The average biped can only take in so many renaissance masterpieces without eventually giving in to an empty stomach. So where to eat cheap in the heart of Florence?
Well, here’s the thing: You’ll be tempted by quaint little trattorias offering tourist menus and a mustached host romancing you towards a table next to Laura and Bob from yesterday’s bus tour through the Chianti region. If that’s your thing, then have a seat. Some are not bad, some are not good, and most are overpriced.
The alternative you ask? Easy, head to the market— or the library.
Just a few blocks north of the Duomo, this burgundy edifice houses some of the best fresh fare in the world: Tuscan food! The market is set in a large building surrounded by a labyrinth of leather dealers and souvenir peddlers—perfect for post-lunch exploration. Inside the main market building, you’ll have the choice of either sitting down for a plate of pasta or having a sandwich made right before you eyes for about €2.50.
Don’t be intimidated by the assortment of meats and cheeses—most vendors will give you a taste of whatever you’re pointing at. The adventurous can try Florence’s very own “lampredotto” sandwich, which is made from the lining of the cow’s fourth (apparently the tastiest) stomach. You can also stock up on fruit, nuts or other pick-me-ups for the remainder of your travel day. Inexpensive bottles of wine are also available. The market is open Monday through Saturday from 7 AM to 2 PM.
How passionate are Italians about their food? Even the public library offers an affordable hot meal for lunch. Next to the Duomo on Via Dell’Orovolo is the beautiful three-storey Biblioteca delle Oblate. This renaissance palazzo and former monastery includes a rooftop patio with a great view onto the Duomo where lunch is served at 12:30 and costs €5.