Whenever we come to Florence, which is yearly, we make our pilgrimage to the sleepy little walled town of Poppi, and in the garden of this restaurant we have the most reliably super meal of our trip.
Poppi is on a steep little hilltop in the center of a flat valley, marked by a castle distinguished mostly by the fact that Dante is said to have come here to help in a military campaign.
The old town, utterly quiet, is preserved from the plague of tourism by the very modesty of Poppi's antiquities. Apart from a sweet little church with an endearing portrait of virgin and child, there's nothing to put Poppi on the tourist trail. You can be the beneficiary of this modestly.
The albergo-ristorante Il Casentino includes a large ancient hall that seems to have been a refectory for monks, but the restaurant also serves in garden where, on summer days, we prefer to eat.
The house wine, called Chimera, is very pleasing. The food is excellent (especially the steak, tagliata al rosmarino, to which we always add the super patate fritte, which arrive hot and crisp and wonderfully flavored with the olive oil in which they were cooked. The prices are unreasonably low--about $65 for three people having wine, bruschetta, then pasta, then steak and potatoes and insalata, then dessert and coffee.
The albergo provides a simple and pleasant place to spend the night; but it is the restaurant, and the charmingly-quiet old town that keep bringing us back.
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