Happy Hump Day!
I hope you enjoyed my last post – I could not be happier to be back (on the blog, not as happy to be back from studying abroad, but that goes without saying).
I moved into my off campus apartment last Saturday (which also happened to be my 21st birthday!), and I am loving it. It’s a huge, updated apartment with a full kitchen, living room, 2 double bedrooms, and 2 bathrooms. I scored and got the “master” so my direct roommate and I also share a massive (like, embarrassingly huge) walk-in closet. I will definitely be sharing some pictures of my current digs after I’ve successfully updated you all on my abroad life. I hope you stay tuned for that!
I’m very busy with the new semester beginning and it’s back to reality with hard classes… After a semester of easy abroad classes, this full course load of upper level writing intensive communication classes and research paper heavy psych courses is like getting hit with a ton of bricks. Since I have some time before the real assignments start rolling in, I figured I would get on here and share with you some of my fabulous eats in Italy! Thanks (as always) to Jenn for hosting this WIAW party!
I have about 1,000,001 food pictures from not only Florence (where I was living), but from everywhere I traveled. I don’t want to bore you with the world’s longest post of food photos (read: make you drool all over your keyboard), so I’ll start with some pictures of my favorite eats in Florence, and of course I will name drop the best restaurants in the city!
Let’s get to it!
Gusta Pizza. Yes, at Gusta’s you can get your pizza in a heart shape if you’re cute ;). Just kidding, you have to ask. My favorite had mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, arugula, and parmesan. The parmesan brought it to a whole new level. Even if you can’t get to Florence or Gusta’s, try adding parm to any old pizza – you can thank me later.
A whole wheat panino with sundried tomato, turkey, fresh tomato (Italy has the best tomatoes), and pesto spread from Gusta Panino. There are 3 restaurants (all owned by the same family) that boast the Florence-famous name, “Gusta” – Gusta Pizza, Gusta Panino, and Gusta Osteria. If you’re ever in Florence, you will undoubtedly hear this name, and let me tell you, you need to try
at least one of the three all three.
Gusta Osteria has a great selection of meals for a really great price. I had the gorgonzola risotto with walnuts and arugula which was fabulous.
Lo SchiacciaVino was our place. We became friends with the owners and workers, and literally went here for lunch or dinner every other day. It was even where we ate our very last meal in Florence – which speaks volumes. They have the most unbelievable tagliere, as well as perfect panini and salads with amazing bread. I want this right now.
Oh, that would be a panino the size of my head. I believe All’Antico Vinaio is ranked #1 on TripAdvisor’s list of best restaurants in Florence, and it’s obvious why. The line is always super long from about noon to 3:30, but it moves fast and is so worth the wait. Their panini are massive and absolutely incredible. The bread is so fresh and thick, and the ingredients are unreal. We learned about halfway through the semester that you can order a “half” for 3.50 euro, and it’s still huge. Miss this place.
La Prosciutteria was one of our favorite places for both lunch and dinner – we went at least twice a week. They have the best boards of meat, cheese, crostini, veggies and fruits, and their gorgonzola truffle spread is to die for (so naturally, I bought 2 jars of it to bring home). Their panini are also fantastic – so many fresh ingredients and the most delicious, salty bread. This was one of our go-to’s and I still crave it.
As you can probably tell, we were slightly obsessed with tagliere (boards with meat, cheese, and crostini), and Note Di Vino – Enoteca Wine Bar was another one of our faves. The man who owns it is the best and prepares a unique plate for you, and then comes out and explains what everything is and how to go about eating it. It’s his art and I’m a huge fan.
Salumeria Verdi (aka Pino’s). This is a cute panini shop owned by the sweetest man, Pino. He has a ton of options, or you can create your own sandwich, and he and his coworkers are the nicest people! So many students are regulars here, and for good reason. He also has a wine cellar where you can reserve a night to do the whole wine tasting experience – try
too many wines paired with cheese, bread, and meats, learn how to drink them correctly (sight test, smell, swirl, swish, taste – the whole 9 yards), and basically just have a blast with friends.
This is an “American style” panino with turkey, provolone, pesto, sundried tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar, plus a salad with avocado, tomato, pineapple, orange slices, and balsamic. Believe it or not, most places in Florence do not have pesto as a spread option, since it is not technically Tuscan, but rather it is from the region of Cinque Terra. While this was definitely not the best panini spot in Florence, The Oil Shoppe was one of our favorites because they offered about 75(ish) different sandwich and salad options, and you could always create your own, too. Yum!
Brac is a tiny hole in the wall that my roommate and I stumbled upon one night. You need to make a reservation since there are so few tables, and keep in mind that the food is vegetarian and not traditional Italian by any means (so if you’re only in Florence for a couple days, I wouldn’t say this is a “must”). It’s modern and unique and a great place to change it up a bit if you’re not feeling the typical (yet delicious) pasta, pizza, or panino. I always ordered the plate where you pick 3 items from each section of the menu for 12 euro. My faves were the (much more fancier names that I cannot remember for the life of me) pumpkin & onion flatbread, veggies and rice, and avocado salad.
My memory must be failing me because I cannot remember the name of this place, but the food was so good. I definitely wrote it down somewhere and will edit this post to add it if I find it, but it’s located right next to Volume in Piazza Santa Spirito. I only went here once but I would’ve gone back a lot more if we had more time. A friend and I split the pear pizza (oh my gosh – cheese and fruit are the best combo ever) and the “Queen” salad that had spinach, sundried tomatoes, shaved parmesan, slivered almonds, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. Heaven.
Osteria Santa Spirito is one of the most authentic Italian restaurants I think I’ve ever been to. The pasta is so fresh and perfect, and everything on the menu is amazing. Plus, it’s fairly cheap. You can also order half portions, aka try more than one of the many delicious options. I loved the classic tomato and basil spaghetti, and the risotto with zucchini was fabulous too. You can’t go wrong here.
I had been hearing about Acqua Al 2 since probably day two in Florence, but since it is a bit more pricey, I saved it for when my parents came in late October. I had also heard to try the “samplers,” so my mom, dad, best friend, and I shared the salads, pastas (5 different crazy good dishes), and meat samplers. Everything was fantastic, but the meat stole the show, as I heard it would. The blueberry balsamic steak was to die for, as was the balsamic glaze steak. If you’re wanting some red meat or just an awesome meal, you need to go here.
Another very pricey, yet worth every euro (especially if it’s your parents’ euro 😉 ), is La Giostra. You feel like a celebrity as soon as you walk into the small, dimly lit restaurant, mostly because there are pictures of celebs and politicians covering the walls. As soon as you sit, they bring complimentary Prosecco (sparkling white wine), and an appetizer plate. One of my professors had recommended the pear ravioli, so after making the tough decision (everything sounded so good), I went with it for my meal. It looks like nothing in the picture, but it was actually a good size, very rich, and so. freaking. good.
On my parents’ last night in Florence, we went to a place I had been recommended by so many people – not just in Florence but in multiple places throughout my travels. Even a guy in London told my friends and I we had to try Trattoria 4 Leoni. Everyone told us to try the pear ravioli here as well, so I didn’t even look at the menu. It was unreal – perfectly sweet and savory, and just the right portion (although I would’ve happily eaten more even after I was in a food coma).
La Buchetta was a late discovery, and I’m pretty bummed about that. We happened upon it one night late in the semester when we were starving and wanted to try something new. The first time we went we had a board of prosciutto, salami, and cheeses, which was good but nowhere near as good as the homemade pastas. It may not look pretty, but they bring it out in scalding tin foil and unwrap it like a present in front of you. The ravioli with eggplant, zucchini, and parmesan was probably the best pasta dish I have ever had. I got it at least three more times and I wish I knew all that was in it so I could attempt to recreate it at home.
Aperitivo is one of the best things in Europe – I wish we did it in America! You order a drink for 7 or 8 euro and then you’re free to go to the buffet as many times as you want! My favorite places for this were Kitsch, Soul Kitchen, Moyo, and Biblioteca delle Oblate (yes the school library had a rooftop that was a cafe/live entertainment/bar in the evenings…what a different life they live over there!).
Oh yes, The Secret Bakery. This place was not really a “secret” since just about every abroad student raved about it, but oh my gosh, it was worth the hype. It would “open” around 1 AM every night and drunk students would make their way to the secret door by simply tracing the aromatic path of Nutella croissants and cream filled pastries. You would stand in line behind obnoxious college students and wait until the door opened, say the number of “goods” you wanted, and pay 1 euro for each one. I know that sounds like the sketchiest thing in the world, but we’re pretty sure it’s a bakery for other cafes that are open by day, and not some creepy place like it sounds (since locals and nearby restaurant owners know about it). I believe there are a few locations throughout the city, so I suggest you follow your nose if you ever find yourself out in the streets of Florence after midnight.
If you like chai lattes, gorgeous cappuccinos (in flavors like hazelnut, french vanilla, and cinnamon), and you ever find yourself in Firenze, you need to go to ChiaroScuro. The chai lattes are made with the frothiest, creamiest steamed milk, and sprinkled with loads of cinnamon. It is literally heaven in a cup and puts Starbucks to shame.
Gelato was essentially an everyday occurrence in Italy. My favorite flavors, you ask? Nutella, pistachio, biscotti (Italy’s 100x better version of cookies & cream), coffee, brown sugar, hazelnut, banana, and mixed berry. My favorite gelaterias, you ask? Gelateria de Neri, and La Carraia, although honesty, I did not discriminate.
Is anyone else starving?
Anyway, that’s all I have for you today, but I will be back soon with more European eats, abroad adventures, and much more!