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there are the restaurants where the food is divine but the atmosphere somewhat lacking; there are the restaurants where the atmosphere is buzzing and electric, and you therefore put up with the food; and there are the restaurants where you get on so well with the staff that you get a free carafe of red wine, free deserts, and you close it down with the guys in the kitchen.

this is what happened to nora, laura and i at il cantinone. it was a saturday evening and, as usual, extraordinarily hard to find a restaurant in central florence which wasn’t completely packed. this place had something of the touristy kitsch to it – but hey, it was open, there was room for us, and it was close to home.

i cannot remember what we had, but it was surely decent fare. more importantly, the three of us talked the night away. we sat down at 20h30 and, before we knew it, it was 12h15, and we were the last ones in the restaurant. the kitchen guys had finished their shift, and after having given us some extra (free) wine and deserts, they sat themselves down at a table on the other side of the room. ‘do you mind if we smoke?’ they hollered. ‘course not! do you mind if we do?’ nora responded.

and so a handful of people stayed in il cantinone for another few hours (breaking my very strict bedtime rules). the three of us on one side, talking about gender issues and films, the kitchen guys on the other, talking in italian so i have no idea what they were saying. each group in it’s happy little world, enjoying one of the simple pleasures in life: a good chat, with good friends, after a good meal.

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nora

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and laura

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at il cantinone

via di santo spirito, 6r

florence

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