The iconic romantic city of Florence is not just the birthplace of the Renaissance but also the capital of Tuscany and the best place to feast on Tuscan cuisine. Under the Tuscan sun, the Italian concept of cucina povera (‘poor cooking’) is applicable when it comes to food. The food is all about simple cooking involving high-quality, fresh ingredients for whipping up large meals. This concept continues to this day, not by the economy but by choice instead, with many Tuscan dishes having been invented based on the 'waste not’ philosophy. Tuscany’s rolling greens are also excellent sources for locally-grown produce, aptly termed 'nostrale’ (ours). So, when you head to the famed capital, what should you dig into? Read on to know all about what kinds of food to try in Florence.
1. Pane Toscano
Pane Toscano is a traditional saltless (‘sciocco’) Tuscan bread with very interesting origins. When disputes arose between the Pisans and the Florentines in the 12th century, Pisans blocked the ports to spite the Florentines and kept salt from reaching them. The middle-class had to make do without the expensive salt, and Pane Toscano was born. Today, Pane Toscano is important in Tuscany and accompanies almost every Florentine meal - as an appetizer, to thicken soups, or as a base for other dishes like Bruschetta and Crostini. It is recognized under the European Union’s 'protected designation of origin’ trademark as well.
Where to eat: Pane e Toscana
Address: Borgo degli Albizi, 31, 50122, Florence
Average Price (2 PAX): 2-6 USD
Timings: Monday 11am - 8pm, Tuesday-Thursday 11am - 7pm, Friday-Saturday 11am - 11pm, Sunday closed
Website: Pane & Toscana
2. Crostini neri
Typically kicking off a Tuscan Christmas dinner, crostini neri (‘black crostini’) is a traditional antipasto of chicken livers, herbs, capers, and anchovy paste (brownish-black in colour) on crisp bread. Crostini’s origins date back to when people, instead of using a plate, took food directly off trays at dinner tables and placed it on bread to eat it; a tradition which continued till the 17th century. The bread piece soaked in meat pieces, sauces, and oils, become extremely flavourful. Since then, crostini has been an important part of a Tuscan meal, with every home and restaurant in Florence having their own version.
Where to eat: All’Antico Vinaio
Address: Via dei Neri, 76R, 50122, Florence
Average price (2 PAX): 8-15 USD
Timings: All days 10:30am - 11pm
Website: All’Antico Vinaio
This intense, rich, and wildly popular cousin of ice-cream hails from Florence and has a base of sugar and milk. Gelato has more flavouring, less air, and less fat, thus lending it a richness and density very different from other ice-creams. In Italy, fragola (strawberry) and limone (lemon) are very popular flavours. In the better gelaterias, gelato is served in flat metal tins with lids. It has a natural, muted colour and isn’t shiny, it features seasonal flavours, and is prepared using flat, metal ‘spades’. Look for signs such as artiginale (handcrafted), produzione propia (own production), or gelato fatto en casa (homemade ice cream) indicative of authentic gelaterias.
Where to eat: La Carraia
Address: Piazza Nazario Sauro, 25r, Florence
Average price (2 PAX): 2.7-3 USD
Timings: All days 11am - 10pm
Website: La Carraia
The little-heard traditional Tuscan dessert of Zuccotto with Florentine origins is a chilled, semi-frozen dessert of ice-cream, cake, and the bright-red Tuscan liquor Alchermes. Zuccotto is frozen and subsequently thawed before serving. The dessert is widely believed to have been inspired by the dome of Florence Cathedral, while others say that it resembles a zuchetto, a Roman Catholic cleric’s skullcap. A pumpkin-shaped mould (zuccotto is ‘little pumpkin’ in Italian) is used to create the dessert. The rich, pastry-filled, layered delicacy is refrigerated for a minimum of 24 hours for the filling to set, before being served inverted.
Where to eat: Bottega di Pasticceria
Address: Lungarno Francesco Ferrucci 9C Rosso, Florence
Average price (2 PAX): 6-20 USD
Timings: Tuesday-Sunday 7am - 10pm, Monday closed
Website: Bottega di Pasticceria
One of Tuscany’s top bakery treats is schiacciata (‘squashed’/'pressed’), a flatbread of flour, olive oil, salt, yeast, and water. The dish is also called focaccia, schiaccia, and ciaccia. The distinct holes are created when the dough is pressed with fingers. Schiacciata is made in five variations - extremely thin, high and soft filled with cold cuts, medium thickness with semi-soft crust and crispy surface, one made with bread dough, and one with special flavours. Tuscans particularly enjoy a variant filled with cold cuts (mortadella) or cheese. Make your way to the local Panetteria ('bakery’) to grab a schiacciata.
Where to eat: Osteria All’Antico Vinaio
Address: Via dei Neri, 76R, 50122, Florence
Average price (2 PAX): 8-15 USD
Timings: All days 10:30am - 11:pm
Website: All’Antico Vinaio
Tagliere is a cheese and meat platter and one of Florence’s most famous and popularly consumed appetizers. Literally meaning ‘cutting board’, tagliere often features a whole cutting board brought to the table as the serving plate. It is a charcuterie featuring delectable regional salami slices like finocchiona, prosciutto, and cheeses accompanied by an assortment of crostini (often topped with olive/tomatoes patè, fegato, or lardo di colonnata). Usually served at wine bars and now available in almost all Florentine restaurants, a tagliere can also include vegetables preserved in sotto aceto or oil, an assortment of breads and olives.
Where to eat: Coquinarius
Address: Via delle Oche, 11R, 50122, Florence
Average price (2 PAX): 20-65 USD
Timings: All days 12:30pm - 3pm, 6:30pm - 10:30pm
7. Zuppa Inglese
Zuppa Inglese literally means ‘English soup’, but in fact, it is far from that. It is an iconic cool, sweet, Italian rum cake dessert made of sponge cake and custard. Widely believed to have been derived from tiramisù and bearing a strong resemblance to the English trifle, the dish also has a popular gelato flavour. Zuppa Inglese is made by dipping the sponge cake in Alchermes and alternating them with layers of thick egg custard called crema pasticcera. Occasionally, a crema alla cioccolato is also added, which is dissolved dark chocolate in plain crema pasticcera. The dish is sometimes topped with almonds, meringue, or cream.
Where to eat: Trattoria le Mossacce
Address: Via del Proconsolo 55/r, 50122, Florence
Average price (2 PAX): 16-30 USD
Timings: Sunday-Friday 12pm - 2:30pm, 7pm - 9:30pm, Saturday and holidays closed
Website: Trattoria le Mossacce
8. Pappardelle al cinghiale
Pappardelle al Cinghiale is typically a Tuscan wide ribbon pasta (pappardelle) cooked in rich wild boar (cinghiale) sauce cooked during the autumn hunting season. The cinghiale is one of Tuscany’s local best, distinct-tasting meats, which is sometimes replaced with the milder pork shoulder. In the most classic recipes, the boar meat is either marinated in the red wine overnight or the sauce is simmered for at least 2 hours on low heat, which results in the dish’s melt-in-the-mouth tenderness. A bouquet of dried chilli pepper, sage, rosemary, and bay leaves lend the sauce both its rich and spicy nature.
Where to eat: i TOSCANI
Address: Via Maggio, 1 rosso, 50125, Florence
Average price (2 PAX): 2-28 USD
Timings: Monday-Thursday 9am -10pm, Friday-Saturday 9am - 11pm, Sunday 10am - 10pm
Website: i TOSCANI
9. Trippa & lampredotto
Sandwiches filled with trippa and lampredotto (offal/organ meat) are icons of Florence’s street culinary tradition. The edible lining of a cow’s stomach is trippa (tripe) which is eaten worldwide. Lampredotto, a Florentine speciality, is the fourth, and final stomach of a cow usually slow-cooked with onion, tomato, celery, and parsley. Both are soaked in the broth and traditionally served on a crunchy bun with green/spicy sauce. When in Florence, eat like the Florentines - head to the famous street food stands (‘chioschi’) where you’ll be able to gorge on trippa and lampredetto at stalls aptly named lampredottai or trippai (literally meaning makers of lampredetto and trippa).
Where to eat: L’Antico Trippaio
Address: Piazza de Cimatori, 50122, Florence
Average price (2 PAX): 3-9 USD
Timings: All days 9:30am - 8pm
Website: L’Antico Trippaio
10. Bistecca alla Fiorentina
Bistecca fiorentina (T-bone steak) is a deeply traditional Florentine recipe typically from the ancient Tuscan Chianina cattle known for its tasty, prized meat. The dish has just five ingredients, is grilled over red-hot coals, seasoned with local spices, and traditionally served ‘rare’. The size of bistecca fiorentina is huge and one needs dining companions to finish it. The Fiorentino cook the meat for just 7-8 minutes (both sides combined), giving the impression of the meat being undercooked. However, that is how the bistecca is supposed to be enjoyed, and it would be prudent for travellers to not ask, to cook it more.
Where to eat: Trattoria da Gozzi
Address: Piazza di San Lorenzo, 8R, Florence
Average price (2 PAX): 12-18 USD
Timings: Monday-Saturday 12pm - 3pm, Sunday closed
Website: Trattoria da Gozzi
Another popular and favorite Tuscan dish is Ribollita, which is a type of soup made mainly with ingredients such as leftover bread, cannellini beans, and vegetables. Some chefs go the extra mile of adding numerous types of vegetables. It tastes like a typical bread soup on the first day the soup is boiled, however when you rewarm the soup on the second day, it couldn’t taste any better. This process of reboiling the soup on the next day is what gives the soup its name - Ribollita, which means reboiled in French. Though this is a classic winter soup recipe, people still love to eat this dish during the summer season.
Where to eat: Trattoria Marione
Address: Via della Spada, 27/Rosso, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Website: Trattoria Marione
Opening hours: 12pm - 5pm, 7pm - 11pm (daily)
12. Pollo al Burro
Pollo al Burro is a simple dish in Florence that is made up mainly of chicken and butter. It is easy to cook, and you can easily replicate it at home, but it would be recommended to try it at Trattoria Sostanza. This dish is suitable to have any time of the day - be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner and regardless of when you choose to have Pollo al Burro, this delicious chicken breast will surely satisfy your hunger!
Where to eat: Trattoria Sostanza
Address: Via del Porcellana, 25/R, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 12:30pm - 2pm, 7:30 - 9:45pm (closed on Sat & Sun)
Panzanella is a dish that is perfect to eat during the summertime. This Tuscan salad is ideal for light meals during lunch or supper. The ingredients used are quite easy to find, for example, stale bread, tomatoes, basil, onions, olive oil, and vinegar. Besides these ingredients, different types of vegetables are used in the recipe. But in Florence, you don’t have to wait for your bread to get old before tasting Panzanella as there are numerous restaurants offering this unique type of salad!
Where to eat: Trattoria Borgo Antico
Address: Piazza Santo Spirito, 6-red, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Website: Trattoria Borgo Antico
Opening hours: 12pm - 12am (daily)
14. All'in zimino
All’in zimino or popularly known as ‘Seppie in zimino’ in Florence is a city specialty. The dish is created with ingredients such as seafood and fresh green vegetables. While some chefs cook this dish with octopus coupled with spinach and herbs, others use cuttlefish with leafy greens. This dish goes best with Vermentino wine as it adds another depth of flavor to All’in zimino.
Where to eat: Cantinetta Antinori
Address: Piazza degli Antinori, 3, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Website: Cantinetta Antinori
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 12:30pm - 2:30pm, 7pm - 10:30pm (closed on Sun)
Cantucci or most commonly known as Biscotti is a delectable Italian almond biscuit. This delicacy originated from the city of Prato which is often paired with a glass of Italian dessert wine called Vin Santo. Whether you’re visiting a friend’s home or dining in a restaurant, this dessert most likely will be offered to you. The biscuit is quite easy to make with a few ingredients such as raw almonds, flour, sugar, eggs, and pine nuts.
Where to eat: Il Cantuccio di San Lorenzo
Address: Via Sant'Antonino, 23/red, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Website: Il Cantuccio di San Lorenzo
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9am - 7:30pm; Sun: 9am - 6:30pm
Fabulous Florentine cuisine
Florence’s true-to-the-heart Tuscan food, is flavourful, extremely, hearty and quite filling. The above is but a fraction of the vast range of delicious Florentine cuisine. Remember when you do visit Florence, come on an empty stomach!
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