I couldn’t go on a road trip throughout Italy without making a stop at one of my favorite cities in the entire world.
Florence, a place where I called home for four years, will always have a special place in my heart. This renaissance city is unlike anywhere else with magical scenery and of course impeccable food. Since Tommaso and I lived here for several years and know the city quite well, we love just walking around the historic city center admiring the beautiful piazzas and eating our way through the town. Tommaso’s friend has various apartments throughout the city which he typically rents out on Airbnb and was nice enough to let us stay in one for a discounted price. It really was in prime location overlooking the Arno river.
Right near the apartment was one of my favorite gelato shops, La Carraia, so of course I had to get some. So creamy and delicious
Before dinner we went to Piazza Santo Spirito aka the “hipster” piazza to grab drinks with my Italian friend, Luca. Luca was one of the first people I met in 2011 when I moved here and we quickly hit it off. It was great seeing him and meeting his girlfriend.
After drinks we headed to Trattoria Pandemonio which used to be one of our favorite restaurants in the city.
We always get the eggplant tower covered in a scrumptious cheese sauce. So good.
Tuna with white beans and red onion is a classic combination. With lots of fresh black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil, it’s a great appetizer.
Salame, prosciutto, and finocchiona were served for this mixed salumi platter. Finocchiona is a Tuscan salame which is flavored with fennel seeds and it’s one of my favorites.
Ribbons of fresh pasta were tossed in a rich sausage ragù and sweet stewed leeks.
One of my favorite pasta dishes is spaghetti bottarga and sadly I rarely eat it. Something about the simplicity of the pasta with shaved dried mullet roe and lemon zest makes for a delectable mix of flavors.
One of the reasons we always go back to Trattoria Pandemonio is for their tiramisu. The texture of the mascarpone mixture is super airy and soft and we always struggle to recreate that same texture when we try to make it at home.
After dinner we walked back to the apartment and the Ponte Vecchio was stunning as usual.
The following morning we decided to run my old running route. I was a little apprehensive as I rarely run and have trouble keeping up with Tommaso’s long legs. Needless to say, my feet were a little wrecked after our run.
After our run it was time for lunch and we wanted to get paninis at All Antico Vinaio, our old spot. However in recent years the sandwich spot has become so popular that the lines are absolutely insane. We went to ‘Ino instead, another favorite, but it’s on the pricier side.
After our paninis, we walked to my old fruit and vegetable stand where I would buy my produce every week and the owners remembered us. They also sell the best cantuccini so we bought a few bags. Of course I had to pass by my old apartment, Via del Presto 2.
Tommaso was still a little hungry after the panino so we walked to the famous lampredotto stand, Sergio Pollini Lampredotto, where they sell just a few types of sandwiches that are typical regional classics. While it’s not my cup of tea, lampredotto (made from the 4th chamber of a cow’s stomach) is very popular here. The meat is thinly sliced and chopped up and served with a salsa verde sauce.
After all these paninis we needed to get some steps in. We walked to Gelateria de’ Medici which is outside the city center and it’s one of the oldest gelato shops in Florence. While the trek was a little long, the gelato was so worth it!
So by the looks of this day, we basically spent the entire day eating various paninis and I’m not mad about it. Our last stop was at Da’ Vinattieri, right next to my old apartment. Was I even that hungry? No but when’s the next time I’m going to be here so yolo.
After a day of a lot of snacks and walking, we relaxed on the rooftop at the apartment and enjoyed the spectacular view. It doesn’t even look real!
Later that night we dined at Ristorante Natalino, another favorite of ours.
I love a good mixed appetizer and this consisted of crostini with chicken liver pâté (a regional dish), prosciutto, and salumi.
Sweet sun dried tomatoes made the filling of these delightful ravioli with a pistachio pesto and luscious Stracciatella cheese on top. Yum!
The main reason I keep coming back to Ristorante Natalino is for this dish. It’s literally perfection. These delicious bundles are stuffed with a pear and Pecorino cheese and then dressed in a rich Gorgonzola sauce topped with pine nuts. It’s heaven.
The stewed hearty beef cheek was a great savory course to end our meal. It was rich and unctuous and the spinach on the side made you feel like you were eating somewhat healthy.
Are you even surprised we got two desserts? Of course we were fighting over the last bite as usual.
We ended our night walking around the city and stopped through Piazza Santa Croce.
Our last day in Florence started bright and early by walking through the city center and passing by Piazza Duomo to admire the amazing Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. Hard to believe that I used to pass by this everyday when I lived here.
We then headed to Mercato Centrale where there’s ton of vendors outside selling leather goods. Inside the market, you’ll find seafood, meat, produce, and other food vendors. On the second floor, you’ll find the eatery with baked goods, pizzas, pasta, and some international cuisine. Since it was still early, we got some pastries for breakfast.
After exploring the market we met up with Luca and walked around the city center.
We had a colorful and very tasty lunch at Libreria Brac, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant since Luca is a very passionate vegan. I couldn’t have asked for a better time catching up with him!
Before our final dinner we had to make the trek to Piazzale Michelangelo for the most epic views of the city. My old running route would pass by this piazza and it’s still breathtakingly beautiful even though I’ve seen it countless times.
I had to save the best for last for our final supper. Ristorante Del Fagioli is a trattoria where Tommaso and I used to dine all the time. This no frills restaurant just hits the spot every time with its homey Tuscan cuisine.
We started off with another antipasto misto just like all the previous nights. It’s hard to pass up.
Ribotta is a Tuscan dish stew made with old bread, cavolo nero (black cabbage), and white beans. Every restaurant has their own way of making this traditional comforting dish.
Pici is one of my favorite types of pasta but I rarely eat it. Thick long noodles were dressed in a garlicky tomato sauce. So divine.
Potato stuffed pasta with butter and meaty guanciale (cured pork jowl), what’s not to love?!
Roasted pork was seasoned with rosemary and sage. Simple home cooking but so enjoyable.
I always have to get the braciola, rolled beef that’s been stewed in tomato sauce and it comes with these stewed potatoes that melt in your mouth.
While I was hoping that they had their signature torta di Ricotta con pera e ciocolato, it wasn’t on the menu that night. The apple cake was still yummy though.
After our final dinner we walked past Gelateria dei Neri, another great gelato shop, so I had to stop and get some. I mean I’m in Italy after all!
If you couldn’t tell, I’m head over heels for Florence. I love everything about the city from the cobblestone streets, grand piazzas, and outstanding Tuscan cuisine and I’m already looking forward to my next visit there whenever that might be.