“If you don’t gain 5 pounds, you’re not doing it right.” A sentiment many of my peers share with me about getting the full Italian experience during our semester abroad. We’ve also discovered we are in the land of carbs. I come from the Midwest where we’ve got cheese, milk, and all things dairy. We have some of the carbs, but there is also opportunity for variety in food. In Italy I’ve discovered a new set of basic food groups. Bread, pasta and cheese. Bread comes in the form of sandwiches, schiacciata, pizza, breadsticks, bruschetta, brioches, etc. Pasta is the essential Italian meal, and can be made in a variety of ways, meaning endless nights of it for dinner, and cheese is put on everything here.
One could consider this a dilemma, or one could embrace it and go for the bigger pants and 5 pounds. It’s your decision, your stomach, your taste buds.
If you’re ready to loosen your belt, I’ve got a few restaurant recommendations in Florence for you to try.Sara Trattoria Pizzeria
Via Rosina, 7, 50123 Florence
Price $ *They also have student discounts
What to get: Margherita Pizza, Fiorentina Pizza, chocolate tart
A cute little place only about 5 minutes from the school, they have pizza, pasta, wine, dessert, and more! One pizza (they only come in one size) can feed 2 people if you’re not extremely hungry, or one person, if you are!
The Margherita is a simple pizza with a tomato sauce and a ton of gooey melted cheese on top. You wouldn’t normally think a pizza with only two toppings could be so tasty, but it was the cheesiest, sauciest Margherita pizza I’ve ever had. I would definitely eat a whole one of these to myself.
The Fiorentina has salami, tomatoes, mushrooms, black olives, and cheese.
Osteria Santo Spirito
Piazza Santo Spirito, 19 r, Firenze
What to get:
Appetizer: involtini di bresaola con caprino al basilico (cured beef filled with goat cheese)
Main dish: gnocchi gratinata al formaggi morbidi al profumo di tartufo (gnocchi with soft cheese gratinee and truffle oil)
Main dish: Tortellini with creamy hazelnut sauce
Here is where I had one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had while in Italy. The Tortellini with creamy hazelnut sauce left me speechless and wanting more. You get 5 large tortellinis with a nutty cheesy filling, then smothered in cheese sauce. I really can’t do it justice with my description, so you’ll have to experience this one yourself.
My friends had the gnocchi with cheese and truffle oil and were just as happy as I was. It’s also one of the dishes Osteria is well known for.
Li x Li’s Panini
Via 27 Aprile 42R 50129 Florence
Everyone who’s anyone knows about Li x Li’s. The best panini’s in the area, you can’t go a week without stopping in. The same two men work there every day and always greet you with a smile, and laugh lovingly when you don’t pronounce a number right.
Bonus! They have stamp cards! Get 30 stamps, get a free panini (trust me, you’ll get there in no time)
What to get: My two favorites are the bacon fat truffle oil and mushroom panini, or sausage omelette mushroom panini. But you really can’t go wrong. There’s a long list of options, so you’re bound to find something you’ll enjoy. If you’re super brave, ask for the shopkeepers special! Just make sure you specify if you want spicy or not spicy.