Located down a small alley in central Florence, Da’ Vinattieri is easy to miss. But then the best places often are. Walk the same route around lunchtime and you’ll instantly recognise it by its queue of locals, snaking out from the small window, along the pathway and out into Piazza del Duomo.
Lampredotto is the speciality here. You probably won’t like the sound of it, but you’ll certainly like the taste. Put simply, this is the Florentine version of tripe (cow’s stomach lining). While regular tripe is a mixture of the full lining, lampredotto is solely made up of the cow’s final stomach.
Although in recent years it’s acquired a sense of cool, this was originally peasant food, and although you’ll now find it on more than a few restaurant menus in Florence, the best way to eat it is at street level. And few do it better in Florence than at Da’ Vinattieri.
If made poorly, lampredotto can be a little chewy. Here, they cook it slowly – with tomato, onion, parsley and celery – until the texture approaches something like roast beef. After that, they take a crunchy white bread roll, dip it in the broth, add a spicy sauce and pile it high. To live truly like a local, get a small glass of wine, take your sandwich and simply sit on the curb to eat. It’ll cost you around US$8 in total for the pleasure. If you’re still hungry, we heartily recommend the cocoli – small balls of fried bread stuffed with prosciutto and eaten with soft cheese.
The great thing is that you don’t have to travel far to enjoy all this. Da’ Vinattieri is so centrally placed that, once you’ve eaten, you’re set for all the city’s best attractions. Santa Margherita dei Cerchi (where Dante met his muse Beatrice) is just next door, while the city’s famous Duomo is only a five-minute walk away. Walking is good after a lampredotto sandwich. We figure five hours around the city should be enough to burn off the calories, so best take some comfortable shoes.
Words : Andrew Nagy
Images : Francesco Spighi