What Is Florence, Italy's Iconic Street Food Lampredotto?

While you may envision your go-to pizza joint or pasta place when asked about your favorite Italian dishes, the country's food scene is far more diverse than that. Each of Italy's regions is known for its unique specialties, whether that's Piedmont's famed rice crop or Sardinia's delicate suckling pig and seafood (via Full Suitcase).

And if laid-back bites are your thing, Tuscany's fantastic street food is reason enough to travel for. Overall, the Italian street food scene isn't as prominent in Italy as in many other regions of the world, such as Southeast Asia. However, the city of Florence, tucked into the northeastern part of Tuscany, has some unbelievable grab-and-go dishes.

Florence is known for many of its street food dishes, but lampredotto might just be the most enviable. Their famous "chioschi" or street food stands, line the streets and dish out lampredotto, a traditional sandwich filled with an interesting cut of beef, says Visit Florence. Specifically, lampredotto is the "fourth and final stomach of a cow," according to the site, which is typically slow-cooked, sandwiched between crunchy bread, and paired with an array of vegetables and hot sauce.

Though today lampredotto is now Florentine street food royalty, it has much humbler beginnings.

History of lampredotto

According to Visit Florence, this sandwich dates back centuries, though for most of its history, it was considered peasant food. But this doesn't mean it wasn't popular as Florence was a city mostly comprised of poor working-class people. Per Atlas Obscura, the lampredotto sandwich was most likely a creation of these Florentine peasants who couldn't afford more popular cuts of beef. Cow stomachs were relatively cheap, especially the fourth stomach, which is made of glandular tissue, known as the abomasum. 

And little has changed on this front, as Culture Trip notes that these sandwiches are still a cheap meal, running only about €3 to 4. You will likely never see the classic sandwich in a sit-down place, rather they are exclusively sold on the street by vendors. But you won't have trouble finding one, as they are popular enough that a walk through any part of the city center will eventually lead you to a stand selling the dish. 

Ingredients in lampredotto

If you're walking through Florence's streets and come upon a lampredotto vendor, you will likely see the word trippa or trippai, as well. Both trippa and lampredotto are cuts of a cow's digestive tract and are used to make sandwiches or plated meals. However, according to Visit Florence, trippa can be made from different parts of the cow's stomach, while lampredotto is derived only from the cow's fourth stomach. For it to be a true lampredotto sandwich, the fourth stomach is the cut of meat that is needed.

The tender meat is typically slow-cooked alongside vegetables to make a more complex flavor. "Tomato, onion, carrot, parsley and celery," as Visit Florence notes, are often added to the pot with meat and eventually slathered alongside it on a crusty sandwich bread, which is often free of salt, says Florence Inferno. The sauce it's served with is typically composed of parsley, garlic, and capers and is often paired with chili-infused olive oil.

How lampredotto is made and eaten

If you can't make it to Italy anytime soon, you aren't likely to experience this sandwich. The preparation process is time-consuming, and really not worth the effort unless you're selling them. This is because the meat needs to slow cook, and your local butcher shop will need to carry this specific cut of organ meat, according to Visit Florence. If you are able to get your hands on lampredotto, the entire piece will need to be stewed alongside the onions, carrots, celery, and any other veggies you choose.

While lampredotto can also be plated like any other beef cut, the roast-beef-like meat is commonly enjoyed in sandwiches. Atlas Obscura says typically they are made with crisp sandwich bread slathered in green parsley sauce and spicy olive oil, though sometimes, the top bun is moistened with tripe broth. The cooked-down vegetables complete the dish and finish the sandwich with a tender and savory bite. 

If a stroll through Florence is in your future, be on the lookout for this truly one-of-a-kind sandwich!