I don’t know how to express what I felt when I opened that menu alone at Ristorante Oliviero in Florence on the eve of my 50th birthday only to see my birth year printed on that very menu.


I thought, chances of this would be like winning the lottery (if I played it!).  This was my lottery to win though.  This was my sign, my message, my assurance that I was in the right place at the right time and that I was going to find my way out of the lost place in which I had been.

When I arrived at the restaurant, I had absolutely no intention of letting anyone know that is was my birthday, but when I saw that darned menu and almost fell off my chair,  I had to tell someone.  When the host understood what I was saying he grinned from ear-to-ear and welcomed me wholeheartedly.

I enjoyed a wonderful dinner of rabbit leg stuffed with a chestnut and mushroom puree.

50th bday dinner

After, dinner I was presented with a beautiful dessert compliments of the restaurant.  A mascarpone stuffed baked pear with chocolate and caramel drizzle and walnut shells filled with walnut gelato.  I am not a big dessert person nor sweet tooth, but are you kidding me?!

50th bday dessert

There was even a birthday candle!  I immediately thought of my dear Mother who was  a bit freaked out about me traveling alone to a foreign country, and being alone on my birthday.  I knew that she would be very happy that I had a candle to make a wish upon and blow out on the evening!

The host poured me a glass of moscato (complimentary again).  I sipped it while indulging in my beautiful birthday dessert.  He poured me a second.  I sipped that one.  Then he went to pour me a third and I said “No Grazie, I have to walk back to my apartment!”  He asked “Is is far?”  I said “No.”  He said “OK”, and proceeded to pour me a third–such a precious moment!

Before I left he gave me a copy of the menu as a keepsake of the evening and of my birthday.

Wow.  That was more than I could have hoped for on my birthday evening, but the night was not over yet!