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Food in Florence!

If I had to choose one thing that I liked best about my semester abroad in Florence, it would have to be the food! Real Italian food is actually quite different than the Italian food you find at Olive Garden, and I've enjoyed trying the authentic versions of my favorite Italian meals throughout the semester. Let's start with breakfast, shall we?

For breakfast, it's common to stop by a bar (aka coffee shop) and enjoy a pastry and a hot drink at the counter. This particular morning I ordered a nutella crostata and a caffe latte, but croissants and espresso are also really popular. You'll have to adjust to the tiny size of the coffee though, no Venti size drinks here! Even a large coffee at Italian McDonald's is the size of an American small.

 For lunch, typically paninis are the meal of choice when you're running around between classes. If you have some more time, I would suggest checking out Gusta Pizza. Florence isn't known for having the best pizza, but Gusta is one of the few places that gets it right. You'll notice that the sauce isn't as seasoned as it is in the States, and mozzarella will come in big chunks. It is so fresh and delicious! If you are in a hurry, grab a panini or a kebab from any one of the numerous places around the city.

If you're going out to dinner in Florence, you'll be faced with a lot of options on the menu. If you're one of those people (like me) who can't decide what to order, spring for an appetizer platter. The one above included bruschetta, salami, fried dough, prosciutto, white beans and anchovies. You can also choose to go to an aperitivo, which includes a drink and unlimited appetizers for the whole night. Most restaurants offer aperitivo and they're relatively cheap.
For your primi piatti (first course), you'll have a selection of pasta to choose from. My favorites are the tomato based sauces because they are so fresh, but the cream sauces are also delicious. Make sure you sprinkle some Parmigiano Reggiano on top!

 Florence is known for their steak, and while the above two photos aren't of the bistecca alla fiorentina, they were equally as good. The top photo is rare steak with Parmesan shavings and the bottom is steak marinated in red wine and peppercorn sauce.

Even though Florence is known for the steak, they are famous for their gelato! It's absolutely necessary to try all of the best gelaterie in the city. There are about a million flavors to choose from and regardless of your tastes, you'll find something you'll love. It's best to stay away from the touristy gelaterie that pile the gelato really high; the prices are high and the quality isn't as good. My favorites are Grom, Gelateria de Neri and il Gelato di Filo, although I can't say that I've ever had bad gelato...

Well there you have it, all the basics to eat well in Florence! I've really enjoyed doing my "research" for this post. I don't know how these Italians stay so thin!
Loren Benton
CEA MOJO in Florence

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