For the intrepid travelers among us, you might have heard of Florence’s famous signature sandwich, the Lampredotto, or illustrious t-bone steak la fiorentina but the city has so many more food-related icons hidden in its streets and palazzos.
Here’s a few suggestions for unique food experiences in Florence if you’re curious
Tomato juice and truffle panino at Procacci
Procacci is a Florentine institution. Located along the sophisticated Via de' Tornabuoni, this luxury deli has been open since 1885. While everything in the store looks delicious, the locals keep coming back for the truffle panino, a slider-sized soft white bun slathered in a secret truffle butter. Order one with a glass of tomato juice for the true Florentine experience and spend no more than €5!
Address: Via de' Tornabuoni, 64R
Street Food Hunt for Lampredotto at Il Porcellino
This unassuming food stand/kiosk right in front of some of Florence’s famous leather stalls is one of the city’s best spots for lampredotto. To make this Florentine delicacy, the cow’s stomach is slowly braised in a fragrant broth, then sliced and stuffed in a bun along with a spicy and vibrant salsa verde.
After devouring a sandwich, rub the bronze porcellino’s (wild boar’s) snout for good luck.
Address: Piazza del Mercato Nuovo
Tour a cookie museum (?!) at cantuccini legend Biscottificio Antonio Mattei
Florence’s has plenty of great almond biscotti ‘cantucci’ makers and forni churning out the almond cookie destined for vin santo, but one of the oldest artisanal bakers actually hails from nearby Prato, the home of the cantuccio. To celebrate the family’s 160th anniversary, the Florentine store added a small museum, essentially a cookie museum (!) where you can explore the history of this iconic Tuscan cookie and the family that makes it. Food tidbit: The italian word for cookie is biscotti, and the almond cookie sticks are a type of biscotto called cantuccini or cantucci- which mean “little corners.”
Address: Via Porta Rossa 76R
Fresh pasta at Mercato Centrale’s Pasta Fresca
On the first level of Mercato Centrale is a little pasta factory which also sells freshly made plates to-go, street food style. Here you can taste some tasty fresh pasta made from exclusively Italian ingredients right in front of you. We’re talking about everything from classics like ricotta and lemon ravioli, pici with cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) to tortelli (big stuffed ravioli) to bronze-die cut pastas and more gourmand treats like basil-flavored pasta. You can also watch (and pick up some tips) as the pasta is being made in the shop’s laboratory! Across the way is Barone Alimentari where you can shop for the best cheese, specialty salts, balsamic vinegars, boutique olive oils and meats in the market- they also conduct tastings before buying.
Address: Piazza del Mercato Centrale
The best panini in the world at Semel
Get to Semel before noon and get some impromptu and uninvited, but always hilarious, life advice or Italian battute (jokes) from Marco. He’s quite a character and his banter is almost as good as his panini, which are claimed to be the best in the world- just ask Marco for the story. The panino offerings rotate pretty frequently, thus a rather impossible-to-decide choice of six gourmet combos.
Explore the Sant’Ambrogio market afterwards for more tasty snacks and seasonal goods!
Address: Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti, 44
A hands-on cooking lesson in the home of a local
Sure when you’re in Florence, there is plenty to eat and drink, but why not pick up a few tips, tricks and recipes to recreate all those great dishes from your holidays? We have two cooking lessons in Florence, a traditional Tuscan cooking class with Florentine culinary pros and a specialized homemade pasta and gnocchi making class. Both take place in either the home of the instructor or a culinary studio. If booked in the morning, it will include an informative shop at a local market. The lesson will give you plenty of hands on experience making a number of different classic Italian savory and sweet dishes.
Dinner and a show at Teatro del Sale
Florentine chef Fabio Picchi serves up classic local fare at this eccentric, good-value, members-only club (membership €7) inside an old theatre. Grab a chair, serve yourself drinks and antipasti and wait for Fabio to ring the proverbial dinner bell. After pasta and a main, dessert and coffee is served buffet-style before the curtains open to a live performance of drama, music or comedy arranged by his wife, artistic director and comic actress Maria Cassi.
Address: Via dei Macci, 111 r
A Progressive Dining Crawl through Florence’s Center and the Oltrarno
Why settle for one great eatery when you can join our Progressive Dining Tour and dine around four between the historical center and the hip Oltrarno? Our small-group dining tours don’t stick out like big tourist groups and feast at Florence’s best dinner spots. It’s like a pub crawl, but with great eats, starting with a wine and charcuterie aperitivo and progressing to artisan pasta and some spectacular Bistecca Fiorentina, before finishing with two scoops of gelato to fill the cracks!
Find out more: https://curiousappetitetravel.com/dinner-crawl-in-florence
Apertivo at a 15th century palace owned by the Antinori wine dynasty
Basically, aperitivo at a wine palace- yes please! Located on the ground floor of the 15th century Palazzo Antinori, there is a little museum in the courtyard which details the Antinori estates and charts its historic impact on the Tuscan wine trade. Inside also houses a cantina with a dizzying array of wines, including all the family’s labels, along with seasonal specialties and plenty of good Tuscan cheese and salumi (cold cuts). On your way in or out of the palazzo, be sure to check out the buchette di vino, a tiny hole with wooden doors on one of the exterior walls. From this little door in the olden days, the palazzo’s staff would discreetly sell wine directly to patrons on the street or leave out food or a jug of wine for the needy.
Address: Piazza degli Antinori, 3
The best tortellini in the world at Massimo Bottura's Gucci Osteria
Well, best in the world is subjective but considering Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana in Modena has won the title “best restaurant in the world” on 2 occasions- we feel safe to make such a claim. If you can’t get a table at his 3-star Osteria in Modena, you can still get a taste of his cooking at the extremely stylish, violently green Gucci Osteria in Florence’s Piazza della Signoria. Don’t expect his experimental masterpieces, but instead well-made and stylishly plated food like tortellini in panna, Taka’s pork belly buns, elaborate caesar salads, seasonally-themed risotti and more. Dining in a fashion museum under a menu designed by the most influential chefs in Italy- how could this be any more tragically hip?
Address: Piazza della Signoria, 10
Dinner at a silver factory and workshop near the Ponte Vecchio
By day, Pampaloni makes incredible silver creations just a short walk from the Ponte Vecchio in its more than 100-year-old workshop. By night, the works’ canteen is transformed into a restaurant with goblets, artisan benches and gloved servers dishing up a menu of accolade-worthy regional Italian treats. The atmosphere is eccentric to say the least.
Address: Via del Gelsomino, 99
Ancient liquor tastings at Santa Maria Novella Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica
Stop for a quick tipple and snack at the Santa Maria Novella Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica. This Florentine institution has being making perfumes, unguents and other products since the 1200s, making it one of the oldest pharmacies in the world. The liquors are made from recipes gleamed from Dominican friars and are said to have medicinal benefits. The rhubarb elixir pairs particularly well with the rose cookies and Italian shortbread also made in house.
While you’re there, check out the distillery’s small museum.
Address: Via della Scala, 16
Looking for more travel in Italy advice? Be sure to check out our food blog and check out our food tours in Florence for when you need a break from the crowded museums! Our tours are small and expert-led, come eat with us!