We arrived at our B&B mid-afternoon on Thursday. Bill made stellar accommodation choices for our week in Italy. I loved the Royal Victoria Hotel in Pisa, the self-catering apartment on the farm was simple and serene, and the Il Salotto di Firenze B&B in Florence is replete with proximity. Our lovely rooms were above a Gucci store, just yards away from the Piazza di San Giovanni and Piazza del Duomo, home of the Baptistry and the Cathedral. And it didn’t hurt that the B&B was run by a young Italian hottie named Alessandro.

After a bit of rest, we wandered about, taking in the evening, and then went to dinner at Trattoria Marione for some traditional Tuscan fare, including pork stuffed with rosemary and a carrot and ribollita, a vegetable and bread soup. This meal introduced us to some new favorites. I ordered “cheese and mustard,” not knowing exactly what I would get, but betting on the steadfast goodness of cheese. [Even cheese that you are warned against in France.] The cheese was indeed good–three triangles of Pecorino Tuscano, a slightly softer version of Pecorino Romano–served with honey and fruit mustard. Fruit mustard is a jelly spiked with mustard powder, available in many flavors. It was wonderful with the Pecorino.

We had seen plates piled high with small biscotti, called cantuccini, and carafes of golden vin santo being served to a large party of 35 or so dining nearby. We also ordered cantuccini and vin santo and with our platter of crunchy cookies and sweet wine, I felt we were participating in the same ritual of fellowship and feasting that brings us back again and again to the table. Plus, it’s the perfect dessert after a huge meal.

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