Would you like to spend an evening drinking Italian wines and stuffing your face with local treats? The Roman Guy has got you covered… (Unless you are vegan, in which case, this tour might not be for you…) I recommend this tour for those who only have limited time in Florence and would like to sample some of the traditional dishes whilst learning about the local food and drink culture.
We met our local guide at Piazza della Signoria, which is located by Palazzo Vecchio and the statue of David (it’s a replica… or is it…?). Whilst we waited for the others (not everyone is as punctual as a Finn…) we could admire the buildings and many statues around us. The guide was also very friendly and knowledgeable about the city.
Our first stop was a nearby meat and sandwich shop. This is a typical lunch and aperitivo place where they offer simple but delicious pasta dishes, cold cuts, cheeses, paninis and local delicacy, lamprodetto, which is made of pig’s stomach (also known as tripe). I tried it and thought it was actually very tasty, I’m just not too keen on the texture. But it’s worth a try, and most of our group really loved it. We also sampled a selection of meats and bruschetta and they serve you plenty of wine with the food. A lovely little place. I’d definitely go back for a panini.
After eating A LOT of food at the first venue, it was time to walk across the Ponte Vecchio and to our next stop in Oltrarno. We visited a lovely wine shop that offers both wine and olive oil tastings and snacks to go with it. Service here was great so I am already planning my next visit!
We tried Chianti from 2015 as this was an exceptionally good year for the grapes, and a Tuscan white wine together with a selection of crostini with truffle. I found this part of the tour very informative, as it’s nice to learn more about the wine region, truffles and olives. Did you know the best time to do an olive oil tasting is in November?
I liked that we didn’t have to run by a tight schedule and we had time to sit and chat. I guess it is the Italian way, senza fretta (without rush)! After we’d eventually emptied our plates and glasses, we headed to Piazza Santo Spirito, which is a very happening area in Florence. Oltrarno, with its many restaurants, bars and art stores, is a very popular neighbourhood amongst the locals.
We did a quick pit stop at the bakery before walking to a nearby restaurant for primi and traditional Florentine steak (an enormous lump of meat!!).
The restaurant has a long history and it was nice to learn more about the eating traditions whilst sipping vino della casa. I was slightly disappointed to realise the restaurant is a tourist destination and was empty by 9pm. This means locals don’t eat there. Italians tend to eat late. If the restaurant is full even after 10pm, you know locals support it as well. Saying that, I enjoyed the food, especially the slightly spicy primi.
Our final stop was a gelateria, where we got to choose two unique flavours. Here they had proper Italian ice cream and none of that artificial stuff. A basic rule of thumb when buying gelato in Italy is to choose a gelateria where the ice cream is either covered with lids or is presented flat instead of in a huge mountain of gelato.
There were ten of us on the tour, but apparently the number is usually smaller, making it more intimate. It was great to meet people from other parts of the world, have a chat and enjoy some interesting traditional Tuscan foods. After the gelato it was time to go our different ways. I, however, had so much fun I ended up having one more glass of wine (one for the road) with the loveliest Canadian couple.
For more information about The Roman Guy and their tours in Italy, head over their website.
* I chose not to name the venues visited as these may change depending on availability and it’s nice to have some surprises during the tour!
** Disclaimer: The tour was complimentary, but as always, all the words and opinions are my own.