I was in Florence last week checking out prospective hotels for a project I am working on for Context Travel. I got totally lost looking for the Hermitage Hotel near the Ponte Vecchio and came upon a glass storefront, through which I spied people sitting on high stools eating panini. On shelves around them were all types of typical products from all over Italy-olive oil, chocolate from Modica (in Sicily), tiny bottles of capers.

As I rode the train up to Florence earlier that morning, I envisioned myself indulging in a proper Tuscan meal: some cured meats, pappardelle al sugo, followed by an ungodly amount of rare steak (Florence is famous for its thick T-bone called bistecca alla fiorentina). But I am easily distracted and the people eating inside the paninoteca seemed so happy. So I ventured in and was rewarded with one of the most delicious sanwiches of recent memory.

Just inside the entrance on the left is a list of handwritten sandwich proposals, all of which contain prodotti tipici and locali (typical local products from Tuscany). Local salumi, prosciutti, and cheeses are served in a number of permutations on a crusty bread with soft, spongy insides. I chose a panino with pecorino (ewe’s milk cheese) from near Pienza in Tuscany’s Val d’Orcia region and sweet pepper preserves. The contrast of salty and sweet is one of my favorite food juxtapositions so I couldn’t resist. This hearty sandwich and a glass of cold beer cost around 6 euros.

After I finished my meal, I browsed around the shop (‘ino sells a vast array of typical products from all over Italy), made a few necessary purchases and headed off again in search of the Hermitage Hotel.

‘ino
via dei Georgofili 3r/7r
055.219.208
www.ino-firenze.com
Mon-Sat 11am-8pm, Sun noon-5pm