Want to know one of the first things I book when visiting a new city?
A food tour!
Here’s what I love about food tours: you are learning the history of a new place through EXPERIENCING it, trying new foods, meeting new people and stepping out of your comfort zone.
At the beginning of the summer, my friend Rachel and I had the opportunity to go on Eating Europe’s Florence Sunset Food Tour. This trip was both of our first times to Florence and unfortunately, we only had the one quick evening to explore this BEAUTIFUL city. WOW it was not long enough. I LOVED Florence and will 100000% be back someday.
In the short time we had there, the Eating Europe food tour was the absolute perfect intro into the city’s San Frediano area. Our food tour group consisted of our two fantastic guides: Lisa and Beatrice, a sweet couple from England, and Rachel and I!
Our first stop was exactly how true Florentine people would begin an evening out: with an apertif. We wandered into a cute little bar that had a Negroni making station set up for each of us.
With equal parts Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth the Negroni is not too difficult to make. First you cool down your glass with some ice cubes, then you add the liquids, stir and add in a sliver of orange for additional flavor. It is a staple in Italy for being refreshing, but also preparing your palate and stomach for the meal to come. We enjoyed our Negronis with a side of green olives and crusty bread. Saluti!
From there, we ventured on to our next destination… the cutest cheese shop “Alimentari Sandro & Ivana.” Which was run by an adorable couple, Marzio and Katiuscia, who have been together since their teen years! This stop might have been our favorite. We sampled a lifechangingly scrumptious Truffle Cheese and Finocchiona salami as well as a few other locally crafted meats and breads. Rachel loved it so much that she actually bought some of the cheese and salami (they had it vacuum packed so it would be ok to travel with) to bring home!
Of course, no Italian cuisine tour would be complete without its fair share of wine. At our next destination we tried a signature “loose wine” or vino sfuso. Vino Sfuso used to be the common way for Italians to acquire their wine. Wineries would allow people to come and fill their own vessels with wine straight from the barrel. It’s almost like the equivalent of filling a growler with your favorite beer at a craft brewery.
Everyone on the tour got the opportunity to fill their own glass from the barrel of wine which we savored alongside a ‘Lardo di Colonnata crostino.’
Now I will be honest, the word “Lard” does not sound very tasty to me. But what we had here was extremely delicious! Lardo is cured pig’s back fat that tastes kind of like the fatty part of a slice of prosciutto. It’s salty and rich and complements the unsalted style of Tuscan bread that is common in Florence perfectly.
Stop 5 brought us to a cozy wine shop where we had (you guessed it!) more wine (this time we had a choice of either red or white) paired with two different small dishes. The first was a DECADENT panzanella salad. Panzanella salad is a cold salad made of soaked bread, tomatoes and sometimes basil and onions. It is SO refreshing and delicious I could’ve eatena a huge bowl of it. After that, we were served Trippa alla Fiorentina aka Florentine-style tripe served hot in a tomato sauce with parmesan. Honestly, tripe is not really my thing but I was surprised when I tried it that I actually didn’t mind the flavor or texture!
Finally, for the main course, we ventured to a local trattoria to experience the Florentine tradition of Bistecca allla Fiorentina “the kind of Florentine cuisine.” The table was all set up and awaiting our arrival.
We were ushered through the restaurant and into the kitchen where we were shown how to distinguish Florentine beef and how it is prepared. Alongside our meat we also enjoyed cannelli beans served in a traditional manor which were delicious. But my favorite part of perhaps the whole tour were these little balls of pizza dough. They were served piping hot alongside some soft cheese and thinly sliced proscioutto.
Our guides instruced us to cut the balls about half way through, take some of the cheese and meat and stuff it inside to make a little sandwich. HOLY COW. I could live off of those things. I’m drooling just thinking about it. Legit I would fly back to Florence just to eat these pizza ball creations.
Just about any good meal in Tuscany ends with Cantucci and Vin santo, a selection of almond biscotti dunked in sweet wine. We savored this delicacy while enjoying the vibe of Santo Spirito square!
All in all, the food tour was a fantastic way to get a great sense of Florence in a short amount of time. We really enjoyed meeting the rest of the group and learning from our tour guides. And of course, THE FOOD! was a 10/10.
Check out the food tour here.
Check out my Rome and Positano guide here.
Watch my YouTube video of our food tour experience here.