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Trattoria Sostanza, Florence

I had hoped that Florence would be immune to January’s drizzly, grey charms…

… but sadly it is not.

The mists we had enjoyed watching roll in across the hills, soon surrounded the city. A thick, lumpy duvet of cloud lay over the rooftops and lazily dusted us in rain.

The weather gods occasionally took a break to yawn and go off for a cuppa now and then, leaving us to scuttle through the wet streets and enjoy the sites once more.

Staying warm and dry in

Jimmy Choo boots (V. smart high-St dupes here)

Ridley jeans

(These come in so many colours and seem to flatter every shape – even maternity. The high waist draws in your tummy and the dark tones slim your legs. You also don’t get a flash of ankle showing through, so you stay toasty!)

Black poloneck // Navy coat (Highstreet dupe)

Cashmere wrap // Sunglasses (50% off)

^ If you can’t see the bits and pieces above, it’s because of your ad blocker – even though it’s not an ad! – so you’ll have to whitelist The Londoner if you wanna shop.

Thankfully I carry my own sunshine on my arm…

Lanvin Sugar Monkey Bag

Now, in my book, there’s only one thing to be done when it pours.

Find a good restaurant and hunker down!

Ok, just one last close up of my beauty before we go…

Now when I say find a “good” restaurant, I actually mean the very best that Florence had to offer.

This place has sprung to very near the top of my all-time-favourite-restaurants-anywhere-in-the-world list.

It’s nothing fancy, in fact it’s incredibly simple. A tiny little place in a street you would never pass, unless of course you were hunting this joint out, desperate for a taste of the best chicken of your life.

It’s called Trattoria Sostanza.

You sit at long tables, lean against white tiled walls and read a hand scrawled (daily) menu.

The kitchen is open, so open you’ll have to walk through to pop to the loo, and the chefs are some of the most charming you’ll ever meet!

Have a chat, say hello and they’ll happily show you the ropes.

Cooking is as rustic and as Tuscan as you can get.

The focus is on superb quality, local, ethically farmed ingredients, cooked simply.

The butter chicken will completely change your life.

The chef takes a plump chicken breast, coats it in flour, swims it in egg and adds to a pan filled with bubbling butter.

Seasons it.

And leaves it resting on the embers to cook in its buttery bath.

Beside it, veal chops sizzle on the grill.

Back at our table, we started with Pasta al Sugo (pasta in meat sauce).

If you tell them you’re sharing, they split it between two, which is very civilised!

Mostly because it means I can add as much parmesan as I jolly well please, and not bother my sharer!

The restaurant is always full and you have to book, well in advance if possible.

You’ll find yourself surrounded by all sorts, but reassuringly, they’re mostly Italian!

When the butter chicken (“Petti di pollo al burro” on the menu) arrived, it sizzles its way from the kitchen, turning heads as it goes.

Gloriously juicy, plump chicken breasts coated in a delicate, caramelised crust. Served with a slice of lemon to squeeze all over it.

And one hell of a veal chop for my date.

(Dad would love this place!)

Along with some garlicky greens to share.

Hands down one of my favourite meals ever.

Topped off with the joy of mopping up all that sauce, with homemade crusty bread.

^ The internationally recognised sign of a really great meal.

Can you imagine any kitchen in London being that keen to welcome little boys into their kitchen, to teach them about ingredients?

God I love Italy.

The “House Cake” is also thing of beauty.

Layers of meringue, cream, ice-cream, chocolate and berries.

Almost like a towering Eton Mess… but better! (Sorry mum.)

The walls are covered in notes, post cards and photos from distinguished guests.

You could spend hours pouring over them.

^ Do you see Chagall up there, next to Queenie?

I really cannot recommend a visit enough.

Even if you’re not visiting Florence and you’re staying in Pisa or anywhere nearby, make the trip!

Call 039-55212691 to book : Mon – Fri 12:30 – 14:00 // 19:30 – 21:45

Find them at Via del Porcellana, 25/r, 50123 Florence, Italy. (Map)

Don’t expect reservation times to be taken too seriously, they seat you when the table’s ready! Chances are you’ll share with others. We made firm friends with some fashion photographers and a family from New York who live in Florence half time.

Whatever you do, have the chicken!

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