and then just a little higher so you can get a whiff of a totally new kind of chocolate. It is chocolate but nothing like the chocolate that you knew. You inhale through your nose and a bell rings in the back of your head as the flavour registers. It was like the chocolate ice cream that you had as a young child, maybe four or five years old, when it was special and new. You put the small spoonful into your mouth. You have one thought. This has been the only time that you can remember when what you got was as good as what you were expecting. The flavor explodes in your mouth and you scarsely believe what you are tasting. The other two flavors cannot possibly be as good. Ah, but already the next mouthful no matter what flavor could never be as good as the first. It will taste almost,very nearly,exactly like the first but it wont have the same oomph. It was your very last first time. You try the limona and the contrast in taste works very well on the palette from the sweet to the slightly sour. The pistachio proved to be somewhere in the middle.

You get back into the cab and in another five minutes you are at the hotel. You are still eating when you walk into the lobby. The young girl sitting at the desk greets you with a big smile . Well, she says, how much do you like it? I knew what she meant to say but the assuredness of quality was apparent. She knew it was good. You finish off the last mouthful and tell her that it is truly the best ice cream you have ever tasted. Thank you for telling me about it, you say. Her smile widens when you say this and she is delighted by your statement.
Its time for a nap. You walk up the stairs and you are impressed by the fine looking furniture and art on the landing of the first floor. There are paintings on the wall all the way up. You make your way to your floor. The double doors to your room are at least eight feet high and you are impressed by the sculpted door handles. Actually, you have been impressed by a lot of things today.



Text by Bryen Lebar
Picture by Carlo Santoni

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