The following blog post is from the point of view of my abroad intern, Alicia, who is spending the semester studying in Florence, Italy. Keep reading for her insights on the best panini in all of FLO!
So I’ve been here in Florence for about three months now, which is definitely enough time to accurately assess the panini selection in Florence.
A little background about me: I am not a picky eater at all… except when it comes to meats. (LOL) I really just love chicken too much to ever eat anything else, but my mission while studying abroad was to try everything and be adventurous with my food choices. So, I came into Florence not liking salami or prosciutto (I know, I know...unfortunate); however, I still do not like prosciutto after trying it a million times that maybe the next time I would like it better. But, now I seriously love salami and I would like to thank Panini Toscani for this newfound love. *cue applause*
My very first panini was from Pino’s <3. This was a solid first choice in panini because it’s an overall fave of those studying abroad. I got the Brasco, which was turkey, brie cheese, peppers and two of their homemade sauces: pesto and hot sauce, because the more sauce the better… right? Pino’s was my favorite for awhile, and I liked it better than fan-favorite All’Antico Vinaio, which in my opinion is overrated (But, to each their own!). I know so many people love it, and the lines are always insane. But when I am trying to walk to class, I end up accidentally waiting in line for a panini because the streets are so filled with people I can’t even see- and please do not get me started on the pigeons (Seriously, please don’t). So, maybe that is why I never venture over there much, but if the panini was as good as the lines make it seem I would risk being attacked by a pigeon.
Thanks to HungryGrl’s Florence Guide, I decided to try Panini Toscani. From the moment I found out they had olive bread, I was in love. At Panini Toscani there is no menu, which intrigued me, so I felt even more compelled to try it. Toscani is this tiny place right near the Duomo and if you aren’t looking for it you will 100% miss it. My roommate and I went when there was not a long line at all which was perfect because it is super small inside, but the older man who guides people in does it perfectly so you never feel squished. When we were the next group up, the man behind the counter cut four different pieces of cheeses for us to try, then three different meats. It was the definition of amazing.
I never remember the names of the cheeses (they’re literally all amazing) so I just say the number in which we tried them, and I usually go with the creamier cheese that is less aged and not super sharp. But they are all honestly so yum. A big reason I loved Pino’s so much was because they had turkey, but after trying the salami at Toscani, I was in love. I never felt so passionately about a sandwich if we’re being honest. After you pick your cheese and meat, you pick your bread. They have a wide variety to choose from, from classic schiacciata to walnut and multigrain, but my favorite is the olive bread. Then, you pick three toppings; I usually do arugula, tomatoes and their homemade hot sauce, because I think it is vital for a panini to have some kind of sauce. Finally, they warm the sandwich for you and the cheese gets a little melty and the bread gets a little crunchy and it's truly perfection. Nothing like that first bite.
I’ve been here several times now and it tastes better each time. I think for me what makes a great panini is if the meat is thinly sliced, if there is a sauce and the bread needs to be toasty.
If you are ever in Florence you should definitely try as many panini as you can, because each place has their own way of making them and has their own little twist on classic tuscan flavors. And to be honest, I’ve never met a panini I didn’t like. Buon Appetito!
Other places you should try:
Antico Noe (really good chicken)
Oil Shoppe (Also has great sauces, salads & iced coffee.)
Pane & Toscana (not to be confused with Panini Toscani… be sure to order the ‘Pisana’ with blueberry jam!)