A steep climb from Fiesole’s central piazza takes you in the direction of the old San Francesco Convent and what once was an Etruscan acropolis. If the climb leaves you a little breathless, so will the views of the Fiesole hillside and the misty panorama of Florence punctuated by the Duomo’s famous cupola. A meal at La Reggia degli Etruschi offers views and an incomparable cuisine. Father and son team, Marco and Leonardo Cirillo, took over the restaurant in 2003 and to experience Leonardo’s cooking makes the climb worth every step. If arriving on foot is a challenge, a simple phone call to the restaurant from the central piazza, will see that a driver comes to the rescue.
Upon arrival, tease your taste buds with any of the varied antipasti. We had the sformato di verdure in creamy tomato sauce. For primo, Leonardo suggested green ravioli with a nettle and ricotta filling. Bathed in a buttery sage sauce, these were made with the most delicate handmade pasta I have ever tasted. But reigning supreme over the menu were the beef specialties – to be ordered prepared in a variety of ways, the most popular being the traditional bistecca fiorentina or the tagliata on a bed of fresh arugula. Their wine list is extensive, and their cantina boasts over 600 labels.
Leonardo’s modesty is endearing. He claims almost shyly that his is a simple cuisine, a skill that came naturally to him without any professional training. Well, he is a natural and his offerings are simply perfect. And because he uses the freshest ingredients in uncomplicated ways, the result is satisfying, without being overfilling. A dessert, coffee and a leisurely walk downhill is all that is necessary to complete a most memorable day in Fiesole.