Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Florence Italy: Where to eat solo


Florence Mercato Centrale could be the BEST food court ever!



The San Lorenzo Market may be best know for the lively local market on the first floor:  meats, fish, cheese, fruits and vegetables as well as my favorite Panetteria (delicatessen) Clara's  where you can ask for a custom sandwich or the makings of a picnic.  boot #27. 

The building dates from 1874  with soaring ceilings and windows with wrought iron. 

After many solo trips to Italy I try to develop a list of restaurants I am comfortable eating solo.

With the conversion of the second floor to a massive upscale 'food court' it has become my BEST SOLO dining location in Florence.   There are a large variety of venues that offer freshly prepared foods.  


On a visit early in the day I could choose a coffee on the first floor where many of the vendors were stopping for a quick espresso or take a a cappuccino and cornetto on the second floor where there are many tables and no rush to vacate your seat.

A nice way to have a 10 or 11 am break to check email (wifi connections in the entire building) or plan you next venture exploring Florence.

It may annoy the sellers when a 'tourist' asks for a small quantity:  one roll, one apple or a few slices of cheese.   I had my hand slapped when I tried to select an apple and was asked 'which one do you want'.  The vendor then put the selected item on the scale to weigh it.   Sadly with the renovation some of the vendors are no longer in the market.  My favorite was an ancient woman who did not want a photo taken but did tell me she had been selling there for many years. 



By 4 or 5 pm the market slows before the dinner rush.  If you have skipped lunch this is a good time to try beef at La Carne e Salumi, Il Pesce Fresco (fresh fish), La Mozzaella di Bugala, I formaggi (with a wide assortment of cheeses) and the tempting il Cioccolato and il gelato bar.  Perhaps I should start here on my next visit




By lunch time the entire building is humming.   Shoppers picking up fresh ingredients for the nightly meal stand 2 or 3 deep at the first floor counters.  Vendors address shoppers by name since I expect they return to the stand they have purchased from for years. 
  
Ramondo Mendolia, La Pasta Frsca
La Pasta Fresca was my choice for an early dinner.  You choose from the selection of fresh pasta and a sauce.  the pasta is cooked while you wait and served with chees on top.
The owner Ramondo Mendolia, was working and kindly chatted with me while my pasta was cooking.  Having his own business had been his dream.   He is hands on and the hours are long, from lunch to the late closing 7 days a week.   When many restaurants close one or two days a week it is wonderful for the traveler to find a place where you can find a meal at any time of the day.  Pasta and sauce is available to take home and enjoy.  




Fresh breads, rolls and of course CAKE
Pizza by the slice with a variety of toppings.

Solo Lunch:  This is a much more crowded time of day and with limited Italian language skills I try to select something that is easy to pronounce or something I can point to.   There is a pasta outlet with featured fresh pastas offered each day.   Of course pizza, a vegetarian stand where you order fresh juices, soups and salads.  I sampled the assortment of fried vegetables and chicken.   I could not manage trying the fired rabbit........   So far the meals were all around $8 to $10 USA. 



There is a cooking school in the market as well as several shops with kitchen products,
books and wine.

There is a large wine vendor where you can select a bottle or a glass.
The knowledgeable woman behind the counter knew exactly what to suggest to the man searching for a bottle. 
  



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