We all know that eating and drinking are a huge part of Italian culture. So while living like an Italian for the next 3 months, I fully intend on eating and drinking the best of the best. I’ve already discovered some fantastic places to find delicious food on this little boot I call home. If you’re planning a trip to Italy (especially Florence) any time soon, you have to check these places out!
Location: Piazza della Repubblica, 6
Located literally within the same building as my school, you had to guess that I would be coming here probably every day for coffee before class. I usually order a cappuccino to go so I can take it with me to class. The cost is reasonable at €1.30 – I’ve spoken to students who have tried other places and have been charged anywhere from €1.50 to €3.50 for a cappuccino.
Drink your coffee while standing up at the bar. This is not Starbucks, so don’t plan on claiming a table for a few hours with your laptop and homework. If you sit down at a table to take your time drinking, even for a few minutes, you will incur the coperto (cover charge) that will probably double or triple to cost of your coffee. You have to stand while drinking your coffee? How awful!
But consider this: when you order a coffee (un caffè) you are ordering what we call espresso. Served in a small cup, it only takes a couple sips and mere minutes to drink. All restaurants in Italy charge the coperto on the meal (not just coffee shops), so there is little to no tipping. Remember this if you travel to Italy! Leave a 15% tip, and your waiter will be rich! Also, Italians never drink a cappuccino after lunch time. I have no idea why. If you would rather not get dirty looks from the locals, you should do the same. One more word of advice: if you order a latte, you will probably be handed a glass of milk. Here is an article
with more detailed explanations on the types of coffee drinks in Italy.
Location: Via dei Cimatori 38/r
When I say that this place is a hole in the wall, it is not an exaggeration. I’m pretty sure my closet is larger than this place. I don’t know how they do it, but the two men behind the counter make the most delicious and fresh sandwiches I have ever tasted. One handles the money, and the other makes the panino before you can even finish ordering it. My favorite (and my roommate’s) is the number 1 on the menu: prosciutto, soft goat cheese, and arugula for €2.50. The warm right-out-of-the-oven roll melts the cheese just slightly… I can’t rave about it enough. I’ve been here one week, and today I went there for the third time, if that gives you any idea of how much I love it. It’s location right near the Piazza della Repubblica makes it the perfect place to grab a quick, cheap, delicious panino after class.
Via Maggio, 46R (on the other side of the Arno – Oltrarno)
Again another small location, Gusta Pizza has been raved about all over Trip Advisor as the best pizza in Florence. Now I haven’t tried all of the pizzerias around here so I wouldn’t want to make that claim… but it’s the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve been there twice so far, the first time I had the margherita pizza and the second (last night) I had the pesto pizza. The pesto pizza isn’t even on the menu, but you need to ask for it. The cost is low, about €5 for a personal pizza that, trust me, is plenty to eat. Like I said, this place is very small for the amount of customers they have.
The 6-person tables (barrels with glass on top) are cramped, and unless you have a large party you will probably end up sharing a table with strangers. I think that is all part of the experience. The first time we went there, we met a woman who grew up in Newport, RI (she asked if I’m from RI because of my Alex and Ani bracelets!) and now lives in Zurich, Switzerland. She and her friend came down to Florence for a business meeting, dinner, and then heading back. How cool is that? She was so friendly. Showed us pictures of her son (“Isn’t he good looking? You should come meet him!”) and offered us to stay at her house if we ever needed to. The second time we went there for dinner we sat with a couple women who were speaking French (I think), so we didn’t talk much. But at the next table I overheard people from Canada talking to people from Australia.
Anyway, I’m sure if you’re coming to Italy you want some good pizza – well this is the place to go! Nothing fancy, but a fun experience with delicious food.
Location: Via del Campanile, 2 (on a small street off of the Piazza del Duomo)
One of the first – and most important – things I’ve learned about gelato here in Italy makes perfect sense. Have you ever walked past a gelato shop and been enticed by the huge mounds of gelato advertising the flavors? Those are the places to avoid. Gelato needs to be cold. If it is kept in a huge mound like that, it cannot stay cold. Makes sense, right? So if you see a gelato shop with covers over the gelato, that is a good place to go.
Although many people believe that it cannot be good because it is a chain, Grom is a very respectable place for gelato because of its fresh, seasonal ingredients. My professor of my Living Italy: Contemporary Culture & Society class raved about Grom for a good 20 minutes during our first class, saying that it “sets the standard” for all other gelato shops in Florence. This location is mere steps from the Duomo, so during or after your tour do yourself a favor and try some Grom!
Samantha Wood is the Fall 2013 CEA MOJO in Florence, Italy. She is currently a junior at Salve Regina University.
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