A food lover´s guide to discovering and devouring great, affordable choices in Italy
— By Erin Spencer — One of the most fun and rewarding aspects of studying abroad in Europe is the ability to try such a variety of food. It’s like stepping into another world. Don´t get me wrong, there is something to be said for the giant chicken burritos from Chipotle, along with other cholesterol-heavy American fast food delicacies. But nothing can compare to Italian pizza that blows Papa Johns out of the water. This year I was able to stray from my usual Spring Break trip to Florida and go to Italy. While I was there, I tried a LOT of food. How was it? Well, the bread was sumptious. The tomatoes were fresh and juicy. The wine? Constantly flowing.
So here it is. Without further ado, I present to you my personal experience with food in Italy (and the reason why I probably gained 10 pounds in 10 days).
*Disclaimer: if you hate pizza, you will hate me. Also, Italy might not be for you.
My favorite food while abroad was at Luini, a little bakery right near the Milan cathedral (address is unknown but explore around and your nose will lead the way). I got a “panzerotto” which is a crescent shaped dough stuffed with meat and cheese and then deep fried or baked. It was nothing short of a little deep fried piece of pizza from heaven. It was also super cheap! I think I got 2 (which are necessary) and a bottle of water for 5 euro total. It is extremely popular, so you might have to wait in line; this is considered Italian fast food and was very fast to grab and go.
But the Milan experience doesn´t end there! My all-time favorite pizza was discovered in a random restaurant in Milan. For the rest of my life my heart will long for pizza with mozzarella di bufala cheese. Enjoy this photo — I´m sure I won’t be the only one drooling at the thought of some authentic Italian pizza.
What I will never forget about Florence are the cute local sandwich shops. They are small and always crowded, and never in my life have I been so stressed out about ordering food. The workers are extremely energetic Italian men who literally demand that you say what you want. First of all, I understand about .001% of the Italian language, so responding to them was no easy task. I had to point at random items at a whim. Much to my delight, however, this approach ended up yielding the yummiest snack imaginable. If you forget everything else about this post, just remember to get the tomatoes and mozzarella.
Must-see sandwich restaurants in Florence are Pino´s and Antico Vineo. My sister studied abroad in Florence 4 years ago and still talks about Pino´s. One visit to this sandwich shop and I totally understood why.
I only had one day in Venice, and while getting lost among the many small streets and alley-ways, I randomly found the San Polo market. I really love a good food market, and the moment I smelled the fresh vegetables and spices I was hooked. If you were to ask anyone I know from home, they would say that I literally never eat fresh fruit or vegetables. Yet there I was indulging in my second banana of the day (gasp). Being abroad changes people.
On a less healthy note, I highly recommend trying to find Ostaria Ale do Marie. This is a little restaurant I stumbled upon and could probably never find again. But if you can figure it out, it´s a lovely little spot with a rear garden where you can eat. I ordered pizza (surprise) but the seafood smelled fantastic.
One of my favorite days abroad was spent on the beach in Positano. There is a fun little beach where you can relax with your friends or jump off the cliffs and into the water. But, as you now know, the most important thing to me is food! If you ever find yourself in Positano and don´t eat a delicious Panini sandwich stuffed with various fresh Italian ingredients, consider yourself shamed! This one was easily among my favorite sandwiches ever!
In Ana Capri my friends and I enjoyed several cups of a delicious, fresh drink called Granita which is basically like a slushy with lemon, orange, and strawberry flavors. It was the perfect way to cool off under the Capri sun! You can get them almost everywhere, so make it a challenge to find the best one.
My mother is a fantastic cook and every day that I´m in Europe is another meal that I am missing. I want to publicly thank her for feeding me tomatoes and mozzarella cheese with olive oil and balsamic dressing as a pre-dinner snack at home. Here´s to you, Mom, for making me like the art that is the Caprese Salad. In Italy it was incredible, and now every time I eat it in Kentucky, I´ll force my mom to drink wine with me and play some Italian music so that I can go back to this moment.I hope this short article encourages you to get to Italy, and maybe seek out a few of my recommendations. Writing it certainly brings back great memories of my semester abroad.
Finally, if you talk to people who study or have studied abroad and they tell you their favorite thing about Europe is “the culture” or “the amazing churches”, they obviously didn´t eat the right pizza in Italy!