August 01, 2019
The Ristorante Paoli is truly a hidden gem into the heart of Florence. If you don’t know it already, it’s not super easy to distinguish its external look from the massive choice that the city can offer in terms of restaurants and wineries.
This is why it is so precious to meet locals or get in touch with the authenticity of places when travelling, because really, when we find our-selves in a foreign country our eyes get tricked.
The experiences not to be missed can be right under our nose; this is why I started Me & Tuscany and also why, today, I am introducing you the Oldest Restaurant in Florence!
In the year 1827 the restaurant started its lucky business. It means that in 8 years it will be its 200thbirthday ! To give it a time framing: this restaurant was born only six years after Napoleone’s death!
The actual look of the restaurant comes from a renovation made in 1909. Don’t confuse its interiors designs with the middle-age, that style is actually called 'neo-medievale' and it was in use at the times of the renovation. Later, in 1951, new frescoes added value to Ristorante Paoli’s rooms made by artists such as Annigoni.Certainly the interiors help to jump into the restaurant’s small universe: a legacy of Florentine history and traditional cuisine.
Today, in 2019, the restaurants belongs to the families Fontani and Verrecchia (since 2008), and it is part of the brand Casa Trattoria. I am super honoured to be in collaboration with them and to have been able to experience this unique place personally.
Whether the owners of that time were foreseeing a long life for their business or either they were good at XIX century’s marketing (!) they had a brilliant idea, an idea which is nowadays the most precious item into Ristorante Paoli: The Book of the Guests.
It is a sort of huge note-book, dated 1827 where all the costumers could write something about their stay in the restaurant. I held in my hands a piece of history. It blows my mind to think about these strangers, back in the centuries, leaving a sign of their presence.
People could write any kind of things, from a simple signature to draws. In certain pages you can also read about the menu of a specific day so that Paoli’s owners could discover about the old recipes and have under their eyes the history of their own kitchen.
Least but not last, not all of the book signers where ‘strangers’, a lot of famous people came by and you can check the signatures of Giacomo Puccini and Charlie Chaplin them-selves or also authors that I love such as Pirandello.
The menu is fully Tuscan, and Florentine in particular.
A proper Florentine restaurant has to have Antipasti Toscani (cold cuts together with slices of bread with ‘fegatini’ and Tuscan cheeses), the Ribollita (best in winter: a warm veggie soup with bread and our ‘cavolo nero’, Prosciutto e Melone (perfect match for the summer), Bistecca alla Fiorentina (the super typical of Florence, steack very much cooked outside and kind of raw inside). I recommend this last one above all. Trust me, I am not a lover of raw meat, but Paoli’s traditional Bistecca alla Fiorentina was the best I have ever had.
And if you want to go fully Tuscan then order a Chianti or a Bolgheri red wine.
Prices are extremely good! I expected a much higher bill, but the truth is that the costs are really accessible and extremely worthing the experience.
I went to Paoli’s on a Tuesday and it was all full, please be sure to book it as soon as you plan your trip to Florence:
Book Here as soon as you can.
Also if you want to stay in touch find them here on Instagram
The Restaurant is in Via dei Tavolini 12, right in the historical city center of Florence.
Please notice that here in Italy we have a timing for lunch (12:00-15:00) and one for dinner (19:00-23:00). In between the two, the restaurant is closed.
I am really happy to suggest you such a unique place, and I would be even happier to get in touch with you! Write me here or on Instagram; hearing about your experience coming by my suggestion would mean the world to me!
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