One of the staple foods of Tuscany is bread, or as the Italians call it, pane toscano.
And what does one do with bread? You make a sandwich. The Italian panino is unlike any sandwich you’ll ever taste. The melt-in-your-mouth cheese, the thinly sliced meat and the smooth olive oil combine to make a meal you’ll be wanting to have over and over. While visiting Florence, make sure to check out these 5 sandwich shops and you’ll never want to go back to a boring old PB&J again.
If you’re only going to have one sandwich while in Florence, it has to be from All’antico Vinaio.
The Mazzanti family has been artfully crafting their traditional, Tuscan style sandwiches since 1991. They use only the finest ingredients, from their freshly baked bread, to the authentic Italian prosciutto and mozzarella. It is considered a celebrity in the world of Italian street food, earning titles such as “home of the world’s best sandwich.” Being so popular, the lines get to be insanely long, so don’t go during the lunch rush. They’ve also opened up two other locations due to the high foot traffic, so if one location is too busy you can always try the other two.
Highly recommended: the prosciutto sandwich with mozzarella, arugula, tomato, olive oil. Add balsamic if you’re feeling adventurous.
Via Giuseppe Verdi, 36 R, 50122 Florence, Italy (map)
Also known as Pino’s Sandwiches, Salumeria Verdi is where all the American college kids go when they’re studying abroad, and it’s not just because of the free Wi-Fi. The owner, Pino, is the Italian uncle you never had. He makes sure to get to know each and every face that walks in his shop, and is always cracking jokes and asking about your days in Italy. Right as you walk in you’ll notice the many American college pennants hanging behind the counter, as college students send them to him as thanks for the great sandwiches and hospitality he presents. He also offers wine tastings, which are extremely popular. If you like pesto, his version is a must get, and he also offers homemade pasta dishes if you’re not in the mood for a sandwich.
The Oil Shoppe
If you’re looking for a sandwich inspired mainly by American traditions, try The Oil Shoppe. With over 29 sandwich varieties to choose from, and side options such as french fries and onion rings, this place certainly caters toward those coming from overseas. That doesn’t mean that you’re sacrificing the use of Italian ingredients however; all the products used in the kitchen are exclusively made in Italy. It’s The Oil Shoppe’s goal to combine American flavors with care for the typical cuisine details of the Italian tradition.
Insider Tip: Italians don’t know the concept of either an iced coffee or a large coffee, so if you’re looking for that venti iced coffee fix, come here. Their coffee is creamy, sweet, and delicious, and comes in a cup big enough for that morning or afternoon pick-me-up.
I Due Fratellini
For those who don’t want a huge sandwich stuffed with all the fixin’s, head over to I Due Fratellini. Born in 1875, this shop has been preparing sandwiches with top quality ingredients from Tuscany in the historic center of Florence. You can find up to 30 combinations of sandwiches or make your own, though you’re limited to about 2-3 ingredients. Make sure you don’t order more than one kind of meat either, as it’s considered “sinful” to mix multiple meats in sandwiches. They say it takes away from the simple but delicious flavors of the ingredients. I Due Fratellini also prides itself on accompanying your sandwiches with the perfect glass of wine so make sure to partake in that delicious tradition.
Wine About It: If you want a real Tuscan wine experience, ask for a Chianti. It’s their classic red wine made from grapes in the Chianti region of Tuscany.
Pane & Toscana
This place is definitely more hole-in-the-wall than some of the other sandwich places, but it also has some of the best sandwich bread in Florence. Warm, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, it is the perfect accompaniment to the various meats and cheeses they have. For all you vegetarians out there, there are also plenty of veggie options that aren’t just arugula and cheese. There isn’t a lot of seating available here, so if you’re looking for a sandwich on the go, this is the place for you. The owners are extremely friendly, and at about €5 a sandwich, you can’t beat it.