Gelato. This Italian style ice cream truly needs no further introduction.
During my recent (or come to think of it, not so recent) trip to Florence, I completely overindulged on this gem of a dessert. I lost count of how many scoops of gelato I consumed – though in my defence, it was very hot and I needed a good way to cool down. And judging from the roaring business of the gelaterias, I suspect I’m not the only one with this mindset.
As you can see, we consumed a fair amount of gelato during our trip. (We actually ate a lot more than what you see in the photos, but I didn’t want to scare you all with the sheer amount of it all…) We visited about 4-5 gelaterias throughout the trip, but two of them stood out – these are the two I shall blog about here. Do note that there are a fair number of ‘tourist trap’ gelaterias which serve not-very-good gelato at very high prices. You should only expect to pay about 3-4 euro for a medium sized cup.
I mentioned previously that one of the waiters in I’Tozzo di Pane recommended his favourite gelateria to us. And I’m very glad he did, or I doubt we would have found the place! Gelateria La Carraia is slightly further off the normal tourist routes (it’s a 10-15 minute walk from Ponte Vecchio) but I can safely say the walk is worth it. Plus, you can eat more gelato under the guise that you’ve “earned it”. Sort of, anyway.
This place was ALWAYS filled with people each time we paid them a visit (and we went at different times of the day!). Which is always a good sign, especially since they’re not in the main tourist areas. An extra plus is how a large majority of their customers were locals. The gelato here was very good – creamy and very flavoursome. Prices are also more reasonable compared to some of the other gelaterias dotted all around Florence (cones start at 1 euro and go up to 3 euro, cups start at 1.30 euro and go up to 6 euros for a massive cup). My favourite flavours were pistachio (pistacchio) and coconut (cocco), whilst R was a huge fan of the lemon (limone).
The other gelateria which we found ourselves going back to was Perche No!. It took us a while to find this gelateria, much to our initial dismay. Imagine how silly we felt when we finally found it on a street that we’d walked by countless times! It’s true that you never notice something unless you’re actually looking out for it. Anyway.
My favourite flavour here was the sesame (fiordilatte miele e sesamo) – the one on the far right in the photo above. As I enjoyed this so much, I was delighted to find that they had a brief description of each of the flavours on their website. Turns out that the sesame gelato is made from mozzarella, sesame caramel and Mugello chesnut honey. Mozzarella! I definitely didn’t even think that it contained cheese of any sort – perhaps this explains why I enjoyed it as much as I did (I looove cheese you see). This was a perfect combination though, and the crunchy bits of sesame caramel went really well with the creamy gelato.
In between all the gelato eating, we also managed to find the time to eat some sandwiches. Even before I set off on the plane, I had two such places highlighted on my list of “places to eat in”.
Da Nerbone is situated in the Mercato Centrale, which is Florence’s food market. They only open for lunch, and are famed for serving excellent Fiorentine “cucina povera” (poor people’s food). From what I could gather, the menu consisted a few pasta dishes, some soups and sandwiches. The sandwiches are the main event here though. There was a huge crowd of both locals and tourists each time we walked past the stall, which is always something I use to judge how good the food is. Food is also cheap, you’ll probably spend only 5-8 euros per person when eating here.
The tripe sandwich (trippa alla fiorentina). Tripe is basically parts of the stomach of the animal (usually a cow), and is very popular in this part of Italy. Now, I have an admission to make: I don’t like eating offal of any sort. It’s not that I find it disgusting, but I just don’t like the texture of it. But I’d heard so much about this sandwich that I knew I had to try it. And I managed to eat it all – so that in itself tells you that it must have been a darn good sandwich. The tripe was cooked well and was beautifully tender. Topped with the green sauce (which contained some parsley amongst a lot of other ingredients, I bet) – yum. One thing to note here is that the bread used is not of the soft variety, and is slightly hard. I suspect this is so the bread can soak up all the wonderful juices of the tripe. I’m not complaining though, as I wouldn’t want my sandwich to turn soggy and fall apart in my hands!
The other sandwich that’s highly popular is the panino con bollito – a boiled beef sandwich that’s bagnato (dipped in the meat juices). Pure genius, this is. I love that the bread is dipped in the meat juices before the sandwich is put together, as it makes for a very juicy and flavoursome sandwich. The beef was again beautifully tender, and was topped with their familiar green sauce. If I must be honest, I preferred this – it didn’t taste as “slimy”. I’d still quite happily eat either though!
The other popular sandwich place is Il Fratellini. It’s known as “the hole in the wall” because that’s what it is – a tiny stall in what looks like a hollowed out wall. No seating is available, but customers are more than happy to eat on the sidewalks. The menu is on two boards next to the counter, and they have approximately 30 variants on the menu. With most of the sandwiches only costing 2.50 euro, this place is great for a quick lunch or snack. In fact, we bought some sandwiches for our last dinner in Florence – we had a plane to catch in the evening and didn’t have time for a proper sit down dinner, so we packed the sandwiches and ate them when we got to the airport.
Wildboar salami with butter. If you look closely, you’ll note that the butter is served in beautiful thick chunks here. Utter perfection (as this is how I eat freshly baked bread – with similarly thick chunks of butter). The wildboar salami tastes meatier compared to normal salami, and makes me wish wildboar was something that was more available in London.
So that rounds up most of the food I ate in Florence. (See here for part 1 and part 2.) Writing this post makes me yearn for the food, and for that reason I’m sure it won’t be long before I visit again.
Gelateria La Carraia
Piazza N. Sauro 25/r
Via Tavolini 19r
Mercato Centrale (Stall no. 292)
Via dei Cimatori 38/r
I know this post is fast becoming one that is too long, but I wanted to share some photos I took during my trip. No more words, I’ll let the photos do the talking.