When I think of Italy, all I imagine is the amazing pasta, bruschetta, pizza, gelato, and wine that are consumed daily. When friends and family heard I would be studying abroad in the heart of Italy – Florence – they would all coo about the mouth-watering food. After living in Florence for 4.5 months, I’ve learned some tricks about how to find the best restaurants to eat at or what to look for in the food markets, and I am here to help you discover some amazing foods!
- Let’s begin with the market. There are several large markets that offer fresh foods such as vegetables, fruit, cheeses, nuts, and pastas. Its best to go early in the morning and with the knowledge of what is in season. You can find some of the largest, ripest strawberries, bright red apples, crisp lettuce, and large heads of broccoli. Further inside the market you will find fresh uncooked pasta that can be ready to take home and cook that night, as well as large soft mozzarella balls and wheels upon wheels of a variety of cheeses.
- When looking for the best quality restaurants, you want to find something hidden from the main strip of the city, something small with real, authentic Italian food. Although Dante’s pizza, Yellow Bar, and Gusta Pizza are all amazing restaurants, they cater more to the American student population in Florence. To find where the Italians prefer to eat, I suggest leaving the main roads of Florence, and getting lost in the parts where tourist levels are diminished and more Italians live. You can also always ask your favorite café owner or anyone who lives in Florence, like I did. They always offer some of the best advice on where the hidden gems are located.
- And lastly, my favorite food of Italy – gelato! On every corner you turn, your bound to spot at least 3 gelato shops within 200 feet of each other. Some advice when choosing gelato places would be to look at the quality of the gelato. Real, authentic gelato is level with the container it is in. The “fake” gelato – as most Italians call it – is stacked high and brightly colored to attract tourist eyes. This is still gelato, however fillers are used rather than the true recipe. True gelato is creamy, thick, and usually less than 2 euro for 1 scoop. You will find your favorites around the city, get to know the owners, and maybe stop in a couple times a week, or even every day – something I did often.
With all this in mind, have fun exploring the city of Florence as much as I did. The food is definitely something else, and once you return to America, pizza and pasta will never be the same. But until then, enjoy every moment, and try EVERYTHING, trust me, you won’t regret it!
St. Mary’s College of California
I studied abroad through SAI at Florence University of the Arts taking 5 classes in the subjects art and Christianity. I found that studying art in Italy surrounded by the real historical artifacts gave me a new perspective and I felt that it really contributed to my ability to absorb the significance of the art and culture of the city. In my Introduction to Art History Class, I learned about different architectural styles and when traveling to different countries I was able to put that knowledge to use; something I could never have done before. In my History of Christianity class we learned about various religions and it opened my eyes to the different cultures I found myself encountering in my travels. My experience in international education contributed to my growth and maturity as a person.