Small World Story: A Restaurant in Florence

Guest Author: Seth Kaplan

A small world story can happen anywhere and at any time. They make for pleasant surprises. Here’s a small world story from a recent trip to the optical store.

Before leaving for vacation several months ago, I wanted to make sure I could see clearly, so I stopped in at the optical shop at my healthcare provider’s brick-and-mortar store to get my frames repaired.

“Wardrobe malfunction,” I said as I showed the optician the broken spring in one earpiece of the frames. She, a charming, sophisticated Eurasian wearing stylish frames herself, examined the damage. After determining that I purchased the frames less than one year ago and that I had bought them there, she took them into the back room. After a moment, she emerged to inquire if my name matched the one in her computer records.

“These springs cost about $10. I’ll have to order them because we don’t keep these designer parts in stock. Will that be . . .”

A Small-World Story

Ristorante Il Latini, Florence, small world story

Ristorante Il Latini

She paused mid-sentence and looked closely at my shirt, a long-sleeved, light gray, collared pullover with a logo printed over the left breast pocket.

“Il Latini,” she read aloud. “I was just there two days ago.”

“Get out!” I exclaimed.

“Yes, my wife and I vacationed in Italy, and Il Latini was one of the restaurants recommended to us. I hope you got the prix fixe menu.”

“I don’t remember,” I replied. “We went to Italy to celebrate our 30th anniversary. Believe it or not, that was a long time ago. A college classmate I ran into at a trade show in Las Vegas recommended it. While we got caught up, I mentioned that we were leaving soon on a walking tour of Tuscany.

“You gotta go to Il Latini!,” he said.

A Tough Place to Get Seats

She laughed. “When we went, it was hard to get in. They were even turning away people with reservations.”

“We scouted out the location beforehand, so we knew where would be walking,” I replied. “Of course, at that time of day, the square in which it is located was deserted. This lulled us into a false sense of security.

Ristorante Il Latini, Florence, interior, family-style seating

One of the many rooms

“When we got there, the owner/maître d’, a large, unshaven fellow with a big belly, held up two fingers in a V and inquired, ‘Due?’

‘Si,’ I replied.

Waving at us to follow him, he led us into a dark, noisy dining room. He seated us at a picnic table with three other couples, all from different countries: Brazil, Australia, England. The food, the wine, the company, and the ambiance made it one of the great dining adventures of our lives.”

“Remember the game and cheeses hanging from rafters?” she asked.

“Yeah! Amazing!”

The Prix Fixe Menu

Now she was on a roll with her recent memory. “We lost count of how many dishes they brought out to us. The steaks were phenomenal, but all the food and wine was probably the best we’d had in Italy. We had no idea when we opted for prix fixe that they would bring food in such quantity and variety. And, you won’t believe the cost. Only about 60€ for the two of us!”

“We were there before euros,” I noted with a grin.

When we both paused for breath, I said, “What are the odds?” I continued. “My ESP told me someone would recognize the name Il Latini sometime today.”

Follow-up on Il Latini: Aline

I remember Ristorante Il Latini very well. It was the one free night on our Overseas Adventure Travel walking tour of Tuscany. We got to the Via dei Palchetti well before the restaurant opened its doors for dinner. The street was crowded but not so much that I was worried about getting in. Then more people arrived, and more, and it turned into a mob scene. The restaurant, located on the ground floor, didn’t look that big and I began to worry that a pleasant evening out was about become a disappointment.

Not to worry. When the doors opened and the crowd streamed in, we discovered that Il Latini stretched across several buildings. As we walked through several rooms I saw that the restaurant was much larger than it looked on the outside.

Tuscan steak, Ristorante Il Latini, Florence

The Tuscan steak

We introduced ourselves in multiple languages and studied the menu, which is a carnivore’s delight. Ristorante Il Latini is not the place for vegetarians and vegans to go. Like a Brazilian churrascaria, they bring big platters of different kinds of roasted and grilled meat along with bowls of pasta and side dishes. You help yourself and pass the bowls down the table, family style.

We feasted on wonderful food and excellent wine but the experience was even better. We had a great time as we shared our travels and histories along with the food. We have recommended Ristorante Il Latini to many people who were about to visit Florence but Seth’s experience is the first time I have heard of someone else eating there.

If you’re planning a trip to Florence, Italy, however, I definitely recommend dinner at Ristorante Il Latini. Don’t let the crowd bother you — just get there early.

Why the Shirt?

Via Dei Palchetti, Florence, Ristorante Il Latini, street map, small world storyNow,you may wonder why was my husband wearing a Ristorante Il Latini staff shirt. It’s a thing. He buys shirts from restaurants that he likes.

I’m different. Having spent many years in advertising, I think that, if an establishment wants me to wear their shirt, they can not only give it to me but pay me to wear it. I guess that’s the difference between sentimental and commercial motivations

So if you see someone wearing a gray Il Latini shirt, ask him if his name is Seth. It could happen. This is a small world.

This entry was posted in Food and Cooking, Travel and tagged , , , , by Aline Kaplan. Bookmark the permalink.

About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. Aline’s articles have also appeared on the Atlas Obscura website. She has been an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America since 1988 and is a long-term member of the Spacecrafts science/fantasy writers’ group. As a tour guide, Aline leads architectural and historical walking tours of the city for Boston By Foot, ghost tours for Haunted Boston and historical bus tours of the city. She lectures on Boston history and has appeared in the Boston Globe, as well as on TV for Chronicle, an award-winning television program that broadcasts stories of New England. As a lecturer, Aline has spoken at Brandeis and Tufts universities for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She has also addressed as service organizations and local meetings. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

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