Oh, Florence, its iconic vistas, glorious art, romantic bridges, and… scrumptious traditional fare! Yes, the world-acclaimed Cradle of the Renaissance is also a haven of superb cuisine. But what food is Florence, Italy, known for? What does the city’s culinary legacy stem from and, above all, what specialties should you try when in town? Reading this short guide you’ll learn:
- what are the foods you must try
- where to eat in Florence: the best places
- best place to eat bistecca alla fiorentina
- average cost of eating out in Firenze
Coccoli, pappa al pomodoro, crostini, lampredotto, bistecca, lesso… read on for an enlightening overview of Tuscany’s gastronomic highlights, and learn what foods Florence, Italy is known for!
What foods is Florence, Italy known for?
Art, architecture, history, and food go hand in hand in Florence. In fact, Florentine cuisine as we know it now dates back to the Middle Ages and Renaissance, exactly like the city’s spectacular framework and magnificent masterpieces! And, if you look at period chronicles to find out what foods Florence, Italy was known for around the 1500s, for instance, little has changed: the traditional dishes one enjoys in downtown Florence stem from the surrounding countryside, its ancient recipes and extraordinary products.
Authentic Florentine cuisine: a memorable experience
Indeed, the contado (Medieval term for a rural area near a city) where the Medici lords used to hunt, rear livestock, and grow fruit and vegetables still thrives and flourishes today, yielding the bountiful wholesome produce and signature typical delicacies that are the core of authentic Italian food in Florence. Hence, downtown restaurants, trattorias, and picturesque countryside casali serve a very similar selection of soul-pleasing dishes based on the ancient cucina contadina, i.e. farmer’s table.
Food from farm to table
In Florence, Italy, food specialties and most typical recipes were originally created to avoid waste and make the best of what each season offered. This is why authentic Italian food, in Florence, includes soups, and other creative solutions devised to make use of old bread. Thick, nutritious ribollita, peasant soup made with bread, kale and other vegetables, and gratifying cannellini bean soup served in winter are replaced by pappa al pomodoro, bread and tomato soup, and panzanella, bread and vegetable salad, in summer.
Florentine bistecca means meat galore!
The verdant Florentine countryside houses splendid pastures, and the cows, among which the ancient Chianina breed, sheep and pigs bred here provide spectacular meats. Simply cooked, these become signature local dishes that are nothing short of incredible. Bistecca alla fiorentina, a large, thick T-bone steak, and peposo, a hearty peppery slow-cooked beef stew that dates back to the 1400s, are two tasty authentic Italian foods typical of Florence.
Local foods to try in restaurants
When in town… sample these must-eat foods! In Florence, Italy, alongside the traditional soups and meat dishes I mentioned above, you’ll find excellent pasta dishes and an amazing selection of cured meats. Make certain you factor eating time into your sightseeing schedule, and before diving into your pasta or entrée, don’t miss trying the local starters!
Must-eat foods in Florence: cured meats, crostini and fettunta
Preserving meat by aging, salting and curing is a time-honored local tradition, and artisan-crafted salumi are definitely a must-eat food in Florence, Italy. Try finocchiona, supple, slightly spicy and redolent of wild fennel seeds and salame made with wild boar or premium cinta senese pork meat. And make sure you taste the locally-crafted prosciutto: carmine red, lean, intensely flavored, and often seasoned with local herbs and black pepper.
Restaurants and trattorias in Florence generally serve antipasto toscano, i.e. Tuscan appetizer, which comprises the house selection of salumi plus crostini, small toasted bread canapés topped with a creamy, rich chicken liver pâté, or fettunta, a thick slice of toasted Tuscan bread with garlic and olive oil
Florence: the Best Places to eat
Where to eat in Florence? It all depends on the experience you’re looking for: the city is chock-full of all kinds of eateries, from tiny and rustic to contemporary, to snazzy, fancy and formal. But if you’re seeking an authentic dining experience, and want to try genuine local fare, trattorias are the best places to eat in Florence Italy.
Where to eat: the Trattoria
How do you tell a trattoria from a restaurant? Traditional trattorias are generally smaller and more informal, have lower prices, and a more informal ambiance. Service is usually quite casual, with wine sold in quarts rather than by the bottle, and there may not be a printed menu. Needless to say, the best places to eat in Florence will probably be filled with locals, so if you spot a crowded one off-the-beaten-tourist-track walk right in!
Where to eat lush florentine first courses
The best places to eat in Florence, Italy, will certainly serve typical local first courses such as crespelle alla fiorentina, thin savory crêpes filled with ricotta, pecorino cheese spinach, and homemade pasta with game or vegetable sauces. Must-eat foods certainly include pappardelle sulla lepre, sul cinghiale or con i funghi, long thick pasta strips with hare, wild boar or mushrooms, and gnudi: spinach and ricotta cheese dumplings with butter and parmesan cheese.
Best street food in Florence, Italy
Sampling authentic local fare allows you to partake in the centuries-old lhistory and heritage, and identify with the current lifestyle too. But where do locals eat in Florence? As often as not on the street, and in the squares! Yes, Florentine street food is as ancient and venerable as the city itself and boasts a variety of traditional treats.
Where do locals eat in Florence?
At the bakeries, and at the food market, you’re bound to find school kids, employees, and mothers buying schiacciata, the crisp, fragrant local focaccia, salty and sleek with olive oil. Have a slice, and you’ll soon be back for more! Looking for other places where locals eat? Well, you’ll probably have noticed the long, yet patient and good-tempered, queues in front of the trippai, the tripe maker stalls.
Street food staples you should try at the food market
Lampredotto and trippa are Florence’s most renowned and beloved street food staples. But what are they exactly? Innards, cow innards. Specifically, trippa is the lining of a cow’s stomach, while lampredotto is the abomasum, i.e. the cow’s fourth and final stomach. Trippa, actually, is quite common throughout many Italian regions, although the traditional Florentine recipe calls for a specific tomato-based sauce, and can be found in rustic osterias and trattorias. Lampredotto, on the other hand, is uniquely Florentine, legendary, and strictly to be enjoyed “on the go”: inside a sandwich, with its traditional salsa verde (parsley-based sauce).
Epicurean bliss: exploring gourmet Florence
The best way to discover local delicacies and enjoy a glorious firsthand experience of eating in Italy and of the food Florence, Italy is famous for? Explore, smell, sample and indulge! Eating, in Italy, is a serious thing and taking yourself on a self-guided food tour in Florence. Ready for a momentous flavorful experience? Read on for insider tips on where to go to find Florence’s gourmet areas.
Unforgettable self-guided food tours in Florence
- Hit the open-air markets!
All Italian cities host lively, colorful open-air markets on weekday mornings, but when it comes to quality and ambiance none can beat Florence’s charming mercati. A great half-day food tour to Florence’s grocery markets allows you to see, touch and taste the best in town, while enjoying a great lifestyle experience. Pair a visit to the charming Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio, near Santa Croce, with the grander Mercato Centrale, and stop for lunch on the up-and-coming top floor. Or step off the beaten path and walk over to the Mercato de Le Cure, a recently renovated market in a pretty residential area: there’s a great trippaio too!
- Spend time in Oltrarno
Spirited, hip, picturesque. With its windy streets and hidden squares lined by quaint workshops, tiny trattorias and cafés, this charming neighborhood “on the other side of the Arno river” provides a unique setting for a memorable food tour in Florence. Go in the morning, ramble through the antique shops in Via Maggio, poke your nose into the artisan shops, and have lunch in a trattoria in San Niccolò. Or go in the late afternoon for a trendy aperitivo and dinner in the Santo Spirito area.
Whatever you do, remember that eating, in Italy, is a meaningful issue, so make sure you enjoy famous food in Florence!