I recently read that food is one of the best way to travel: you discover and experience the real side of any place by eating its food. I agree even more after taking the new food tour of Eating Italy in the Oltrarno area in Florence. Here some information for your food tour in Oltrarno!
The sweet side of the Arno
Oltrarno is literally the other side of the Arno, the left side of the city. It’s where local people lives and hang out; it’s where the artisans have their workshops and where some of the best restaurants are. So, if you want to start your day in Oltrarno as a Florentines do, you need caffè e pasta, a coffee and a pastry. You should order a macchiatone and one budino di riso; macchiatone is a coffee espresso served in a large cup with hot milk. So it’s a caffè macchiato in tazza grande 🙂 Budino di riso is another typical food of Florence and surroundings. It’s kinda of a rice pudding with a base of shortbread filled with creamy rise. The recipe comes from grandmas’ books, who used to prepare on Sundays and holidays.
Something really good to eat to bring back home with you, are the Biscotti alle mandorle, sometimes called Biscotti di Prato. Roberto has been making these typical biscuits for almost 70 years in his lab at Pasticceria Buonamici, now owned by his daughter Rossella. He started when he was 12, as you see in the picture in his workshop, and overcame the terrible flood in 1966 that destroyed his workshop. Don’t miss the original recipes’ book of his family and the touching black and white pictures hanging in Roberto’s lab where he creates his delicious biscuits!
Street food: what locals eat and drink
You cannot visit Florence without eating lampredotto and trippa, the original Florentine street food. Omar, Eating Italy excellent Florentine guide, explained really well the differences between these two local specialties: trippa, which I like the most, is the edible lining of cow’s first three stomachs, while lampredotto is the forth and final stomach of the cow.
Lampredotto is generally served with a rosetta, salty bread roll, and green sauce or salsa verde, after being slow-cooked in vegetable broth; trippa is generally prepared alla fiorentina, i.e. with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. I suggest you try both when you stop at the historical kiosk of Simone in Piazza de’ Nerli, just few steps from Porta San Frediano.
The best pair to lampredotto is a glass of Chianti wine at Fiaschetteria Fantappiè. A fiaschetteria sells good local and Italian wines by the glass, but also by the fiasco (typical Tuscan wine bottle). You bring in your empty bottle and Luca fills it with local wine. This historical wine shop, kinda of bistro in Via de’ Serragli, was opened by Luca’s father, Rodolfo in 1947.
The lunch and the heroes
I was really happy to discover I’ Raddi, a typical Florentine trattoria in Oltrarno. In Italy a trattoria is more formal than an osteria, but less than a restaurant. I’ Raddi It takes the name from its first owner Luciano Raddi, famous Florentine boxeur from the 50s and 60s and player of Bianchi di Santo Spirito of Calcio Storico Fiorentino.
Nowadays the restaurant is owned by three 100% Florentines from Oltrarno and one of them is also a famous player of Calcio Storico, actually the restaurant is the meeting point of most players and supporters. Here you can taste some of the best and most typical food sharing a table with locals. The tasting menu included the original Crostini neri, bruschetta bread with chicken-paté, pappa al pomodoro and ribollita, both are soups made with Tuscan bread, and peposo all’imprunetina, whose recipe was invented by Brunelleschi himself in the Renaissance.
I loved this brand new food tour of Oltrarno Eating Italy, because I really enjoyed the food tour of Testaccio last winter in Rome. The tour lasts about 4 hours and includes 9 stops with lots of good food to taste, from breakfast to ice cream. The tour guides are local people and have a great knowledge of the city and its traditions, so even if I’m a local too, I enjoyed all the information provided by Omar.
Eating Italy Oltrarno tour is not only about food, but also about the history and the art of Florence, as well as about the stories of the people that live the Oltrarno. It guides you through less crowded streets of the other side of the Arno, introduce you to the best local food shops and provide a lot of great information.
I recommend it to all of you that want to experience the real Florence thanks to food!