There’s a reason that the word “panini” is well known in the English-speaking world, and that’s because Italians really know how to make a good sandwich. A savory “panino” is the perfect cheap and quick lunch in Florence, and thankfully there are many options from which to choose.
Here are our favorite sandwich shops in Florence, with their respective specialties:
Via dei Cimatori, 38r (near Piazza Signoria)
Everyone seems to knows this little stand situated in the heart of Florence. The cheerful guys stuffed behind the counter make small round sandwiches (€2.50 each) at the speed of light. Choose from a long list of options; my favorites are the prosciutto, goat cheese and rucola and well, anything with sundried tomatoes or “finocchiona,” a salami made with fennel.
Don’t forget to order a “bicchiere” of the house wine for only €1. You can rest it on the shelves hanging on the wall while you eat. I Fratellini is a strictly street food place, so be prepared to eat standing (or eat outside if the weather is nice).
Via Sant’Egidio, 22r
This sandwich shop is actually not well known to most Florentines. It is especially popular with Americans, and plenty of students stop by to fill up during their breaks. Don’t let the foreign atmosphere or the long line deter you: This is one of the best places to get your money’s worth.
For €5 at lunchtime, you can buy a large sandwich (think foot-long) filled with layers and layers of goodies, plus a serving of garlic fries and a bottle of water. Trust me, every American I know loves it and every Italian I’ve ever brought here has been amazed to discover it.
Piazza San Marco
Another Florentine specialty, and my personal favorite, is “schiacciata.” Schiacciata is a light, fluffy salty flatbread, similar to the more common focaccia. Pugi is the home to some of Florence’s best schiacciata, along with sandwiches and pizza made from this delicious dough.
This place is also packed around lunch, but it’s worth it to take a number, sneak a peak at the display case and pick out whatever your heart desires. Prices are based on weight, so buying pizza can be a bit more expensive once you add olives and sausage. However, Pugi is still a cheap spot for lunch
Bonus Tip: Lampredotto
A Florentine lunch tradition is the “lampredotto,” which is the fourth stomach of a cow boiled, seasoned and served on bread. To some this may not seem very appetizing, but there is a reason that this sandwich has been eaten for hundreds of years!
While you’ll find many lampredotto carts all over Florence, try the one in San Lorenzo, right across the street from the Central Market at the corner of Via Sant’Antonino. If you like it, you won’t ever stop wanting it; if you don’t, at least you have a good story to tell. And don’t forget, it’s cheap and quick.