A picnic fit for a Medici
Where to grab picnic supplies in downtown Florence for an excellent cheap meal
Whether you want to take your Florentine picnic sitting around Piazza della Signoria, in the Bellosguardo Hills, at a spot on the wall overlooking the Arno River, or just back in your hotel room, here are a few prime shops in the heart of the historic center for picking up cheap but excellent fresh foods for a quick meal in Florence.
Be careful where you snack
Many monuments in Italy are now off-limits for panino munching, gelato licking, and even just plain old sitting on the steps—including the steps in front of Florence's Duomo (which, as of 2012, are beingcordoned off during daylight hours so you cannot even sit on them).
You will likely just get a stern talking-to by police or local authorities.
Persist, however, and you could get slapped with a $650 fine.Conveniently, both are on a short street running between Via del Corso and the little Piazza de' Cimatori with the famous tripe stand, about halfway between the cathedral and the Palazzo Vecchio/Uffizi (and are practically the only everyday Florentine shops remaining amid the glut of tourist-oriented stores on these bustling downtown streets).
When I want a light meal of excellent bread, pastries, or a focaccia—either plain, sauced and cheesed to make pizza, or split and stuffed with meat and cheese—I head to the popular bakery Forno Sartoni (Via de' Cerchi 34r). Sometimes you have to elbow through the crowds—Florentines flock here at morning breaks, lunchtime, and just after work during the passeggiata to fill up on comfort snack foods—but that's only a sign of how good the joint is.
Just remember: after you place your order, the woman behind the counter will total it up and hand you a receipt; while she's wrapping up your goodies for you, turn around and pay the lady at the cash register on the opposite wall, who will give you another receipt, which you then turn around and hand back to the first woman behind the counter in exchange for your bag of food. (Hey, don't look at me; I didn't invent this quirky Italian system.)
To make Mom happy (and keep you healthy), bolster the bread with some fresh fruit and vegetables at nearby Mauro Frutta (Via de' Cerchi 16r, tel. 055-295-452).
This material was last updated January 2011. All information was accurate at the time.
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