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FLORENCE     Florence –  the capital of the Tuscany region and the cradle of Renaissance   We opted for Flix Bus while traveling from Venice to Florence. The road journey takes about three and a half-hour. In Florence, it terminates at the rear end of Santa Maria Novella (SMN) train station. One of Italy’s busiest stations, it got its name from Santa Maria Novella Church just across the plaza from the main entrance. We debarked at the station and refreshed ourselves at McDonald's before hiring a cab for our hotel. Florence, popularly known as ‘Firenze’ by the Italians, is located in central Italy. This dreamy city with a romantic name is the regional capital of the lovely Tuscany region.   Columbus Hotel, where we stayed, is located in Lugarno District. We always prefer to book our hotels through Booking.com as we always land up getting good hotels at good locations. Despite being a little away from the heart of the city and Santa Maria Novella station

Calcutta Cafes

CALCUTTA CAFES  Oh Calcutta! Addas with Great Tastes

About twenty years back Calcutta boasted of some famous ‘adda’ joints like Coffee Houses on College Street and Central Avenue, Basanta Cabin in Basusree Cinema, Sangu Valley at Bhowanipur, Dhaba at Ballygunge Phari to name a few alongwith a few renowned Tea stalls where people from all walks of life would congregate and spend hours over cups of tea and snacks debating  literally on all topics under the sun. The city earned a name for such ‘adda’ scenario which used to be mostly intellectual in nature. Lyrically depicted in Manna De’s popular rendering of Bengali song ‘ Coffee houser  sei  Adda …’.But over the years this character dwindled with emergence of modern foodscape. Like old wine in new bottle, more costlier versions sprang up – CCD, KFC, McDonalds, Haldiram, Barista to name a few. Returning to Calcutta after many years the one joint that caught my fancy as a foodie and a great admirer of Calcutta ‘adda’ is a café housed in ICCR, opposite US consulate on Ho Chi Minh Sarani (previously Hungerford Street). We discovered this about a year back when we went to ICCR to see a performance of tabla maestro Bikram Ghosh and some other renowned percussionists of India. The café is located on the ground floor, next to the main entrance to ICCR. A glass façade merged with a glass swing door provides a soothing view of the exterior of ICCR. Through the glass one can see the lawn, the pathway, visitors milling around and celebrities and musicians who come there to perform. Interior decoration is simple with properly laid tables and seating arrangement. Some cottage industry handicrafts and artworks are on display in one corner of the space. May be the simplicity in the nitty-gritty of the décor adds to the finer nuances in the ambience. So much so that once inside I feel like spending long hours relaxing and chatting over a cup of refreshing Darjeeling tea and my favourite Cheese sandwich. It is more in the pattern of Flurys on Park Street but  more reasonably priced and offerings of a cornucopia of local flavours such as excellent Ghugni, Mutton Chop, Chicken Cutlet etc.They also offer some continental and Italian delicacies like Pastas as well. I have also tasted their special Pudding which I strongly recommend to all Pudding lovers.

The following pics of the ICCR Cafe were taken by Arundhati Sengupta on her Moto-E smartphone:

Exterior view of the Cafe at ICCR

Inside the Cafe



Seating Area

Chicken Cutlet

Pasta & Beverage

Outside view from inside

Some delicacies of Bengal available at the Cafe

Waiters are efficient and hospitable



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