I have just come back from an amazing trip to Italy. I am convinced that Italy is now my second home. The people are wonderful, kind, and gracious. The scenery is stunning. The history is fascinating. The artwork is the greatest on earth. And the food….well, it’s not like much of the “regular” Italian food you get here in America. It is always fresh and in season, and each region has its own unique cuisine.

Florence is known for the statue of David, the Uffizi gallery, spectacular churches (like the incomparable Duomo) and….steak and ice cream. Yes, steak and ice cream (not served at the same time, of course). Did you know that gelato (Italian ice cream) was created in Florence 500 years ago? Thank God for the Florentines. I had great gelato in Rome and Venice, but…oh..my..gosh…the Florentines take it to a whole new level. They had something called “Spirito d’Sicilia” (forgive my poor spelling). It was some kind of orangey ice cream with something else in it. I thought I was in paradise. Their stracciatella (sort of a chocolate and vanilla mix), crema, and other unique flavors simply cannot be beat.

And then they have “bistecca”. That is a loan word from the English “beefsteak”. True to form, the Italians take steak to another level that no one can beat. We went to a place recommended by some of our Italian family. It was “Trattoria Baldini” on Via Prato. One steak was six inches tall and well over a foot long. I kid you not. This one T-bone fed all four of us. The only seasoning was some really crunchy salt and pepper, and then they grill it 2 minutes on each side, leaving it “al sangue” (rare) in the middle. Mmmmmmmm. It was juicy and succulent and bursting with flavor with each bite.

I’ve never had any steak that tasted this good. I doubt I ever will again…until I return to Italy.

Thank you Lord for giving us the nation of Italy so the rest of us can experience great art and great food!