Eating alone in Florence: a how to guide

Eating alone seems to be the only rubbish thing about travelling alone.
Travelling alone is wonderful – you get to do your itinerary, and like the obsessive Bronzino fan that I am, you get to revisit his painted chapel twice because there’s no sourpuss telling me I’m being boring.
Best of all is having a press card and therefore getting free entrance into everything in Italy. I never travel with anybody else who has one of these, so that’s already a strike against me poking my head into the Uffizi twice in one day.

Best of all, I like making the decision of whether or not I want to do things. If I was with my partner, I might walk down the long hill to the river because that’s what we should be doing. Alone I can decide that that would be a terrible idea and instead sit on a bench and sketch (badly) some cupola or other. Days are longer by yourself, and in a world of haste and panic, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

But mealtimes suck. These are social affairs anywhere in the world, and nowhere more so than Italy. Being a single traveller amid enormous families meeting together for a robust Sunday meal is awkward at best. What do you do? Stare around the room? Take a book with you (that you can only read in between mouthfuls if you buy anything that requires cutting up)? Awkwardly poke your phone for no reason at all? Write long, despondent articles such as this one about the awkwardness of eating alone?
Add that to the fact that I definitely eat on British time, which means I consider 1pm to be fine time for lunch. Inevitably, this means I am the only person in the restaurant, so, as now, I have waiters hovering over me. Or, also in this care, just one man on the pizza over, chin in hands, staring at me. But hey, dining choices, it’s my bad.