As I’ve since been to Verbier and back, Italy feels like a million years ago! But I did promise a post on the food, so prepare yourselves for a lot of photos of carb-tacular goodness.
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t blown away by Italy’s pizza. I like my pizza bases thin and crispy and I like a lot of toppings. I think we were unlucky with a couple of places we went that were trying to appeal to the tourist market with thicker crust pizzas a la Pizza Hut and Dominos. I know the toppings thing is my personal taste and pizzas in Italy are traditionally more minimalist, which is fine but as a vegetarian, it did get a little repetitive.
Pizza # 1, Pisa – Aubergine, courgette and mushrooms. The base was too thick and the mushrooms tasted canned but it was okay. 5/10
Pizza #2, Florence – Mushroom, aubergine and onion
This was surprisingly better than it looked! Just a bit bland as we asked for it without ‘pepperoncini’, which we later found out is NOT pepperoni but red pepper/capsicum. Dammit! 8/10
Pizza #3, Cortona – Aubergine, courgette and yellow pepper
Best pizza I had! The base was perfect and it was not too cheesy. 9/10
Pizza #4, Pompeii – Brie, cherry tomatoes, green beans (?!), potatoes and olives (picked those off)
This was a pizza slice from the busy cafeteria at Pompeii so they served it half cold but other than that, it was okay. 6/10
Pizza # 5, Rome – Tomato, spinach, artichoke and mushroom
After a fail at finding the vegetarian restaurant we were looking for and getting soaked with rain, we went to a rather touristy place out of desperation. I loved that they piled the veggies on but the base was too thick and it was so cheesy. Couldn’t eat it all! 7/10
Pasta & Gnocchi
Matt had more pasta than I did, which I only realised when going through my pictures! We had mixed results. I had amazing gnocchi but wouldn’t say any of the pasta blew me away. We probably needed to go to slightly more high-class restaurants to get the good stuff!
Ravioli with Vegetable Sauce, Florence – The sauce was a bit weird as it seemed like they just threw whatever vegetables they had in. Matt had the exact same sauce on his spaghetti.
Blue Cheese and Pear Gnocchi, Cortona – This was so good! It looks a bit plain but the sauce was very rich and I ate this with a side of vegetables.
Veggie Lasagne a la Matt’s Aunty, Cortona – We stayed in an apartment in Cortona for a few nights with Matt’s Aunty and Uncle. It was so nice to eat in!
The staple for a vegetarian on a budget in a foreign country. We ate an awful lot of paninis, foccacias, bruchetta and wraps. Usually with cheese.
Mozzarella, Tomato and Rocket Focaccia, Pisa – This was our brunch from a coffee shop right next to Pisa station. After accidentally ordering a ‘latte’ (just milk), they then added coffee and served it luke warm. Yuck!
Tomato Bruschetta, Florence – This was our entrée before our weird pasta and once drenched in balsamic, it was amazing!
Basket of Bread, Florence – The brown bread was so delicious!
Vegan burger, Florence – the spinach patty was delicious.
Mozzarella and Veg Panini, Florence – A hot, melty panini after queuing for three hours at the Uffizi Gallery was perfect.
Mixed Bruschetta, Cortona – This was my entrée for the winning pizza. The spinach was my favourite.
Aubergine, Tomato & Mozzarella Panini, Siena – We struggled to find vegetarian lunch here! Ended up finding a cute little place that had two veggie options left – this one and a courgette focaccia. Sold!
Mozzarella and Salad Panini, Rome – Last sandwich of the trip! Until they served the vegetarians mozzarella and tomato wraps on the plane. Sigh…
Soup made such a nice change to the stodgy pasta and bread we were eating most of the time. It also rained a lot on a trip so was perfect on those cold days!
Vegetable and Bean Soup, Pienza – This was so delicious and filling!
Vegetable Soup, Rome – This was far too watery and oily for me so I mostly picked out the vegetables and left the broth.
Salad & Vegetables
Mozzarrella & Tomato Salad and Fennel and Blood Orange Salad, Cortona – Made by Matt’s Aunty again, these were so delicious and fresh!
Mixed Salad, Cortona – Simple but tasty and fresh salad to accompany our home-made lasagne.
Mixed Grilled Vegetables, Cortona – The side to my gnocchi.
Tofu and Vegetables, Naples – The one good thing about Naples was this amazing vegetarian restaurant we found, Un Sorriso Integrale. We both had tofu as our main (mine grilled, Matt’s fried with a tomato sauce), then risotto balls, white wine courgette and spicy pumpkin as sides. All vegan except maybe the risotto balls, all delicious. The spicy pumpkin was AMAZING.
Tofu, Naples – Simple yet delicious with the sides!
Mixed Salad, Rome – This came with our pizzas and was such a weird mix of vegetables that one spoonful was enough for me…
Mixed Sweet Cakes, Florence – These were from a brilliant farmers market on a side street in Florence. Very sweet but delicious!
Crisps, Florence – Got so excited when I discovered what looked just like Twisties!
Crisps, Florence – Slightly less artificially orange than Twisties but almost as good! Almost.
Dried Fruit, Siena – This was from a cute little market shop in Siena and was honestly the tastiest dried papaya and mango I have ever eaten!
Ricciarelli, Siena – Traditional almond biscuit.
Canapes, Cortona – When you get drinks at a bar in the evening, they give you free canapes! Unfotunately, Matt and I couldn’t eat most of them but we ate those mini pizza pieces.
Apple Cake, Rome – Our healthy breakfast on the last day in Rome!
Coffee & Hot Chocolate
Hot Chocolate, Florence – This stuff is almost just melted chocolate in a glass. So rich but pretty darn good!
Coconut Hot Chocolate, Florence – So good!
Coffee, Siena – Far too much foam for my liking (and for a ‘latte’) and gosh, I missed skinny or soy milk!
Iced Coffee, Naples – I wish these things were sold in the UK. They’re like frappucinos in a cup! I got Espresso for a massive coffee hit after around 3 hours sleep in my hostel.
Strawberry and Coconut Gelato, Florence
Mango Gelato, Cortona
Sooo much food! Being vegetarian was hard enough in Italy but being vegan would have been ridiculous. No wonder we failed Tofu Tuesday so miserably! Of course, if you live in a country I imagine you would know where to go but as a tourist on a tight budget and often with very limited time to go and grab something on the run, it was pretty difficult not to end up with some variation of bread and cheese.
I highly recommend the HappyCow website if you do want to look into vegan and vegetarian restaurants when you travel as we loved our little slices of heaven in Florence and Naples.
By the end of the trip, we were so sick of pizza and pasta that on our last evening in Italy, we ordered Indian…