Hosteria La Perla is a hotel built right on the beach. It is only a short walk through the back gate until your toes are in the sand. The first thing you notice when you reach the beach is a small island about five miles offshore. At the end of the island, it appears as if there is a giant Army boot. Legend has it that pirates would hang treacherous buccaneers on the island.
There is much to do on St. Simons Island. Catch a trolley tour with Cap Fendig, whose family has resided on St. Simons since the 1800s. The Lady Jane tour, Let’s Go Shrimpin’, is a must. Everything caught is put back — after guests get to touch, hold, and photograph the catch — except for the shrimp, because the trademark white shrimp are boiled up for guests to dine on before departing the Lady Jane. On this trip, our group had the amazing experience of seeing local artist Peggy Buchan, who was born and raised in Brunswick, Georgia, paint a work of art while on the Lady Jane. It was a beautiful experience. Peggy paints the marshes, wildlife, and such peaceful images, all in her signature style. Peggy can be found creating tiny masterpieces on petite canvases at the Pier, the Johnson rocks, and Epworth-by-the-Sea.
The gates open and we are ushered to the left. I join the jogging, walking, running people circling clockwise around the outer edge of the racetrack. The super fit, well-toned runners glide effortlessly past the gentle joggers. A small group of club runners trots past a couple of power-walking ladies. A moms’ club chat animatedly to each other while pushing strollers. Everyone is welcome.
The entrees include a wide choice of pasta including a homemade broccoli rabe and chicken ravioli that is worth the trip alone. The veal chop saltimbocca is not to be missed and is stuffed with mozzarella di buffalo and garlic spinach and then wrapped in parma prosciutto and served with baby portabello mushrooms and a sweet marsala wine sauce. Steak lovers can choose from four different Angus beef steaks including the succulent fillet gorgonzola and crab. No trip to Di Paolo’s is complete without sampling their signature “orange size” crab cakes that are made from 100% jumbo lump crab meat and seem to be held together through willpower alone. All of the entrees are served with antipasto, a crispy house salad, Yukon potatoes, and a side of pasta.
It’s true that many restaurants in Florence serve up a fabulous Bistecca Fiorentina, but few come with an experience quite like the family-style offering at Il Latini. Down the narrow cobblestone street of via dei Palchetti near the Arno River, you’ll find tourists and locals alike cluttered in a small piazza, complimentary glasses of wine in hand, communing and waiting for their turns to be seated.