Following on from a couple of other great street food guides I have featured on Travel With Kat here, Debra Kokkla, who lives and blogs from Bagni de Lucca in Tuscany, shares her thoughts on street food in the lovely city of Florence.
Italians take their food very seriously. If you listen in on conversations on a bus or in the street you will find that mostly they are talking about food…what they had for dinner last night, what they might have for lunch, which prosciutto is the best… I find it all fascinating.
It is very rare, however, to find somebody eating from a paper bag on the run. Even a quick snack will be savoured and preferably eaten sitting with friends.
Because of this street food is a little different from other places. Even a seriously tiny establishment will usually have a couple of seats so their customers can sit and enjoy their food. Although there are a few fast food establishment which really are just holes in the wall where you can buy food to take away, such as Da Vinattieri, which you’ll find down a small alley just off Piazza Santa Croce. Typically menus are written on blackboards outside to allow for quick decisions on what to have.
Tripe stands are very popular in Florence. Locals love to order a panino di trippa or lampredotto for lunch. Trippa is white and usually cooked in a tomato sauce. Lampredotto is simmered in a seasoned broth. It is eaten with just salt and pepper, salsa verde or hot sauce. If you are like me and can’t even bear to look at tripe, you can order bollito, boiled meat.
Many bakeries and delis have small pizzas to take away. I have been known to eat these from a paper bag when nobody is watching.
The central food market, Mercato Centrale, in Florence is a great place to find a snack or lunch. Nerbone has been a favourite here for many years, it was founded in 1872, and there is usually a crowd gathered around the stand. Try the bruschetta with chicken liver pate or if you’re feeling brave, braised tripe and beans.
There is an excellent selection of things to order and there are seats nearby where you can sit comfortably to enjoy your lunch.
One exception to the dislike of eating on the run is gelato. It is perfectly acceptable to eat your gelato while wandering the gorgeous streets of Florence. There are gelato shops everywhere in the city. Avoid the ones with brightly coloured gelato piled high and find a place where the gelato is artiginale, made by artisans. Venchi is a relatively new (although they’ve been making chocolate since 1878) and very welcome addition to the gelato scene and can be found at 18, Vicolo Calimaruzza, Piazza del Mercato Nuovo.
If fast food isn’t for you, there are many wonderful restaurants in Florence where you can enjoy some specialties 0f the city…Florentine steak being one of them. Take a look at this restaurant window in Borgo San Jacopo.
Debra Kolkka, divides her time between Brisbane, Australia and Bagni di Lucca in Italy and loves to travel to all places in between. She has a background in fashion and started her blog about 4 years ago to share her experiences. It gives a fascinating insight into life in Italy and is well worth checking out.
Follow Debra at Bagni di Lucca and Beyond.
Top Ten Cheap Eats in Florence by John Brunton , The Guardian