High five…pizzas a day

Everyone has their favourite “splurge” food. For me, pushing my sweet tooth aside, it’s pizza; specifically, a thin crust, wood-fired oven one. I knew I’d be eating a few slices in Italy, but I hadn’t actually set out to eat it every day, never mind FIVE in one day.

To be fair, pizza served in bakeries is sold by the slice, where you choose how small or large the portion, so this isn’t quite as gluttonous as it sounds. They’re made by the meter, and once the long rectangles come out of the oven, pizzas are sliced to order, and folded over like a sandwich easily shared by two people. It’s also cheap – a slice never costs more than about 2 Euros, so it’s easy to sample a few flavours. And, when in Rome ... actually, this pizza journey goes from south to north. Turns out, all over Italy pizza and gelato are the only foods considered acceptable to eat standing outside, as opposed to sitting at a table. So let the pizza tour commence.

It begins with breakfast. We get a late start, and head to the nearest bakery, Forno ai Serpenti in the Monti neighbourhood of Rome. It’s mid-morning and the pizza ovens have already put in a full day’s work. Unless you’re hankering for a particular kind, it seems fairly obvious to choose what’s fresh. So we do. This morning it’s the white verdure, topped with cheese, no sauce, broccoli and spinach. A generous dosing of olive oil creates a buttery, more-ish taste.

Amazing Margherita on Campo de’Fiori

A few hours of wandering and shopping finds us at Campo de’ Fiori where, just the day before, I’d tasted the amazing Margherita pizza. There’s often a queue the length of the bakery at Forno Campo de’ Fiori, and today is no different, except we’re starving and can’t bear to wait for the fresh Margherita, especially since five people are in front of us. We settle for the pizza al funghi, with mushrooms sliced paper-thin; it’s delicious. While we’re contemplating a second slice, the owner recognises me from our interview the day before. Connections are EVERYTHING in Italy. Two minutes later, we’re brought slices of Margherita so hot the cheese hasn’t had a chance to stick yet.

Three pizzas down, and it’s time to catch a train north to Florence. We avoid pizza at the station, anticipating our final doughy meal once we arrive. Happily seated in First Class, we arrive in Florence in less than 90 minutes. Mussolini really did get the trains running on time.

We arrive at a former palazzo on Piazza Carmine where we’re staying with our hostess, Penny Howard, who coordinates art, food and wine tours of Florence (see separate story).

Florentine masterpiece

It’s just a ten-minute walk to San Spirito Square, where there’s a small, artisan food market every Saturday and Borgo Antica, a restaurant with a heated patio and a lively, local vibe. It’s Hungarian owner is warm and friendly, greeting us with glasses of prosecco.

We’re tempted to stay true to our favoured Margherita, but Penny points us toward the Pizza al Borgo, with a base of passata, topped with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella buffalo. The tangy, salty passata match the mild buffalo perfectly and we’re instant converts. One pizza hardly seems enough for three people, so we also order the Pizza al zucchini e pecorino. Tomato is absent, and shredded zucchini is topped with melted pecorino, and there seem to be hidden bits of gorgonzola. This is a combination to try at home – either in a pizza or frittata. The flavours will haunt me the rest of the trip. And we’ve come full circle, with veggies on our first, and last pizzas. In fact, I think between the tomato sauce and the toppings, I’ve managed my five-a-day.

Travel to Florence sponsored by Trenitalia.

http://www.internationalrail.com/europe/italy/trenitalia.aspx

Breakfast: Pizza al verdure

Forno ai Serpenti - Rome

http://www.anticofornoaiserpenti.it/

Lunch: Pizza al funghi and Pizza Margherita

Forno Campo de’ Fiori - Rome

http://www.fornocampodefiori.com/

Dinner: Pizza al Borgo and Pizza Zucchini e Pecorino - Florence

Borgo Antico

www.borgoanticofirenze.com

 Amy Hughes 

Social Share

Related Posts

Italy’s Adler adding warmth to winter

Italy’s Adler adding warmth to winter

I used to think paradise only came in shades of one colour – blue, blue and bluer … all of it with golden or white sandy edges and a few whitecaps for good measure. But, I’ve recently discovered the calming effect of mountains that tower over 3000 meters high and the liberating knowledge that there …

Italy’s Adler adding warmth to winter Read More »

You can’t go past Puglia's Monopoli

You can’t go past Puglia's Monopoli

After ten minutes walking the shaded, limestone laneways of Monopoli, I get it. This is where Italy comes to spend the summer. We're on the 'heel' of the boot, along the gleaming azure coastline of the Adriatic, in Puglia. Known for its warm southern climate and outstanding food (even amongst Italians), the region stretches from …

You can’t go past Puglia’s Monopoli Read More »

A European tasting plate

A European tasting plate

Mark Eggleton It’s almost midnight and I’m staring at a mostly dark Mediterranean. The lights of Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam shimmer silvery-white on the dark water as we glide almost silently towards Naples. You can hear the wash of the sea like the gentlest of spin cycles scrubbing the hull below. Earlier in the evening …

A European tasting plate Read More »

Sweet taste of Estonia

Sweet taste of Estonia

Amy Hughes What was once a solution to a cocoa crisis, has become a beloved national snack for Estonians. The Kalev candy company has been around since the 19th century, starting with handmade marzipan, and eventually becoming the Baltic nation’s biggest chocolate producer. In the 1960s, unaware of the looming cocoa crisis to come in …

Sweet taste of Estonia Read More »

Italy almost forgot Famoso but now it’s nearly famous

Italy almost forgot Famoso but now it’s nearly famous

While Ferraris, food and wine make Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region one of the world’s favourite locales, a collection of local winemakers are passionate about adding the humble and almost forgotten Famoso grape to the list. Sitting in a farmhouse kitchen in Emilia-Romagna, Giovanna Randi pours me an espresso. I ask for milk and she waggles her …

Italy almost forgot Famoso but now it’s nearly famous Read More »

A weekend in Vilnius moves from Le Carre to the Spa

A weekend in Vilnius moves from Le Carre to the Spa

It’s no wonder film crews come to Lithuania’s capital city to shoot scenes of the Cold War. Wandering some of the squiggly streets that run from the Medieval old town to a neighbourhood populated with modern bars and sophisticated restaurants, you are transported into Le Carre-land. A range of architectural styles – from gothic to …

A weekend in Vilnius moves from Le Carre to the Spa Read More »