During my trip to Florence in 2007, the food did not leave much of an impression on me. I remember having great breakfasts in the morning, ones that consisted of good espresso and something like a croissant. And I recall a sumptuous bowl of Tuscan stew, but beyond that nothing that stuck out.
That was 100% my fault. So sorry, Florence. I was wrong.
Like we did in Kyoto, Mr. Misadventures and I requested a custom Context Travel tour, Florence for Foodies. And as usual, the Context Travel team and Adrienne, our guide, delivered an exceptional, food-focused experience.
At the end of our tour, what I came to understand was that the most important aspect of Tuscan food is simplicity. Everything is fresh, no need to label anything organic, all food is organic here! People shop for one day or two and visit small shops focused on a single product or category of products.
We met Adrienne in the Piazza della Repubblica right after we had enjoyed a delicious espresso and I drooled at the sweets display.
We began our food pilgrimage at Procacci, a beautiful truffle shop belonging to the Antinori wine family. We sampled (and then ordered more!) of their house specialty, Panini tartufati, a small sandwich with a special truffle cream. Just inhaling the air in this shop is pure heaven and the locals arrive in the late afternoon for a glass of prosecco and Panini tartufate as an apertivo.
We walked around with Adrienne pointing out a bit of history about some of the buildings (mostly owned by wine families in the area) and little unique elements such as the original “drive-thru” windows. The noblemen would drive up to the window for a glass of wine and then hit the road.
We stopped at a local bakery to sample a few Tuscan specialties, both sweet and savory. Most bread, except some focaccia, doesn’t have salt. The salt comes from the pecorino, prosciutto, and salami and is not needed in the bread. The reason? Centuries before, the Pope charged a steep tax on salt, so the merchants evoked “Me ne frego” (“I don’t give a damn!”) and they did without. And they still do today.
Snacking on sweets called for a coffee to chase the sugar, we visited Café Giacosa, the café where Negroni cocktails were invented. A few years back the café was purchased by Roberto Cavalli, he tried to rename the café, but the Florentines protested as it had such history and the name was reverted. We tried a lovely budino made with something like a patisserie cream mixed with rice.
What I loved about this spot (and all the places we went to were full of locals). At Giacosa, there were businessmen standing around eating their bowls of pasta, going back for seconds and quickly drinking down their espressos before heading back to work.
During our five days in Florence, we visited Café Giacosa quite a few times!
Mr. Misadventures and I use/eat a lot of olive oil, so Adrienne took us to the store where she buys hers, La Bottega dell’Olio, or as I like to call it, heaven! Different types of olive oil are used with different dishes, whether it is to dip into, put on top of pasta or marinating, it is not one size fits all. We tasted several olive oils from regions all over Italy as well as balsamic vinegar, I never wanted to leave.
Last stop was a grocery store. More like the traiteurs I am familiar in France. But it’s a store you can sit down and eat in as well.
Which we did. Of course, we did!
With pecorino, parmesan, prosciutto and salami toscano. Oh and wine.
The Grana Market is family run and the store that Adrienne goes to for its parmesan, after sampling some with balsamic vinegar drizzled on top, I understood why.
Just when I thought I could not eat anymore, we were done.
In reality, we spent three-plus hours on a fantastic food journey through the street of Florence with an exceptional guide, something I have come to expect from Context Travel.
This is not a regular tour, but I recommend that Context considers adding it! It is a great way to meet locals and see how they eat on a daily basis, really Florence is a wonderful town for Foodies!
How about you? Have you been to Florence? What was your favorite food item? If you haven’t, what do you think you would like to try? Comment and share!
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