Margaret, Joyce and I left the Villa for Florence on Friday, where we spent the night before a morning flight home on Saturday. The others will hopefully take the same flight on Sunday. Finding Hertz was no picnic, but otherwise we had an easy drive. Once we had the car returned and had taxied back to our hotel (an odd little place called “Golden Tulip Mirage” about 2 km from the airport, where all the newspapers are in Chinese and the bartender will be happy to give you lots of ice cubes in a plastic bag and even open a bottle of wine for no fee, but there is hardly anything you’d call a dining room), we were mightily hungry. It was about 4 pm and we hadn’t had lunch. Of course we had no car, so we set out on foot.
The first place we tried was closed, not to open again until 7:30. Ah yes, the Italian siesta. A few other places looked to be in that same situation. But we spotted a gelateria and bar – why not? The bar was also semi-closed, but Joyce asked nicely and the proprietor agreed to fix us some pasta – aglio olio for Margaret and me, and spaghetti with butter and cheese for Joyce. Ramon turned out to be both beautiful and charming, a doctor from Catalan who volunteers for Doctors Without Borders when he is not in his bar (he owns it with a partner). He speaks seven languages, including a very good American English, since he lived in the States for a while.
He decided we should have Catalan creme for dessert. It came doused in pure grain alcohol which was set on fire and burned for a long time. Ramon forbade us to eat it until the flames had gone out on their own, by which time it was warm and crispy on top. Absolutely delicious! But that was not enough; he also brought us over two shots of Anis (the Spanish version of anisette), one each for Joyce and me, and a shot of something else for Margaret (I can’t remember what at the moment). The Anis was milder than Sambuca and very good. (Ramon says you can’t get this anywhere but Spain, but I found it at Total Wine in Pinecrest – at least the sweeter version with the red label. There is a dryer version with a green label which I did not find.) We thought we should take a picture of the shot for Bonell, since he swears no one pours water into a shot glass (which they did in Florence) and this proves him at least half right.
And here is Ramon’s bar in Florence, near the Golden Tulip Mirage hotel. Thanks for the pix, Margaret.