if1I hit Italy with one gastronomic goal: to eat all the cured meats – prosciutto, mortadella, salami, etc  – as possible.  I did eat a great deal of great cured meats, but I was surprised at how many truly vegetarian meals I ate.

In general, we found the food was fresh and well prepared, especially in Umbria, where we were based most of the week.  Here are a few dining highlights I made note of and would recommend for anyone who may be visiting Italy soon.

Lunch in Florence

One of the best meals I had was a lunch at Il Sedano Allegro in Florence.  I had a lovely tortellini dish and it was one of the best meals I have had in a long time.  My dining companion had different dishes and reported them to be great as well.  After eating there and making a note to return should I every come back to Florence, I found out that Il Sedano Allegro is an exclusively vegetarian restaurant.  Who knew?

Dinners in Assisi

if3Meanwhile, dining in Assisi was the great delight of the trip.  Rome and Florence may boast bigger, better and more restaurants, but they are also very expensive.  On our first night in Assisi we happened upon Ristorante Moro di Ronca, outside of the walls of the town and away from where the vast majority of pilgrims ever make it.  Ristorante Moro di Ronca is truly a gem, and definitely a place where the locals eat.  Family-run, the food here was amazing – we dined there three evenings over the week.  Each time I had pasta with meat sauce – it is so basic – but I have to tell you it was also so good, almost as if I had been trying it for the first time.  The bread was also great as were the salads and just everything. 

We dined in a comfortable dinging room warmed by an open wood burning fireplace.  It was the perfect find for our week in Umbria.  By the way, Ristorante Moro di Ronca is also a great bargain in the best way: great food at great prices.

Directly across the street from Ristorante Moro di Ronca is Ristorante Da Giovannino, where we also dined and found it to be almost as good.  Here I had the most amazing boneless chicken thigh. It was so well-prepared and totally devoid of the usual fatty bits.

I recommend both of these local restaurants to anyone planning a trip to Assisi.  Both establishments have been around for years and will likely be there when you get there.  Although a little off the beaten path, you will be happy you left the walls of Assisi to navigate the winding mountain roads with a great meal as your destination.

The Best Fast Food Ever

if2On our visit to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, we came across Piadina, a place that makes fresh panini/calzone types of things.  Hard to describe, but they make the bread fresh on a griddle, like a big pancake, then put on your choice of fillings, flop it over and serve you the best lunch ever.  So good!  While we waited, they served a complimentary glass of sparkling wine and as a treat they included a grape dipped in chocolate for each of as dessert. Very classy for a no frills storefront eatery.

This is just a small fast food place and it was one of best meals we had on the trip.  Additional research has uncovered what we suspected, Piadina is a franchised chain across Italy.  My sister wants to open one in the US.  This not likely to happen, but I will have to say that should someone ever do it – they will have a goldmine on their hands.  Piadina is on my watch list for a return visit to Italy – with locations across the country, it is likely our paths will cross again.

We ate meals at many other places, but these are the highlights for me.  I was shocked at how expensive the restaurants were in central Rome and Florence – with all sorts of fees and charges added on.  It was fun to dine with a view of St. Peter’s or on the great piazzas of Florence, but not truly worth the expense.  Give me the small town, family-run places any day of the week.

See more about Il Sedano Allegro in Florence here.

Find Ristorante Moro di Ronca in Assisi here.

Find Ristorante Da Giovannino in Assisi here.

See more about Piadina here.