One day stepping out of our office for a quick bite to eat, we came across one of our favourite people in Florence* rushing past.
‘We were just coming to visit you!’, we say. Then, trying not to panic at the thought, we asked, ‘It’s open, right?’
‘Yes, of course!’, he assured us. ‘I’m just running late. I had to go to Siena for salami.’
This might be an unusual thing to do – driving several hours to and from Florence to Siena for some slices of meat ? and we may have been surprised if we weren’t speaking to one of the two best sandwich-makers in Florence.
But we have long-known the location, and now we know the exact reason as to why, in a narrow Florentine cobbled street, in a tiny store, you will find the secrets to sandwich success, the tastes of Tuscany like you’ve never experienced.
And we discovered the secret to their savoury successes, as we skipped along the cobbled streets, stepped over the ancient stone footpaths and traversed a charming little piazza chatting with our friend on the way to the Vinaino di Parte Guelfa sandwich store. Offering ‘Prodotti Toscani’ (Tuscan products) including ‘vino, panini e tante altre cose buone!’ (wine, sandwiches and many other good things!) ? all of which is totally true, except about just being good, because really, they are great!
The reason everything is so delicious is that the fresh ingredients are sourced from the places where the best-quality items are produced. So the salamis come from Siena, the pecorino cheese from Pienza (‘…of course!’, he added, like you would be out of your mind to even consider sheep cheese from anywhere else in the world ? which, when you live in Tuscany, you really would have to be!), the sundried and roasted vegetables come from vegetable gardens specially selected by experts in their field, and the baked slices and pasta from home kitchens.
The fillings are a range of Tuscan deli meats including ‘prosciutto crudo’ Parma ham, ‘prosciutto cotto’ baked ham, and salami individually chosen from the best salami producers in the region.
And the owners of the store go direct to the manufacturer to personally select the items. When we enquired as to why they don’t have the salami delivered, he shook his head and solemnly said, ‘That would never do. The salami could arrive and it is too dried or not dried enough. No, everything must be personally selected.’
The bread options are ‘panino’ (breadroll) or ‘schiacciata’ (literally meaning, ‘squished’ it refers to a foccaccia-like** bread including salt and oil in the mix which is then ‘squished’ with the baker’s fingertips expertly pressed into the dough to leave little dimples in the bread).
The great cheese options to choose from are perfectly paired with your selection of vegetable and salad ingredients freshly grown and prepared in the area.
To wash it down, opt for a glass of wine, perhaps a light Chianti for example. There are tiny tables inside the little store, or you can stand around on the cobbled streets with the fellow sandwich store diners to chat and munch away.
Facing the store, to your right is the Mercato Nuovo ? one of Florence’s best markets for leather bags, leather jackets, and other must-buy items when in Florence!
It is also just near the Piazza Signoria where the Palazzo Vecchio, just next to the Uffizi Gallery and a range of other must-see sites in Florence.
If you’d like a guided tour of the historical city centre of Florence on a small-group or private walking tour, we have the Original Florence Walk guided city tour with an expert Artviva tour guide accompanying you to see the must-see sights of Florence in a 3-hour guided tour of the historical city centre. The Original Florence Walk: http://www.italy.artviva.com/tours/12/original_florence_walk.
You can also learn about the traditional Italian ingredients and learn to make delicious, typical dishes before indulging in a delicious meal made by you by signing up for our hands-on cooking class in Florence. For more information or to register, see: http://www.italy.artviva.com/tours_category/12/cooking_classes_tuscany_florence_venice_rome.
If you’d like to visit Siena too, we have the Best of Tuscany small-group tour, visiting three Tuscan hilltop towns (Siena, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni) as well as having wine tasting and lunch at a Tuscan Villa Estate.
In the afternoons, we have the Taste of Tuscany at the Villa Wine Tour (http://www.italy.artviva.com/tours/15/taste_of_tuscany_at_the_villa) ? taste award-winning wines at an historic Tuscany Villa on this small-group Tuscany wine tour.
If you’d like to take a stroll through the Tuscan countryside, join us for a Perfect Morning in Tuscany small-group walking tour. Leaving from Florence’s city centre and heading to the surrounding countryside, this small-group walking tour includes, well, walking in Tuscany, as well as lunch with wine at a stunning Renaissance Villa Estate, accompanied by an expert tour guide.
* Does it say something about us if all of our favourites happen to be people who make us food (and our lovely tour guides of course!)?
** Not that you would suggest to an Italian that focaccia and schiacciata are similar, as Italians take their foods very seriously and specifically.