by Sally Biondo, Guest Writer
When I think of Italy, the movie Only You comes to mind.
My best friend Alia and I have been planning an Italian escape to Florence for years, just like Faith and Kate from the movie “Only You” circa 1994. Alia is a culinary graduate and I’m a food lover who loves to eat all the food she creates. We both share an Italian background with a deep passion for food. Italy was the obvious choice for our culinary adventure!
Eating our way through Florence.
As soon as we stepped out of the train station, we knew we chose the perfect food destination to fulfill our senses. The smells of the fresh fruits and vegetables pouring out of the farmers market, the sound of cappuccino glasses hitting the sun drenched patio tables. We arrived at our Airbnb and met with our host Isa who sat us down and asked us ‘What brings you to Italy’, our answer was undoubtedly ‘food!’. We explained we wanted nothing but the best food Florence could offer and the freshest.
My friend Alia asked for fried calamari and I wanted fresh tomatoes in my salad.
She gave us a look like ‘are you crazy?!?’ ending with a polite smile. ‘Okay girls, the fisherman don’t fish on Sunday, so no fresh fish Monday and if you want fresh tomatoes, you’ll have to come back this summer’. Ahh they only eat what’s in season locally. Supermarkets carry everything all year back in the states.
That night we took Isa’s recommendation and tried her favorite local restaurant called Trattoria Casalinga. We ordered pasta with homemade pesto accompanied by a basket of fresh bread and for dessert panna cotta. We took out first bite (at the same time of course, just like best friends should) and looked at each other with a big smile. The taste was indescribable. So fresh. So flavorful. Unlike any pesto dish I’ve ever tasted. The dessert was other worldly. Our expectations have been met and exceeded. We knew this was only the beginning of our culinary adventure through Florence.
The Farmers Markets of Florence
The next day we decided to dedicate a full day to exploring the gorgeous farmers markets of Florence. It felt like this day was straight out of a movie ‘Under the Florence Market Stalls’ and it was the best idea we ever had! The markets in Florence are magical, filled with all that one could only hope for in a food Mecca such as this city.
Our first stop San Lorenzo Market.
It’s a must for experiencing a market in Florence like a true local. We walked around picking up local delicacies, fresh fruits and salad from the huge selection of vendors. The aromas as you walk past each stall was unmistakably Florence. The freshness and calmness in this market was truly special. We took our bag of farmers market finds (fresh burrata, semolina bread, insalata and homemade olives) sat down at a local park and prepared our lunch al fresco. Bellissimo!
Our last and notable stop of the day was Mercato Centrale.
A huge indoor market where you can buy fresh food on the first floor, the second floor is a foodies dream. A food court fully stocked with only the best local and top homemade restaurants. We had to try as many as possible of course. From fresh calamari to homemade Nutella chocolate moose. We had the full food experience here!
A Taste of Florence
Florence was everything and more. If you love food and art you’ll undoubtably fall in love with Florence just as much as we did!
Day 1: We stayed in the Oltrano.
A short walk over the Ponte Santa Trinita bridge and you’ll be in the city center. We loved staying in this area for the local feel and quiet, cobblestone streets. The area is full of amazing restaurants the locals love!
Restaurants: Trattoria La Casalinga, Tamero Pasta Bar, Gusta Pizza
Day 2: Our extraordinary Farmers Market day!
We walked through the city center and stopped at farmers markets along the way, these two were our favorites of the trip. Something to delight for everyone at both of these markets.