We weren’t really looking for food – we were just looking right. As we meandered along the humming streets of Florence, the Duomo appeared like a rising moon in the distance. It’s difficult not to be enchanted by this marble marvel – it is truly fascinating. We wandered, we watched, we wondered where the green and pink façade would reappear. It was on our right hand side, and that’s how we found ourselves opposite Panino Vegano.
The small but snug gluten free café hides on Via Maurizio Bufalini, which is about two minutes walk (if that) from the Duomo. A large window looks onto a line of mopeds; the menu sits on a mock chalkboard and a couple of staff work contentedly in the corner. It wasn’t so busy as to be uncomfortable, but there were ‘real Italians’ and good smells, which won it for us.
Unsurprisingly, Panino Vegano’s ‘thing’ is burgers. We chose from soya, okara and chickpea patties on a crisp sourdough bun, plus two vegetable additions. This ranged from the standard fried onions, peppers and courgette to rosemary-roasted potatoes. However the highlight of these delicious burgers is the sauce. We can talk ketchup if you prefer, but Panino Vegano also offer homemade carrot or beetroot mayo. The carrot mayonnaise was sweet, without the artificial tang of shop-bought varieties.
To finish, you can’t beat a soya cappuccino. The Italian coffee was so delicious we had two each, and I’ve now begun to order soya milk coffee in Costa (it just seems to froth really creamily). As we drank, the server tried to chat to us. Despite the insurmountable language barrier (neither of us had a clue what the other was saying) he smiled away happily as we gave him a thumbs up for the coffee.
You may not be gluten intolerant, but trust me – after a week in Italy, you’ll be begging for bloat-free carbohydrates. Finding Panino Vegano was a real godsend for me – my wee Scottish stomach was finding the heavy meals and lack of porridge hard-going. We stepped back towards the mopeds and the piazzas on a caffeine high, moving towards the spiral staircase of the Firenze Duomo with satisfied stomachs.
You can access Panino Vegano’s website by clicking here.