Any time from about 11:30 in the morning until into the evening, small crowds of people can be seen standing around mobile kiosks on street corners or in squares dotted about the centre of Florence. With their boiling cauldrons, marble or glass counters and stools on the pavement, these kiosks attract students, bankers, housewives, bricklayers, pensioners and, more and more often, discerning tourists - all with one common desire. They are all impatiently awaiting for the trippaio (tripe seller) to hand them over a plate of fast food Florentine-style: a dish of tripe or steaming hot lampredotto roll.
A sight very seldom seen in other Italian cities, the trippaio has been selling his delicious snacks on Florentine streets for well over one hundred years and is an institution in the city. Today, some of the best known trippai include the trippaio del Porcellino found at the back of Piazza del Mercato Nuovo (commonly known as the Straw Market), Marione, situated inside the San Lorenzo Market and, my favourite, the father and son tripe dynasty, Sergio and Pierpaolo, who are strategically placed and unashamedly do a roaring trade outside one of Florence’s most fashionable restaurants near the market of Sant’ Ambrogio.