Stephen and I arrived in Florence from Monterosso earlier than planned after skipping a pit stop at Pisa because I was still in no shape to explore. It took every effort to walk from the train station to our Airbnb where I promptly fell into bed and slept until it was time to find dinner. I felt well enough to wander the city, but not enough to actually eat anything. We ventured to a restaurant on my map, which specialized in wild boar pasta and ordered one plate for Stephen. It was only 5pm, the restaurant had just opened and I don’t think they were expecting diners yet. Our plate arrived quickly and looked delicious. Unfortunately the gamey aroma of the wild boar did not mix well with my unsettled stomach. Luckily, Stephen’s a fast eater and we were soon on our way back to bed. I made it a whole block before emptying my stomach over a sewer grate. It was time to call it a day.
After 12 hours of sleep I felt more human like and up for sightseeing. We took the day slowly with lots of stops and water. I was determined to recover in time to enjoy our Bistecca alla Florentina.
Places to See
Our first stop was the Florence Cathedral with its stunning exterior. We walked the entire perimeter, making sure not to miss the building from any angle. Inside, the interiors were simple and unadorned, save for the painted dome ceiling. Free tours were available in English that were quite informative. In between munching on sandwiches, I loved checking out the street vendors selling leather goods near Central Market. There was a black leather backpack that I fell in love with. While Stephen and I tried to figure out if I had the luggage room to bring the bag home, the seller took my indecisiveness for haggling and kept lowering his price. Alas, I ended up walking away, but I still think about that bag with a touch of regret!
Sandwiches to Eat
I Due Fratellini – A literal hole-in-the wall spot, famous for their Tuscan bread, fresh ingredients and wine. With 30 sandwiches to choose from making a decision was hard. There was a small counter to place orders and the wall behind was filed with shelves of wine. The shop was easy to spot with a line outside and a crowd of people munching on sandwiches and sipping red wine. We stuck to a basic prosciutto filling, which was exquisite, salty and savoury, exactly what I needed.
L’Antico Trippaio – Lampredotto, cow tripe, is a famous Florentine dish and a must eat. For us, tripe isn’t exactly a unique or odd ingredient (actually one of my favourite foods to hotpot or at dim sum) but for many it could be considered exotic. Slow-cooked and seasoned, the Florentine version of tripe was tender and flavourful. The sandwich we tried at this sandwich stand was also super spicy.
Mercato Centrale Firenze – By the time we made our way to Florence Central Market, a full meal was out of the question (especially since we still had dinner in a few hours). Open from 10am to midnight, the two storey, covered market was a delight to window shop and a great rest spot. I was blown away by the selection of vendors, from fresh seafood and sushi to hamburgers and of course all the tuscany specialties. We snacked on a plate of prosciutto with a glass of wine before heading home for our afternoon nap. If we had more time in Florence, I would’ve loved to spend more time wandering the market.