Florentine food tour? Count me in!
Syracuse University in Florence puts a big emphasis on students getting to know the city they’re living in. One of the ways they help with this is by offering a few trips called “Insider’s Florence.” Last Saturday’s Insider’s Florence was particularly appealing to me – it was a food tour. We were told to bring our appetites and a sense of adventure and to prepare to both taste and learn about some of the best that Florence has to offer.
We started the day with a trip to a local pastry shop for a “typical” Italian breakfast. We learned that Italians generally tend to choose sweets for their first meal of the day, and then we learned about the different types of pastries and how to order them in Italian. I chose a fruit and custard pastry (shown above). It was delicious!
Then, we headed across the street to a coffee shop that takes particular pride in its coffee. Here, we learned about the differences between Italian and American coffee (espresso, anyone?) and at which times of the day it’s appropriate to drink which types of coffee.
We learned that the cappuccino – a favorite among American students and visitors – is traditionally never taken after noontime. Why? Italians suspect that warm milk is bad for your digestion after lunch. However, since it was still early, we were able to enjoy the foamy treat anyway. Plus – we got to see how it was made!
Now properly caffeinated, it was time for us to head toward Florence’s Sant’Ambrogio Market. The market’s been in operation since 1873 and is still a favorite among locals today. I can see why! The wide variety of fruits and vegetables, homemade pastas and sauces, fish, meats, cheeses and other specialty products – almost all of which are made or grown in Italy – was mind-boggling.
Having worked up a bit of an appetite after seeing the market, it was time to learn about another Italian tradition – appertivo. Appertivo sort-of like an extended appetizer, complete with drinks and small snacks. It’s usually enjoyed before dinner time, but since the tour didn’t last through dinner, we had it before lunch instead.
A finished appertivo meant that it was time for lunch! We made our way toward the city’s center to a little restaurant serving up traditional Tuscan staples. Here, a healthy sense of adventure was almost more important than a healthy appetite.
Italian meals are almost always served in multiple courses. Our first course featured a sampling of Tuscan meats.
Then came a sampling of traditional sides dishes.
Lastly, the main course.
After eating all that, we were left wondering how we could possibly fit anything else in our stomachs. But of course, there is *always* room for gelato.
Nothing like a sweet treat to end the tour with!
(They also gave us each one of those little cards that you get stamped every time you go to eventually get a free gelato. This might be dangerous.)
Gelato Count: 21