Story by Alyssa Bilotta
“If your mother cooks Italian food, why should you go to a restaurant?” – Martin Scorsese
Food was a major part of my experience when I studied abroad in Florence. Eating any type of meal in Italy is an event, and food holds a special place in every Italian’s day. Ever since I was kid, I would hear my Italian grandmother’s stories about Sunday dinners or Holiday feasts. The most noticeable difference between eating at a restaurant in Italy versus the U.S. is that Italian Osteria’s and Enoteca’s don’t rush you at all during your meal. Eating dinner is a calm and extended social event, and I came to cherish the fact that life moves much more slowly in Tuscany.
The daily menu for an Italian is in contrast with of an American. Breakfast in Italy is typically simple—a slice of bread or a cornetti (Italian croissant) and an espresso. This fact was quite hard to get used to at first because I missed having a huge breakfast filled with eggs, pancakes, and bacon. Lunch and dinner make up for the dainty breakfast; however, and they are much more glamorous affairs, with each consisting of three courses.
Below I have listed three restaurants in Florence that will forever hold a special place in my mind. Granted, nearly any restaurant you walk into in Italy will be delicious; however, I picked each of these restaurants because they of the memories they hold.
Gusta Pizza is famous among study abroad students in Florence. Whenever I met other students, we all discussed how delicious Gusta Pizza was. Located steps away from Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens, you can order a pizza to go and eat it on the steps of a palace just like my roommates and I did. I even took my family here when they came to visit me, and we also took our pizzas to go and ate them outside of Palazzo Pitti. They have five standard pizzas and rotate daily specials. A little tip: order the original Margherita pizza and ask for pesto on top!
Osteria Il Gatto E La Volpe
Known for its huge portions and reasonable prices, it’s not hard easy to see why Osteria Il Gatto E La Volpe is another favorite among study abroad students. My roommates and I ate dinner here several times over the course of a month In fact, this restaurant was the first and last place we all dined together as citizens of Florence.
La Reggia degli Etruschi*
*This restaurant is actually in Fiesole, not Florence.
Fiesole is a gorgeous Tuscan town at the top of a mountain overlooking all of Tuscany, a quick bus ride or cab away from Florence. Since Fiesole is perched on a hill, the panoramic view alone is worth the trip. Make sure you dine at La Reggia degli Etruschi during sunset, and you can sit outside and enjoy the picturesque views while dining on delicious wine, cheese, and pasta. My roommates and I traveled up to Fiesole on a glorious summer evening, and we were seated at a scenic table outside on the terrace. While admiring the breathtaking views of Tuscany, we enjoyed Italian antipasto as an appetizer. After we stuffed ourselves with more homemade Italian food, we unanimously agreed the pasta was the best we had ever eaten.