Panini Toscani

In Florence, The Art of Travel Spring 2018, 12. Strangers by Annie1 Comment

There is a place nearby that sells the most incredible paninis. It is called Panini Toscani and is located right near the Duomo. I tend to eat there 1-2 times per week. The line is often long, and I plan on setting aside half an hour to make sure I leave enough time to wait before I get my food. There is an older man who works in Panini Toscani who serves customers samples of the cheeses and meats they offer before selecting the contents of their sandwich. While I do not know this man’s name, I know that I can trust him in a sense. I had been told I MUST visit a panini place called All’ Antico Vinaio, and when I went I had anything but a good experience. The meat tasted like the actual animal and I found several hairs in my sandwich. I left frazzled and disgusted by the poor service and lack of sanitation. With long lines and increasing popularity, All’ Antico Vinaio does not have to treat customers well. They know that regardless, they will have the demand for their product.

When I step in Panini Toscani, the staff greet me with a smile. They give you any sample you wish and are extremely personable. Each customer gets the sampling experience. After my experience at All’Antico Vinaio, I started to care a lot about the staff at each place I eat. Before, I would never question the quality of food or even wonder how it was prepared. If it tasted right, it seemed good enough and most likely was prepared fine. Especially if so many people recommended it. But the man who works there always treats me with respect. He also even remembers what kind of panini I order.

The most lovable thing about Panini Toscani is probably the fact that it is extremely small. The staff is squeezed in behind the glass counter and a man at the door greets people and has them go into the shop in very small groups. I’ve sent so many people there who have asked for restaurant recommendations. Today, when I went for dinner I let them know how amazing I think it is. The store was about to close, and I ran in to grab a bite. They smiled when I couldn’t quite understand their heavy accent when asking me about where I am from (They thought I had said Transylvania instead of Pennsylvania). I was enjoying my conversation so much with the staff at Panini Toscani that I almost left without taking my sandwich!


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(Image: Panini Toscani; Source: Annie Barson)


  1. Hey Annie! I have had a really similar experience here in Buenos Aires too! The restaurants I frequent aren’t well-known, and may not necessarily be well rated on google or trip advisor or what not, but the people there are nice, always ask how I am and over time we have developed a relationship, which I imagine you have done the same with the staff at Panini Toscani as well. I think food and restaurants give us a comfort of new places that we go to and I’m glad you’ve found your own little place where strangers have become friends!

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