Eat well Travel often.

A well traveled American Girl

What’s the best pizza in Florence?  Its a tough one since there are plenty of options for finding a Neapolitan style pizza.  However, I have done a decent job trying different pizzerias around the historic center of Florence to determine my favorites:

1. O’Munaciello: a beautiful restaurant and pizzeria over the river was where I found my favorite margherita pizza in Florence.  For around 8 euros you can enjoy a delicious Neapolitan pizza with a beautiful atmosphere.

2. Il Mercato Centrale: the second floor to the market just opened a couple weeks ago, providing many places to eat!  I tried the margherita pizza and it was very close to what is served in Naples for 8 euros!

3. Eataly: the popular food market known for their quality products also has a rotating brick oven to cook delicious pizza.  I sat at the counter where I watched the pizza man make me a margherita pizza with delicious mozzarella di bufula (I paid extra to have it instead of fior di latte).  Quick service and a great quality, especially if you only have a short time to eat!

4. O’Vesuvio: famous for the cast of Jersey Shore, I wanted to try this restaurant known for its Neapolitan pizza.  Very good, however I tried the margherita with fior di latte because I only had 6 euros (or else I would have upgraded to the mozzarella).  I took the pizza to go and enjoyed it in the sunny Piazza della Reppublica.

5. Gusta Pizza: every study abroad student recommends Gusta Pizza.  A small pizzeria over the river provides about 7 pizza options and two daily specials.  I have only tried the margherita, although my friend loves their pesto pizza.  It was very good (and only 5 euros), however, I do like my pizza a little saucy and Gusta’s pizza seemed a little too dry for me.  Nonetheless, its a great place that many people rave about for a cheap and yummy pizza.

6. Mamma Napoli: this restaurant/pizzeria located behind the Mercato Centrale offers numerous types of Neapolitan pizza.  I tried the trio featuring a margherita in the middle, a ricotta and salami pizza on the left, and on the right a proscuitto, mushroom and cheese pizza.  It was fun to be able to try three different types of pizza in one!  They even offer pizzas with ricotta stuffed crust but I haven’t gone back to try it.

I am so blessed to have traveled to Cinque Terre this weekend to see the beautiful towns and beaches.  After arriving in Vernazza, my friends and I hiked up and down the cliffs on tiny dirt paths for 3 kilometers.  Terrified at some points during the hike, I was relieved to see the beautiful view of the ocean in Monterosso two hours later.  We jumped into the water and treated ourselves to delicious margaritas and soaked up  the sun.  For dinner, I decided to try the pasta al pesto ~ a signature dish of Liguria.  It was delicious! After watching the sunset in Monterosso we headed home taking with us lovely memories and “postcard” pictures of Cinque Terre.

xoxo Francesca

nutella & strawberry crepe + cappuccino, YES PLEASE

nutella & strawberry crepe + cappuccino, YES PLEASE

If you’re looking for a yummy sandwich in Florence, make sure to check out All’Antico Vinaio on Via de Neri.  For 5 euros you get the biggest sandwich with whichever ingredients you want!!! Probably the best Italian sandwich I have ever eaten in my life.  The proscuitto is incredible, definitely going back to try an assortment of meats and cheeses for aperitivo!

What a surprise!!!! My dad booked a flight to Italy a day before departing and made a special stop to visit me in Florence.  I was so happy to see him since none of my family members have visited me during my time abroad.  I got to show him one of my favorite restaurants ~ Porcospino ~ along with delicious stops for gelato and espresso.  And of course we had to stop in the Ferrari store.  Such a short time together, but definitely well spent around town.

I had a wonderful time in Saturnia, a small Tuscan town known for their natural hot springs within the beautiful countryside.  Our hotel was beautiful with a pool and great view of the rolling Tuscan hills.  If only I could escape to this paradise any day…..

Gnocchi cooking class, gotta love Italy !

I had the best steak of my entire life the other night at Acqua al 2.  This is no exaggeration.  Knowing the restaurant is famous for both the balsamic fillet and the blubbery fillet, I couldn’t choose which one to try!  Therefore, I decided to be surprised and order the steak sampler, which is a choosing of two fillets and one tailgate by the chef.  I was lucky enough to try both the balsamic and blueberry fillets and a tagliata with rosemary, spinach and tomato.  Incredible.  Then we finished with a dessert sampler of tiramisu, cheesecake, chocolate cake, and an almond cake.  Definitely going back!

Paris ~ What a city.  Full of famous monuments, gardens and signature pastries, how could anyone not love Paris?  Although I had to buy a lot of metro passes, it was worth seeing the Eiffel Tower (both day and night), the Love Lock Bridge, the Arc de Triomphe, Versailles, and so much more.  Of course I tried the quiche, crepes, pain au chocolat, and eclairs - all delicious.  A great city to end my spring break!

Amsterdam ~ another fabulous city with many canals (reminded me of Venice) and coffee shops.  I went to the Heineken Museum to see how they make beer and got 3 free beers on the tour!  By night I walked through the Red Light District, I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that prostitution occurs all day and night on this street in Amsterdam.  When walking around make sure you stay out of the bike lane, because locals will not stop for you on their bike!!!  I didn’t try any Dutch food (because begin in Italy for a semester I always eat pasta and pizza) but rather ate burgers, wraps, sandwiches and asian food in Amsterdam.  Maybe next time…

Berlin ~ I always pictured Germany as very modern, and Berlin proved my assumptions to be right.  Everything in the city was reconstructed, except a couple of buildings.  The East Side Gallery was unique to see in Berlin, with a lot of talent displayed on a very very long wall.  A lot of beer, sausage and pretzels.  Even got to pour my own beer at a restaurant with the best burgers and table taps!

Prague ~ such a pleasant surprise to spend a couple days in this gorgeous city.  Not knowing much about the city, I couldn’t have had  a better time going to the “Beer Museum” (which was instead a restaurant and great place to test their 30 different beers on tap), the John Lennon wall, the Clock Tower Pub Crawl, and of course trying Prague’s famous hot dog/sausage from the street vendors.  If you love to drink beer go to Prague, where a beer is equivalent to around $1.

What a hectic month March was.  Between celebrating my birthday, midterms and spring break I saw the days go before my eyes.  Nonetheless, I am happy to say I got to find downtime and spent sunny days by the river in Florence so early in the Spring.  I also  traveled to Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris!  I can’t believe how fast time flies and I now only have five weeks left abroad in Florence.

xoxo Francesca

This morning I decided to adventure up the Giotto Bell Tower.  After climbing through the narrow stairwells up 414 steps, I made it to the top to see amazing views of the city of Florence!

Piazza della Repubblica

Piazza della Repubblica