Florence is a city of beauty; even the least corner hides treasures for the eye. The Mercato Centrale, a downtown food market, is a two-story wonderland of gleaming food stalls. Tucked into one corner of the orderly arrangement is Nerbone, a lunch counter serving the market’s buyers and sellers since 1874. Nerbone offers just a few antipasti, primi, secondi, and sandwiches each day. On a cool, wet November day, I sampled the ribollita–the iconic tuscan bread and vegetable soup–and found their version so thick and delicious, it could have doubled as a sandwich spread. To chase the ribollita, I opted for a panino bollito, a two-fisted sandwich of seasoned, boiled beef. This self-service lunch, eaten at a marble-topped table with a view of the butchers and flower vendors at adjoining stalls, cost a whole 7 euros. Perfection doesn’t have to come at a high price, or with exotic ingredients; Nerbone achieves it through faultless repetition.
Celeste, I was so excited to see this post! Carmelo and I used to eat at Nerbone all the time when we were students in Florenc! The ribollita was my absolute favorite. Do they still have the sign with their poem: Sono Fuerte como un Leone, per che mangia a el Nerbone! ? After a fantastic, dirt cheap meal, we would have blood oranges from the vendor upstairs for dessert.
I didn’t notice the sign, but my Italian is so poor that it could have been prominently posted, and the words would have just washed right over me. The whole Mercato Centrale is magical…food Disneyland, where everything is beautiful & delicious.
I ate here almost every day! What great food; they even make tripe sound great. I even met my non-Italian boyfriend here…