Our Italian Restaurant(s): Florence, Part One

Let's be real. The best part about Italy was the food. It seemed like we started the day with a big spread at our hotel (where there was always hot cappuccino, and gluten-free options for me), and then we spent the rest of the day figuring out what our next culinary indulgence would be. In between, we checked out some famous - and amazing - historical sites, museums, and churches, but it was really all about the food. In this series, I'll share the amazing meals we had, just in case you're planning a trip to Italy anytime soon ;)

We stepped off the train in Florence ready to dive into the sights, but famished, too. We set off in search of some good gluten-free food and happened across this sign for Ristorante il Paiolo. Pinned to the sign: We speak English! Pasta no glutine. We thought, why not give it a try?  

Well, they didn't speak much English, and in my broken Italian I had difficulty ordering. They didn't want to feed me anything other than gluten-free pasta, not even a salad! They had two sauces, and we chose the tomato.  Since we were splitting a portion, this is what my plate looked like before I dove in.  The pasta was a bit undercooked for my taste. I'm not sure if that's the way Italians like it, or if they just have a hard time cooking gluten-free pasta. Unfortunately, the sauce didn't have much going for it either - it tasted like it came out of a can. Womp, womp. 

After lunch, we went to the Uffizzi Gallery, where we saw just about every single work of art I ever learned about in Art History class. It was fun and overwhelming at the same time. Looking at all that art worked up an appetite, so we set off in search of a better meal than our first one.  We found it at a restaurant called The Chimera. They didn't advertise it on the menu, but they said they could do any pasta gluten-free.

Mike and I split the house red, and finally caught on that it's cheaper to order a liter of wine in a pitcher or carafe than to buy a bottle of wine at a restaurant. You can see how disappointed I was about having to drink all that wine:

We split an arugula salad that we dressed at the table with salt, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. I had this pasta with clams, a light butter-herb sauce, and lots of pepper:

This time the pasta was perfectly cooked (hey! maybe Italians do know how to cook gluten-free pasta!), and absolutely delicious. Mike had torellini stuffed with ricotta and dressed with oil, tomatoes, and zucchini (not gluten-free, but he said it was pretty tasty).

The next time we're in Florence, we'd love to stop by Chimera.

Next week: Our whirlwind day trip around Tuscany, complete with a stop at an organic farm for a wine tasting and gluten-free lunch!

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