When you think of Florence, you mind might immediately jump to its reputation as a glorious art city, with masterpieces by Michelangelo, stunning museums and iconic architecture. But, the Tuscan city is also a perfect location for a food lover to feast on local delicacies in unique venues. We’ve rounded up some of the best places to visit and Tuscan treats to get your chops around so you can really feast like a Florentine.
Where better to start with Florentine cuisine than the renowned Florentine steak? Known in Italian as “bistecca alla Fiorentina”, the steak is a large t-bone cut, and is fire grilled, but kept pink on the inside. Seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon, and cooked over roasted chestnuts to get a unique smoky flavour, the steak is normally sold by the kilo, and is often brought to your table uncooked so that you can see what you’re in for!
Get streetwise at All’Antico VinaioFlorence may have you feeling fancy, but if you want a change from formal sit down meals, why not try a bit of street food? All’Antico Vinaio is one of the best street food purveyors in Italy, having been dubbed as the “home to the world’s best sandwiches” by Saveur magazine. Whether you agree with them, or think you’re nonna’s sandwiches are a lot tastier, it’s certainly a popular spot– we walked passed at 8:00pm and there was still a lengthy queue down the street!
Due to being located in the heart of Florence (and with two other stores All’Antico Vinaio Atto II and All’Antico Vinaio Atto III, which allow you to taste their wares in a “sit down” setting), All’Antico Vinaio focuses on providing traditional Tuscan cuisine, so you can fill your focaccia with local treats, from mouth-watering mortadella to perfect prosciutto or porchetta (don’t panic vegetarians, there are meat free options for you too!) And, of course, in true Italian fashion, the restaurants are a family affair, having been run by the Mazzanti family since 1991! Who said you have to be in the countryside to get a taste of true Italian family values?
All’Antico Vinaio is located at Via Dei Neri 65 R, Florence
Test your stomach with a “lampredotto” sandwichHave you got a stomach strong enough to try a lampredotto sandwich? Although its name derives from the lamprey eels that once were commonly found in the River Arno, this is only due to its visual similarity to the slippery fish. It is in fact made from the fourth and final stomach of a cow (along with accompaniments such as tomato, onion, parsley and the typically Tuscan schiacciata bread!) These sandwiches can be found in traditional trippaio (food stands) around the city, such as l Trippaio di San Frediano in the Oltrarno district.
This is the perfect place to visit if you’re with vegetarian friends, as they can busy themselves with the district’s artisan shops (mostly around Palazzo Pitti) whilst you get stuck into your meaty treat. You can also try out Da Nerbone, a small stall that has resided on the bottom floor of the Mercato Centrale since the 1870s, and which many claim sells the best lampredotto sandwich in Florence.
I Trippaio di San Frediano is located at Piazza dei Nerli, 50124, Firenze, Italy
Da Nerbone is located at Mercato Centrale, 50123, Firenze, Italy
Il Mercato Centrale FirenzeIn the heart of the San Lorenzo neighbourhood lies the historic Mercato Centrale, Florence’s covered food market that has been held in its cast iron building since 1874. The traditional fruit and veg vendors still sell their wares on the ground floor, which is a perfect place to grab picnic supplies if you’re heading out for a day in the surrounding Florentine countryside. Alternatively, why not head upstairs to the first floor, to enjoy the gastro-adventure of the market’s very own street food extravaganza. The first floor was rejuvenated by Umberto Montano in collaboration with Claudio Cardini, who has opened a similar street food market experience in Rome.
The Florentine market celebrates typical Tuscan cuisine, so it’s a great place for foodies to get an overview of all the region has to offer. Stalls sell a range of treats including, truffles, freshly baked breads, pasta fresca and the classic lampredotto sandwich - there’s even an enoteca selling Tuscany’s prized Chianti Classico.
Aside from the meaty madness, there is also the stall of Veg & Veg (Vegetarian and Vegan) which sells a variety of smoothies, veggie burgers and freshly squeezed juices to appease any animal lovers.