Can you believe I still haven’t written a post about Florence, my home for almost four years! You can’t even begin to imagine how many photos I’ve taken since I moved here. This Renaissance city has truly stolen my heart since the day I arrived.
I had first visited Florence in the summer of 2009 as a study abroad student and completely fell in love with the city. When I returned in 2011, it felt like I had never left the city to begin with. What I love most about this romantic city is that it’s small enough where everything is within walking distance yet still has all the aspects of a big city. I can visit a museum, go grocery shopping, workout at the gym, eat at a local trattoria, watch a movie at the cinema, dance all night at a club, or marvel at any one of the beautiful piazzas, all within 15 minutes walking distance from my apartment!
One of my favorite times in Florence is during the holidays because of the festive atmosphere around the city and of course the German Christmas market! Every year in Piazza Santa Croce, wooden stalls are set up where they sell everything from souvenirs, toys, clothes, bath products, jewelry, and of course food. Here you can enjoy German, Austrian, and Polish cuisine! You’ll find sausages, goulash, pierogies, apple strudel, sacher torte, donuts, vin brulé, and much more!
Florence is also known for the famous San Lorenzo Central Food Market. Here you will find everything from fresh fruit and vegetable stands, fresh pasta shops, bakeries, butcher shops, fish markets, cheese and salumi shops, and wine shops. The top floor of the market now has a dining area where you can enjoy eating pasta, pizza, fried foods, cheeses, salumi, and much more.
Alright, let’s talk food. Here is my insider’s guide to everything and anything food related in Florence! If you’re in a hurry the best quick meal is a panino. Here are some of my favorite sandwich shops within the city center.
- All’Antico Vinaio: huge sandwich for 5 euros with all sorts of delicious meats and toppings.
- I Due Fratellini: smaller sandwich for 3 euros, more simple toppings.
- ‘Ino: gourmet sandwiches, slightly more expensive.
- Sergio Pollini Lampredotto: traditional florentine sandwiches such as lampredotto (made from the fourth chamber of a cows stomach) or trippa (made from only the first three chambers of a cows stomach).
Now you can’t go to Italy and not get gelato! Here are some of my favorite gelato shops if you’ve got a sweet tooth.
- Grom: yes it might be a chain gelato shop but they use the best ingredients, be sure to try the crema di grom (egg based ice cream with biscuits and chocolate chips).
- Gelateria alla Carraia: across the river, right after Ponte alla Carraia.
- Gelateria de’ Medici: one of Florence’s oldest gelato shops serving 44 flavors, slightly outside the city center.
- Some other favorites include: Antica Gelateria Fiorentina, Gelateria dei Neri, and Perché No!
One of my favorite things to do in Florence is to relax at an enoteca, a wine bar, sip on a glass of delicious vino and enjoy a quick snack. Here are a few of my favorite places to enjoy wine while eating some goodies.
Alright, as you can imagine I have eaten at a lot of restaurants in my four years living here. One of my favorite trattorias in Florence is Del Fagioli where they serve good home cooked meals just like grandmas.
Another favorite of mine is Ristorante Natalino.
If you’re on a budget then Osteria Santo Spirito is the right place for you! Not only is it very affordable and delicious but they give huge portions!
Now you can’t visit Florence without trying the famous bistecca alla fiorentina, the T-bone steak! Here are some of my favorite trattorias serving up some good ol’ steaks plus other specialties of the house.
If you’re not really in the mood for meat then perhaps something else, maybe truffles? If so, head down to Osteria delle Tre Panche where you can choose from a plethora of truffle dishes!
Well, If you’re tired of traditional Italian food then I would recommended Ristorante Il Santo Graal, serving contemporary and innovative Italian food but at an affordable price.
Another modern Italian restaurant I enjoyed was Io Osteria Personale. What’s really interesting about this restaurant is that they don’t serve any pasta dishes which is quite unusual for an Italian restaurant.
One of Florence’s most popular restaurants is Il Santo Bevitore. This restaurant is always packed due to its fun lively atmosphere and great food.
Now, If you’re thinking basta pasta I’ve had enough Italian food then I have a few awesome restaurants that you can try. First, Dim Sum is my favorite place if you’re craving some asian food. It’s definitely not authentic Chinese food but in terms of quality of ingredients it’s the best I’ve had in Florence. You can even see them make fresh hand-pulled noodles and dumplings! Service is also always top notch.
If you’re craving some Greek food, a new cute café just opened up called Alas le Delizie Greche. The staff is extremely friendly and the food is very fresh and tasty.
Another café I love is Le Vespe where they serve ” American” brunch, awesome sandwiches and wraps, and international tapas for dinner.
Well, there you have it! Some of my favorite spots to mangia in Florence. Of course I have plenty of other places I can recommend but the list would be too long! Also check out my posts on Ora d’Aria, Il Palagio, and Enoteca Pinchiorri if you’re looking for a total fine dining experience in Florence.