May 2 - 17, 2002

We visited museums, churches, and beautiful sites throughout the visit. We also paced our sight-seeing around leisurely meals in nice restaurants. Barbara Bloch asked me if we generally ate our main meal at midday or at night during this trip. Hmm….Tough question… We seemed to need two main meals a day, as well as the breakfast provided at our hotel, plus the occasional mid-afternoon break for a cappuccino or macchiato or hot cioccolate as well. Only occasionally did this break include a pastry.

The Minutillo brothers are both pretty good cooks; three of our group grew up in Italian families in which food was very important.; Dorothy has a keen palate and can discern subtle flavorings and herbs. So on this trip we had lively discussions about each course of each meal - comparisons and critiques. Usually we sampled each other’s plates - except when Richard didn’t want to. Often we shared antipasti or contorni .


So here’s who ate what when and where … as best I can decipher from the scrawls in Italian and English in my tiny notebook.


Friday May 3, 2002

Restaurant across from Gran Hotel Duomo - within view of Leaning tower

Gnocchi a la caprese fresh tomatoes and mozarella ( MM) - light and fresh - good first meal in Italy.

Riboletta (M) thick soup of vegetables and bread - hearty - very Tuscan.


Saturday May 4th

Trattoria Acadia on the street near our Hotel Monna Lisa: Via Borgo Pinto; nice neighborhood restaurant, wide menu and good service.

We all shared Antipasto - which was excellent; zuppa de farro (R ) - a cream thick soup - smooth and tasty - made with farro (whatever that is); pork roast (M); spaghetti (D).

Sunday, May 5th

Richard & Dorothy went to the airport to recover D"s lost passport. We all met back at the Hotel at 2 pm only to find out that restaurants generally close their lunch service at 2:30. Not wanting to miss any opportunity to have a complete meal during this limited visit to Italy, we rushed out and thankfully located a trattoria nearby - nothing special - but we were able to have:

Armed with the knowledge about limited hours of service for lunch we worried that we wouldn’t find a suitable (read in good) place for the evening meal. On this first day in Florence we became almost obsessed with ensuring that we could find a restaurant open somewhere in Florence that would take us for dinner before 9 o’clock at night. Our Wonder Woman with Class - Grazie assured that while some restaurants do close on Sunday to be with family, many also are open for guests. He suggestion was in short walking distance to Piazza de Santa Croce with a lovely church of Santa Croce which looked on to a spacious piaza. People say and I believe that Italians like to have Sunday with family. - either at a family home or with a group at a restaurant., and while that may be true, we found many of our countrymen out and about on this pleasantly cool evening. They were taking a passagatta and taking the air. After making the rounds of our immediate neighborhood , we asked our trusty Grazie, who seemed to be at serious work from her perch at the front desk.

Italians did go out and there were fine places for our group. Grazie suggested a small trattoria nearby, but we still wanted to eat well. So Grazie got us a reservation at I Franciscani - a really good trattoria near the iglesia.

The meal was memorable - and this time we really over-indulged.

Monday May 6th

Lunch in the town of Fiesole - about half an hour drive into the hills out of Florence. Restaurant Cave di Maino was wonderful. We ate on the terrace. Excellent meal in a peaceful setting.

Sauteed spinach, bruschetta , antipastoToscano (a selection of prosciutto, salami and other cold cuts) - all very good.

Main courses were:

A nice touch - the waiter brought limoncello to D and me and grappa to Bobby and Richard..

Tuesday May 6

This was our day for the Uffizi Gallery - we had reservations for a 2 pm entrance and had to get in line about 1:30 - so our meals were somewhat limited this day. We had breakfast at the hotel as usual and then a little snack at an outdoor café within sight of the Piazza Navona which is next to the Uffizi. Just as well that we were prepared for an extraordinary meal that evening. The Cibreo on Via A. Del Verocchio 8 (tell 055 234 1100) is truly memorable. We had noted it in our guidebooks and I also had a recommendation from my seatmate on the flight from London to Pisa. Once again our hotel desk person Grazie, managed to get us reservations for the early seating. The Cibreo is a well appointed dining room - quality linens and silver. But the unique qualities of the place began as soon as we were seated and our first staff member sat down with us at the table.

Chris, an American guy (the restaurant has nationals from several countries to "talk" people through the menu possibilities), sat down to tell us about the dishes being offered that evening and made suggestions.

Meanwhile, during this lively discussion, we were served a complementary white wine - of decent quality I will note (Angelini Simposio). This process was not easy as we tried to vary our choices, partake of the specialties and still create a complete dining experience of three course selections which made palatable balance. We settled on first courses of

For main courses we had :

But - before any of the above was served we were treated to some lovely appetizers - among the best we had in Italy. Small portions of at least seven were placed before us - along with some appropriate breads - potato rolls with appetizers and bread sticks and crusty bread with the main course.


We chose as our dinner wine a Nobile de Montpulciano

A healthy - interesting - and memorable meal - -- so we decided that we would forego any dessert.

But that was before Amanda (or was it Lucia?) joined us to describe the "sweets" she recommended to top off the evening. Everything had been perfect so far, so Minnie and Richard gave in to the temptation and pronounced that we should sample something to have a full picture of the restaurant’s overall quality. More discussion…. And a rejection by Minnie of the highly recommended flourless chocolate cake… He noting that he didn’t think the restaurant’s offering could compare to his grappa chocolate cake! We settled on two mousses - one chocolate and one vanilla with strawberry pure and raspberries. Not to be outdone, however, Amanda/Lucia with a flourish presented Minnie with the Cibreo’s signature flourless chocolate cake…. "a challenge" she said.

What a gastronomic event ! Somewhat pricey (about $284 for four) but very fine, the Cibreo was a highlight of our Italy dining experiences.

Wednesday May 7

Rainy day - we postponed our day trip to Siena and decided to have an easy day. Leisurely breakfast in the beautiful Monna Lisa dining room.

We had fast food - Italian style - at a lunch place near the Duomo. Our selections were risotto with shrimp, chicken kebobs with roasted potatoes and peas. Not bad for the price!

Supper with Richard & Dorothy was at the nearby Arcadia Trattoria (Via Borgo Pinto 56)

Polpetinni w. eggplant (we asked the waiter what kinds of meats were in these delicate light morsels… the waiter said just beef - hard to believe…)

Fruit Macedonia & crème caramel for dessert


Thursday, May 8

Lunch at the Trattoria il Saraceno - Via Mazzini 3 a - a real find a few blocks from the Basilica di S. Francesco where we saw Piero della Francisco’s Legend of the True Cross…


This picturesque, hilltop town was our home for three nights. Hotel Perusia e la Villa on Via Eugubina 42 this modern non-descript place had wonderful views - we could even see the town of Assisi on a good day.

Our meals here ranged from average/not so good (the meal at our hotel restaurant was probably the least good we had during the trip) to quite good and luscious … including the hot chocolate and Baci ( Perugia is the home of the famous Perugina brand chocolates!) .

Supper at the hotel - fixed price of E - 21. First courses were - Antipasti of smoked fish and something else?? capalocci with truffle sauce, pasta with fish, spaghetti with meat sauce, and a bean soup ; main course - Dorothy and I had what we understood was to be duck (but really was chicken) - we think, Minnie and Richard had veal with pepper sauce and sautéd vegetables, potatos w. rosemary.

Good white Orvieto wine.

Despite a mix up in the order of bringing our meal selections… the wine was good and we slept very well.  


Breakfast in the hotel - okay - but after the luxury of our Florentine Hotel villa dining room, fine service and breakfast array, this was a poor second.

Lunch was on the main Coroso - at an outdoor touristy place - slow and mediocre. The waiter tried to over charge us for the chicken salad, pizza, polenta, risotto. None the less - the location was pleasant.

We walked to the vista at the top of the Corso - and overlooked the countryside from the hilltop of Perugia, went into a Baci chocolate shop - where the snooty attendant made it difficult to make any purchases. (I did buy a couple of chocolates; D & R walked out.)

D & R did laundry; Minnie and I walked along the street from our hotel to the nearby church … took shelter from the rain and watched the people.

Supper was in the Centro Storico - we parked the car in the multi level garage, took the elevator to the next street level and walked to the Café di Perugia near Palazzi de Priori. Totl cost was Euros 89 for good house red wine, smoked salmon and eggplant timbale; cold cuts and bruscheta; watercress, pears and pecorino - first course - which we shared. Main courses followed: tagiolini w. tomato and shrimp, gnocchi with shrimp, grilled salmon, vegetable soup Umbrian style… Excellent meal - on the second floor of this classic café - which on the first floor has a coffee and tea shop and pastries counter, and two restaurants on the second floor. Our table looked out over the entrance and pastry and deli section. All very shiny, mirrored and elegant. We ended with coffee.

Parking in this garage - which we used regularly while in and out of Perugia cost E 8 for the day and E 2.80 at night.


Up early - 7:30am - have breakfast in the Hotel at 8:30 and prepare for a day trip to Siena.

Take Route A1 for about 96 kilometers through nice countryside with picturesque villas on rolling hills.


We parked on the street at the entrance to the Roman gate and walked to Piazza del Campo - the scallop shaped plaza where the Palio is held each year. To the Duomo - built in 1139 with its singular white and black stone, very ornate both outside and in - elaborate pulpit sculpted by Pisano, Donatello’s St. John the Baptist, ceiling of blue with stars. This cathedral was to have been even larger and work had begun on another transept when the Black Death raged through the city killing 70,000 people and halting all work.

We had lunch on the go - sandwiches from a deli. Then back to the Opera del Duomo adjacent to the Cathedral to see the fabulous Duccio painting of the Madonna and scenes of the life of Christ. The first floor of the museum has sculptures - with the Donatello Madonna & Child.

Stop for ice cream on the Piazza del Campo at one of the out door cafes ringing the famous Piazza.

Dorothy & Richard go to the museum and Minnie and I search for a pastry shop to have a macciato and biscotti.

Leave Siena at about 6 pm for the drive back to Perugia - some rain, but another perspective of the lovely views - in the sunset. We go directly to the Centro Storico garage - take the elevator to the street and find a welcoming neighborhood type Trattoria within view called Antica de la Volte. Another fine and simple meal - of Penne w. melanzanne, tomato and ricotta salata; tagiolini w. ragu; tortellini sapori w. crème; risotto w. fungi. Mixed salads and green salads. Plus a cooked vegetable for Richard. The bill was Euros 48 - including house wine.



Check out of Hotel Perusia e la Ville - 3 nights cost us each E 370.

Major summit about whether to go to another town enroute to Rome. News is that there are demonstrations and street closings in the Centro Storico area of Rome - calling into questions our plan to drive to our hotel there. Telephone calls to the Hotel in Rome, to the car rental place, further discussions, and a decision. We decide to leave Perugia -directly for Rome, leave the car and take a taxi to the hotel (taxis are allowed - despite street closings.) A good plan.

Gas the car up the car and we’re off to Rome at 11:30 am. Arrive at the Europcar location on Via Lombardi 7 near the Via Veneto at 2 pm. Just before they close! Taxi to the Hotel Genio on Via G. Zarnardelli near Piazza Navona. (Taxi Euros 14). Check in to rooms 402 and 410 (R &D).

The sun is shining in Rome and we walk the two blocks to the Piazza Navonna to have a pizza and beer at the Don Quixote Café where our loquacious waiter Fabrizio charged us E 48 (but that included double beers for Richard and Minnie) and we got to drink in the Baroque beauty of Saint Agnes church, and the famous fountains of Boromini and Bernini at either end of the long piazza.

Sunday nights - many restaurants close in Rome - as they do in Florence and throughout Italy. However, the Passetto Restaurant across from the Hotel was open and excellent! For E 142 for 4 people we had excellent tortellini en brodo (M), minestrone ®, artichoke and prosciutto (Dorothy and I ), and then black pasta w. salmon (D), lamb with potatoes (Richard) , picatta of veal w. limone (M) and veal with mushrooms (MM). To end the meal we shared two desserts - black and white mousse and a tiramisu.

On the house … we got limoncello and biscotti and chocolates! No wonder this restaurant became a favorite.

MONDAY MAY 13, 2002

Breakfast in the hotel - cramped unadorned room - with a variety of breads, hams, cheese, and fruit.

Lunch??? Perhaps our walk along the river to St. Peter’s Square, our tour of the Vatican Museum ending with the magnificent Sistine Chapel, our visit to St. Peter’s all overshadowed anything we ate on our first full day in the Eternal City. … Aha ! I have found a notation that we walked back along the river through busy and noisy Rome traffic and popped into a shop to buy stand up pizzas and coca colas to eat on the street.

Supper at the Antica Taberna di Paolo & Michele on Via Monti Giordano 12. Like a small town tratoria on a narrow alley like street, this tratoria we had 2 antipasti: one consisting of variety of Italian cold cuts and cheeses, and the other vegetables - eggplant, zucchini and cauliflower and followed with main courses of

Also side dishes of cooked spinach, escarole, roast potatoes.

Cost: E 81 for 4 people.


Walk to the Forum area of the city, stopping along the way to sample pastries - - pizelle like cookies called Ferratelle Abuzzesi and biscotti called Tozzeti Siciliani.

Supper at Hostaria Piccola Romeo on Via Uffici del Vicarious #36 next to the well-known ice cream shop called Giolitti. Antipasti for 4 - self serve from a large array of offerings - zucchini, two or three kinds of eggplant, fungi, spinach and oil, etc.

Excellent meal - cost for four people E 100.

Walk to Fontana di Trevi - huge - fountain - hundreds of people in in the small piazza on this warm Rome night.

WEDNESDAY May 15, 2002

Breakfast in hotel

Dorothy and I go shopping near Spanish Steps - for shoes at Casuccio & Scalera on Via Frattina 47, handbags at Francesco Rogani on Via dei Condotti 47.


Our final joint meal in Italy with Richard & Dorothy we went to our now favorite across from hotel - Passetto Ristorante where we sat under the awning for a leisurely lunch of :

(check it out on the web at casa/

We finished with coffee and the nice biscotti w. almonds - a trademark of the restaurant - and lumbered across to our hotel for a rest! 

Evening: just a refreshing passionate to the Giolitti ice crème shop to sit outside and watch well-dressed Romans gather for drinks and conversations - with each other and via their ubiquitous cell phones. We had Hazelnut ice cream - called noccio, Siciliani canolli, and sfoletti (a pastry).

Strolled a bit more and Richard and Dorothy walked back to the Hotel to pack for their early morning departure.

Minnie and I returned to the neighboring streets we decided we would like to take up residence - near Via de Portuguese near the Alfredo Restaurant. Italian delicatessens, salumerias and classic meat shops. We decided we needed something more before calling it a night and found a bakery which had looked inviting - it was crowded with people getting breads on their way home - and nearly closing time. We got in line and picked out thick slices of pizza to eat on the narrow street.


Back to Italy 2002


This document written by Maryann Minutillo and page maintained by rgm at
Material Copyright © 2002.