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 - the Italian way

i Fratellini - Florence's Greatest (and tiniest) Lunch Stop

In a city of greats find a tiny, but great, 'hole in the wall'

Fratellini sandwich bar in Florence with wines stacked up

Magnificent Florence has David and also i due Fratellini.

What more could you want after 3 hours of Uffizi Art than a moreish panino and glass of Tuscan wine?

Two streets down from epic Piazza della Signoria is an epic, albeit miniscule, spot for historic Florentine cuisine.

You'd walk straight past if you never knew like I nearly did one summer's day twenty years ago, but then poking my head down a side street in search of a cluster of locals and an authentic venue, I found i Fratellini. It was lunchtime and a small crowd had gathered on the nondescript, cobbled street. Immediately noting in the midst of casual chatter, that everyone held a glass of red wine, this was bound to be a good find.

Menu at Fratellini in Florence.

Back then, it was an insider's secret, now i Fratellini is a well-trod international stop with hungry fans queuing up to an hour at weekends. To boot, they've added the Aperol Spritz!

Like many in Italy, i due Fratellini is a family-run business. Named after their surname, translated as two small brothers, the humble eatery started up in 1875 in Via dei Cimatori, a tiny alley off Via Calzaioli, near the busy central piazza. When walking the streets of Florence, I find an array of marble masterpieces, abundant artwork and mind-boggling architecture can become quite overwhelming.

There's nothing like an undemanding panino and glass of full-bodied Chianti to ease one back down to earth with a gentle, culinary bump. It's rather grounding.

This is simple food made from the most sublime of ingredients, something Italy does exceedingly well, here's our blog post about it. My first lunch at i Fratellini involved the simplest of panini - beautiful warm schiacciata bread stuffed with flaked tuna chunks and enormous salty capers. I can remember the exact moment of that first bite, walking up Via Calzaioli, I stopped and closed my eyes, it was that good.

Glass of Red Wine at Fratellini in Florence

A glass of good red wine is a delectable thing and the Fratellini family don't mess about, they stock some of the most noble of Tuscan bottles in an display of jam-packed options, almost like a back-drop to their wares.

Their high-held standards of quality and approach to divine food and divine wine, even standing on a side street eating a sandwich, is quintessentially beautiful.

According to the Fratellini family (translated from their page), "Once upon a time, Florence was full of small wine bars and merchants where you could eat something simple and drink a good glass of wine... then, when traders were permitted to use the same licence as a restaurant, all the little food and wine shops disappeared. We instead, want to 'defend' these historical spots so we're here every day with the same passion as always."

Opening hours

11 to 6pm Monday to Thursday,

11 to 5pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday

or until their daily bread supply runs out,

you'll find 30-odd panini at €4 each and tumblers of red wine from €2 up. Pick a number from the endless menu on the wall (the Fratellini are fluent in English), choose your wine from opened bottles of local Tuscan options or ask for one to be opened.

Then find a comfortable spot on the cobbled street's tiny tables or in a nearby piazza, there's a world-famous one just behind you, and when you're deliciously sated, place your empty wine glass on the handy wooden shelves on the wall for this precise purpose, before heading to a nearby bar to perfectly finish off your lunch with un caffè.

Best time to visit

Lunch is at 12 noon according to many Italians, thus, arrive before noon if you'd prefer to avoid queues or after the rush, around 2pm. Weekends are notoriously busy.

Ham and wild mushroom focaccia in Florence with a glass of red wine.

On the menu

There are two breads to choose from, both are made with natural 'mother' yeast (Pasta Madre)/sourdough - schiacciata (flat and oily) or bread rolls (round and crispy). Baked with extra-virgin olive oil, they're warmed just a little before serving for extra flavour.

Feast your eyes on these fillings:

1. Prosciutto Crudo, crema di formaggio e rucola - Parma Ham, creamy goats cheese and rocket

2. Prosciutto Crudo e Pecorino - Parma Ham and sheeps cheese Pecorino

3. Prosciutto Crudo e mozzarella - Parma Ham and mozzarella

4. Prosciutto Arrosto e salsa verde - Roast pork and salsa verde (chopped parsley and caper sauce)

5. Prosciutto Arrosto e funghi - Roast pork and mushrooms

6. Mozzarella e pomodoro - Mozarella and fresh tomato

7. Tonno, pomodoro e cipolla - Tuna, tomato and onion

8. Tonno e capperi - Tuna and capers

9. Tonno e salsa verde - Tuna and salsa verde (chopped parsley and caper sauce)

10. Acciughe e burro - Anchovies and butter

11. Acciughe e salsa verde - Anchovies and salsa verde (chopped parsley and caper sauce)

12. Aringhe e burro -- Herrings and butter

13. Arringhe e cipolla - Herrings and onion

14. Aringhe e salsa verde - Herrings and salsa verde (chopped parsley and caper sauce)

15. Finnocchiona e crema di formaggio - Tuscan salami with fennel seeds and cream cheese

16. Pomodori secchi e pecorino - Sundried tomatoes and sheeps cheese Pecorino

17. Pomodori Secchi e pecorino - Sun dried tomatoes and sheeps cheese Pecorino

18. Salame e carciofi - Salami and artichokes

19. Salame di cinghiale e burro - Wild boar salami and butter

20. Porchetta - Roast Pork with herbs

21. Salsiccia crudo e melanzane - Fresh sausage and eggplant

22. Lardo Colonnata - Colonnata Lard

23. Pecorino tartufato e rucola - Truffle Pecorino and rocket

24. Mortadella e melanzane - Mortadella and eggplant

25. Pancetta e peperoni - Pancetta and peppers

26. Bresaola e rucola - Bresaola and rocket

27. Salame Piccante e crema di formaggio - Spicy salami and cream cheese

28. Prosciutto arrosto e crema tartufata - Roast pork and truffle cream

29. Vegetariano - a vegetarian medley

30. Tacchino Arrosto, pomodoro e insalata - Roast Turkey, tomato and salad

These are examples of the most classic cured meats Italy has to offer from Tuscan wild boar salami to Lardo di Colonnata, Porchetta, Mortadella and Bresaola...

You may think - too simple...

No spreads, no seasoning?

But this is Italy, this is Tuscany, nobody gets food wrong here. Trust the bold flavours of fennel-seed salami, truffles and sharp Pecorino cheese accompanied by the best wines Tuscany can offer and trust these two men who've done this day in, day out for years as masters of their trade. Trust the Florentines who flock in their lunch-break and the tourists who go on reviews. Trust a menu that has remained unchanged for decades. You're truly in the best hands.

Buon appetito!

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Apr 15, 2022

Acciughe e burro 😋

Mangia Mangia
Mangia Mangia
Sep 18, 2023
Replying to

Le cose piu semplici!

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