Firenze: the land of beautiful leather, delicious wine, a rich cultural history, drool-worthy gelato (and really all things sweet), nagging salesmen at the San Lorenzo leather markets and, above all things, ah-may-zing food.
Florence was an odd one for me and the BF – we had been told by many people that Florence was one of their fave cities, but it took a few days for us to really get it. The streets were quiet (but we later discovered it was the 2-week Italian holiday period) and it was a stark change of pace from the buzzing, in-your-face Spain from which we had just come. Needless to say, by the end of our 6 nights in Florence, we had realised just why people love it. It had a very home-like feel, which we were really sad to leave.
Florence was, by far, the best Italian food I have EVER tasted. And I’ve eaten a lot of Italian food. We loved some of the food so much, that we even re-visited restaurants (something which I generally don’t like to do on holiday – rather, get as many different experiences as possible). But this was so worth it.
There was one restaurant in particular which we had to restrain ourselves from visiting more than twice. Trattoria Za Za. Wow. I was recommended to go there by a friend, C, who had lived in Florence briefly and had, no doubt, frequented most restaurants. This was the softest, creamiest, melt-in-your-mouth-iest gnocchi I’ve ever consumed. I had plain and simple gnocchi pomodoro (tomato) and the BF had some sort of to-die-for creamy truffle sauce (which I couldn’t have because it was a creamy sauce – lactose). It’s also a huge restaurant right in the hussle and bussle of the San Lorenzo markets – a definite must visit! I tell my friends and family that they are not allowed to come back to Australia after visiting Florence unless they have eaten there!
My brother and sister-in-law (who just returned from their visit to Florence as part of their honeymoon) ended up eating there 3 times and even brought the BF and I back a Za Za’s cook book which we are SO excited to get cracking on. Follow my instagram account @allergianabroad for photos of our Za Za-style cooking attempts. We were also recommended to try the bistecca steak at Za Za. We didn’t order it as we couldn’t justify the cost on our 2.5 month trip (and I am not the biggest steak fan). However, it looked EPIC. The biggest serve of steak I’ve ever seen.. If you are a steak fan – definitely don’t pass up on this one!
Another must-do in Florence is to try the somewhat odd-sounding pear pasta. Again, my friend C told me to try this one. Pear ravioli in a creamy or cheesy sauce. Yep, I know this sounds horrendous. I couldn’t order it due to the lactose, but I tried the BFs (who ordered it twice) and it was really interesting. Sweet and savoury; complex flavours; a treat for the palate. We went to two different (recommended) restaurants which served this dish:
- Coquinarius (a restaurant with generally great food and a funky wine bar interior fit-out). If you look at their (amazing) reviews on TripAdvisor, you can see that the pear pasta is clearly their speciality – people love it! Located right near the Duomo.
- Quattro Leoni/Trattori 4 Leoni (a bit of a more up-market restaurant). Also with great reviews on TripAdvisor, located on the other side of the Ponte Vecchio, this is definitely worth checking out.
In Florence, it was pretty easy to avoid nuts. I knew when to expect them. Lactose was much harder, what with the pizza, the creamy pasta, the desserts. Yu-um. I tried to restrain myself for the most part, but I’d always have a sneaky taste of the BFs. For us, it was pretty much pasta, bread (dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar) and wine for 7 days straight. And the fresh handmade food did wonders for my body, despite the carb-loading!
Must do’s in the lovely land of Firenze (other than the obvious):
- Climb the Duomo for a stunning view of Florence [and to burn off those delicious Italian carbs 🙂 ].
- Watch the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo.
- Take the typical “Thriller” tourist photos at Pisa.
- Have some fun haggling with the salesmen at San Lorenzo markets, and buy some top-quality leather products.
- Rub the snout of “Il Porcellino” and put a coin in his mouth for some good luck.
- Go for a walk along the River Arno.
- If you have time, go on a Tuscan wine tour and participate in a cooking class (something we unfortunately didn’t get around to)!
- Drink wine with every meal.
- Eat as much Italian food as you can!
In our next post, we will talk about all things sweet – hot chocolates, gelato, waffles and crepes – in beautiful Firenze.
Until next time… buon appetito!
The Allergian Abroad