Crossing the Arno river to the south side of Florence we discovered a whole new town where tourists were a rare sighting, locals roamed the streets and the real Florence came to life. I myself have been guilty of focusing most of my trips to Florence on the North side where most of the tourist destinations are located. This time, having already checked off all the major tourist must-do’s including the Uffizzi and Duomo we were ready to see what more Florence had in store. The vast beautiful gardens of Giardino de Boboli and Bardini are a peaceful escape from the heat not to mention extremely beautiful. But as most of the nomad’s journeys, we were in search of a true tuscan meal. Walking around the gardens we eventually made our way to Alla Vechia Bettola, a cozy, home-style tuscan restaurant with a large local following.
We arrived quiet early in the evening. Unbeknownst to us, the restaurant was still closed and the staff were around a large table eating their dinner prior to opening. We walked in on them feasting away at the same delicious food that would later be served to us. We apologized for the intrusion in the little Italian we had picked up through our journey and turned around and walked back outside. We sat waiting for them to open their doors. Embarrassed to be the first eager diners at the restaurant I pointed to my belly and attempted to explain that we were very hungry. Minutes later a gentle server came to welcome us in. The old tuscan man and wife team were there chatting away with every customer that walked in the door. Most diners appeared to be local regulars. The restaurant filled up within minutes making us thankful for having arrived early. We quickly ordered and were served with glasses of the house wine. I really wish I could have ordered everything off the menu as everything that came out of the kitchen looked divine. But sadly there is only so much a hungry duo can eat. We started off with a prosciutto and melon salad to start. It was the real thing. Fresh pieces of lemon and local cured prosciutto. For our main entrees we ordered the cheese penne and macaroni with wild boar. Both dishes were absolutely amazing and the closest thing to real italian cooking that the two of us will ever get to. Our meal was so good that the Count considered ordering a second meal and when realizing that wasn’t a realistic option suggested we go back the next day before leaving Florence.
I hesitate to recommend this restaurant only because it is so good and still remains out of most tourist’s reach. But if you are a big foodie like me and are trying to explore true tuscan dining, Alla Vecchia Bettola will not disappoint.