As a big fan of Italian food I could have eaten out for every meal, and essentially we did. I tried to have one 'pasta' and one 'pizza' per day to make sure I tried as many things as possible.
Previously we've established that the best Pizza I had in Italy was actually in Pisa in a fairly touristy place (no one more shocked than I).
Here is a quick tour of the Pizza side of things, in no particular order.
Here I ate essentially the same pizza as above, but at what can only be described as a take-away pizza place with a few tables by the road. They seemed genuinely confused to see tourists eating in such a cheap place (Marini de Pisa is mostly for people with Yachts) at such an odd hour, but the pizzas were competent and tasty. This is most notable however because the base was very much a focaccia instead of a regular pizza base, which feels like a regional variation I can get behind. The effect was as if someone had fried the pizza base - if someone ran a chain like this in England they would be able to retire a Millionaire in two years tops.
Here in Siena I made my own olive based bread pizza - and naturally the real one arrived at the same time. Ham pizza means ham pizza - and here we see the same luscious and fluffy pizza base with some ham slapped on. A bit tourist trap (the view was great here) but essentially a really nice use of quality ingredients to do an efficient pizza. Very tough to cut with the sloping table and basic knife though!
Here we see why ordering in posher restaurants can go wrong - this pizza has no sauce or tomatoes at all! Maybe it's a response to a certain special diet, maybe it's a local delicacy of the back streets of Firenze. Essentially it's rocket, cheese and some kind of salted beef. The beef was amazing and tasted like it was marinated in Marmite - and was mouth watering enough to mean that this wasn't a dry meal after all. Strong and crazy flavours made this a real favourite, whether they were playing a practical joke on the English boy or not.
Interestingly this place was close enough to the back of a tourist museum for us to use the free wifi for the whole meal. A lovely touch which enabled us to plan our evening in the cool peace of the restaurant!
This was another thing where I'm not sure that I ordered a whole meal. I got steak, cheese (more than this - I gave some away) and leaves - the olives were in exchange for the cheese.
It was pretty expensive and initially I was a little disappointed - but then I tried the steak. Italians really understand how to get the best out of their meat! I really understand now why Europeans get upset with bland british food, and American sauces on everything. The cooking has made this into something to be treasured. I'm sure if my Italian was better that I'd have ended up with some kind of side of carbohydrates (probably bread) with this but I was so full after this that nothing else was required. As someone who isn't a fan of cheese this worked really well, but I am glad I stole some of the tomato and olives from the girls salads to round it out.
Last of all we have the first Pizza I ate in Italy. I didn't know what my baseline should be so I went for this sausage Pizza - and I think it's a creation just to keep German teenagers happy! It wasn't a bad pizza (the base and basic parts were fine) but I've had better toppings and felt like i'd thrown away one of my limited meal slots on something a bit too supermarket. It did however do the job and bring all of the above into context so I could appreciate all of the different angles.