Florence Food Tour, Florence

Florence Food Tour (Self Guided), Florence

Food is one of the great Florentine passions, and the great thing about having a delicious authentic Tuscan meal, a snack, delicatessen, or a quality gelato here – besides the abundant variety – is not having to spend a lot of money for it.

In general, the “osterias” and the eateries nestled in Sant’Ambrogio Market will offer cheaper and more casual food with an emphasis on home cooking, but there's no shortage of delicious options at the Central Market, either – and that includes vegetarian options, as well as bars serving a variety of beverages. For more traditional Tuscan fare (and enormous steaks!), you must try the Osteria de Benci and/or the Osteria Il Gatto e la Volpe.

There will probably be times when you do not want a large meal, and Florence offers a range of places for more casual eating – among these, the Duje Pizzeria, the Osteria All’antico Vinaio (for mouthwatering sandwiches), and the “enotecas” or “vinerias”, which offer a selection of wines to try, too. If that’s still not enough, Rivoire’s pastries and prize-winning chocolates are irresistible, Vivoli’s artisanal gelato is out of this world, while Caffe Gilli’s offers the best hot chocolate and iced lattes with great seating by Piazza della Repubblica.

Take this self-guided walking tour to explore some of the most notorious culinary treats in Florence – and bring an appetite!

Food is one of the great Florentine passions, and the great thing about having a delicious authentic Tuscan meal, a snack, delicatessen, or a quality gelato here – besides the abundant variety – is not having to spend a lot of money for it.
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Florence Food Tour Map

Guide Name: Florence Food Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Florence (See other walking tours in Florence)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Author: greghasleft
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Mercato Centrale (Central Market)
  • Enoteca Alessi
  • Caffe Gilli
  • Rivoire
  • All'Antico Vinaio
  • Ditta Artigianale
  • Osteria del Gatto e la Volpe
  • Vivoli
  • Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio (Sant'Ambrogio Market)
Mercato Centrale (Central Market)

1) Mercato Centrale (Central Market) (must see)

Florence's 19th-century Central Market, dating back to the 19th century, is divided into two distinct areas. The covered section is dedicated to all things food, while the outdoor area extends onto the surrounding streets, offering a variety of leather goods, clothing, and affordable souvenirs, including leather coats, jackets, and purses at great prices.

For those seeking Tuscan cuisine, the indoor area is the place to be. On the ground floor, you'll find a vibrant assortment of butchers, fishmongers, fruits, vegetables, and specialty shops. These specialty shops offer an array of local products such as olive oils, truffle honey, cured meats, cheeses, and sauces. Many of them even provide free samples, allowing visitors to taste before purchasing.

Upstairs, the food court awaits, featuring a host of delicious local culinary delights. Here, you not only have the opportunity to savor delicious food but also to observe the skilled artisans in action through glass windows. Watch as bread is freshly baked, bufala cheese is carefully crafted, and artisanal gelato is made from scratch. To fully enjoy your dining experience, it is recommended to visit outside of peak dining hours when the crowds are less overwhelming.

Some of the highlights include:
~ Il Pane e la Pasticceria: Witness the expertise of French baker and Bakery World Cup champion David Bedu as he creates a variety of bread, from baguettes to traditional loaves, and exquisite French pastries like choux and éclairs.
~ Martino Bellincampi's Shop: Indulge in buffalo mozzarella served in a classic Roman-style salad or enjoy the ultimate guilty pleasure of a Neapolitan "mozzarella in carrozza," a fried mozzarella sandwich.
~ ARÀ: Delight in Sicilian delicacies such as arancini (deep-fried rice balls with various fillings), cannoli, cassatini, and refreshing granita.
~ Il Tartufo: Experience the excellence of seasonal black & white truffles in dishes such as pasta, salads, sandwiches, spreads... even beer.
~ La Pizzeria: Savor Marco Fierro's perfectly crispy, fresh, wood oven-baked pizzas made with the finest Italian ingredients.
~ Pasta Fresca: Sample both classic and creative pasta dishes while attending cooking shows.
~ Il Vegeteriano e il Vegano: A haven for vegetarians and vegans, offering a wide selection of delectable options.

While the outdoor market closes in the afternoon, the food court stays open until midnight, offering an ideal spot for late-night cravings.
Enoteca Alessi

2) Enoteca Alessi

Alessi is more than just an ordinary 'enoteca', as it transcends the typical definition of a shop selling regional wines. Stepping into this expansive and luminous third-generation establishment, you'll be greeted by colorful aisles filled with enticingly packaged biscotti, caramelle, and cioccolatini. As you navigate through, you'll eventually find yourself at the back where a vast selection of wines is displayed, accompanied by an impressive array of spirits, liquors, beers, olive oils, jams, aged balsamic vinegars, and much more.

Venturing downstairs into the inviting wine cellar, you'll discover a treasure trove of over 2,500 labels to choose from. Here, you can browse through an enticing assortment while savoring the delightful aromas of Tuscan cold cuts and traditional cheeses. The wine selection is exceptional, catering to various budgets, spanning from €10 to several thousand euros. Don't fret, as the knowledgeable staff members are eager to engage in friendly conversations and provide expert recommendations.

For those in search of a quality spot for a snack or a light lunch, accompanied by an extensive list of Tuscan and Italian wines, Alessi is the perfect destination. Surprisingly, despite its proximity to the bustling Duomo and the influx of tourists, the atmosphere remains remarkably serene and relaxed.

The most famous Tuscan reds – notably Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Chianti – are made from the Sangiovese grape and are produced inland, on the hills of Tuscany. They are of exceptional quality, as wineries combine the finest traditional and modern techniques. Here, not only can you sample these outstanding wines, but you can also gain a wealth of knowledge about their unique characteristics. All of this can be enjoyed at a fair price.
Caffe Gilli

3) Caffe Gilli

Established in 1733, this most appealing of Piazza della Repubblica's expensive caffés moved to its present site in 1910. With its wood, marble, frescoed ceiling, and glass glinting in the light of Murano chandeliers, the lavish Belle Epoque interior is a sight in itself (there are rumors of an imminent modernization); however, most patrons opt to relax on the spacious outdoor terrace, perfectly positioned for observing passersby.

The beloved cocktail known as Negroni, made with gin, vermouth, bitter Campari, and a slice of orange, owes its name to a local count who introduced and popularized it in this very place. On a chilly afternoon, it is also highly recommended to indulge in the renowned hot chocolate: luxuriously thick, almost resembling liquid pudding, topped with whipped cream, and available in various flavors such as almond, orange, coffee, gianduia, and cocoa. Gilli also serves a delightful assortment of cakes, fruit tartlets, and 'millefoglie', which consists of layers of puff pastry filled with decadent vanilla or chocolate Chantilly cream.

Immerse yourself in the local culture by joining the locals who stand at the bar and enjoy an "aperitivo" drink accompanied by complimentary nibbles. Standing at the bar is also more cost-effective than sitting down, where prices tend to be higher.

4) Rivoire

For over a century, this elegant, family-run caffè smack dab in the center of Florence has been the meeting point for morning ristretto and pastry, winter afternoon hot chocolate (topped with freshly whipped cream), or a refreshing Aperol spritz and other "aperitivi".

Prepare to be captivated by the irresistible pastries and award-winning chocolates crafted right on the premises. Their flavors are simply irresistible. If you're in search of a souvenir for your family, you'll be delighted to know that these treats are also available in boxed packages; apparently, a few of the chocolate boxes are modeled after Tiffany & Co., and some even contain real silver spoons!

Whether you choose to indulge indoors or enjoy your meal outside, make sure to pause and absorb the captivating ambiance of Signoria Square. While there may be more affordable cafés available, it would be a challenge to find a location that rivals this one in terms of its setting and cultural significance. After all, you'll be facing one of Florence's most iconic landmarks—the Uffizi Gallery—surrounded by artists, politicians, journalists, and free-spirited individuals who gather here to marvel at the wonders of history and human grandeur.

Be sure to keep an eye out for special treats like "frittelle di riso" (sweet rice fritters) or the traditional "schiacciata fiorentina," a sweet bread enjoyed during Carnival time in Tuscany. If you prefer to avoid paying a sit-down service fee, savor these treats alongside your coffee while standing at the bar. Not only will you save on costs, but you'll also receive quicker service.
All'Antico Vinaio

5) All'Antico Vinaio

Boasting locations on both sides of the street – two dedicated to take-out and one offering sit-down service – this place has earned an international reputation. For a mere €5, you can savor an exceptional sandwich crafted with fresh focaccia bread, mouthwatering cheeses, and expertly carved meats like porchetta, salami, and prosciutto, prepared right before your eyes. These sandwiches are colossal, generously loaded with an array of toppings such as truffle cream, eggplant, zucchini, and an abundance of other options (feel free to customize your own creation). If you crave some heat, don't hesitate to try the "Inferno" – a spicy delight. While vegetarian options may not be listed on the menu, the staff will happily accommodate your preferences on the spot.

Simply choose the shorter queue, purchase your sandwich, and find a picturesque spot by the Arno River or in Signoria Square ("Piazza della Signoria") to indulge in one of the city's finest culinary experiences.

For those seeking a more sit-down dining experience, the same owners provide limited seating at the back. Although sandwiches are not available in this area, you can relish a delightful assortment of meats, cheeses, and vegetables served on a tray accompanied by bread. Enhance your meal with authentic local pasta or indulge in an amazing "secondo" (second course) for a truly satisfying dining experience.
Ditta Artigianale

6) Ditta Artigianale

Featuring an industrial-inspired decor and a laid-back, welcoming atmosphere, this innovative coffee roastery and gin bar is an ideal spot to spend time, particularly in the morning. Created by Francesco Sanapo, a three-time Italian barista champion, it has gained fame for its first-class coffee and remarkable gin cocktails. If you want to mingle with the younger crowd of Florentines over a flat white, cold brew tonic, or cappuccino made with almond, soy, or coconut milk, this is the place to be.

For those seeking a more substantial morning meal, the menu offers delightful options such as pancakes with peanut butter and maple syrup, creamy scrambled eggs, and the classic Croque Madame—a ham and cheese sandwich crowned with a perfectly cooked egg. As the day progresses, they also serve a range of warm and cold lunch snacks. However, be aware that due to its popularity, the place tends to get crowded later in the day, and certain dishes on the menu may sell out early.
Osteria del Gatto e la Volpe

7) Osteria del Gatto e la Volpe

If you're seeking an authentic Tuscan dining experience that combines a casual and intimate atmosphere with very reasonable prices, this hidden gem – a short stroll away from the Bargello or Santa Croce – is the place for you.

Firstly, the staff here is incredibly friendly and accommodating, and are happy to guide you through the menu, providing explanations and offering excellent recommendations. The menu itself is always diverse and enticing, featuring a range of options such as pasta, gnocchi, wood-fired pizzas, and the renowned Florentine steak. A standout highlight is their homemade syrupy balsamic vinegar, which is a true gem and one of the finest you'll ever taste. Don't miss the opportunity to pair it with their olive oil and freshly baked bread, which are remarkable in their own right. Be sure to save room for the delectable homemade desserts, too, as they ARE worth every calorie.

To top it off, the Tuscan wine is eminently drinkable, and the staff will provide you with excellent advice on which selection complements your meal best. You may even receive complimentary shots of limoncello or grappa at the conclusion of your meal, adding an extra touch of warmth and generosity to your visit.

8) Vivoli

When it comes to trying gelato, there's no better place than Florence, where this delightful treat was first created. One particular gelateria stands out as the oldest in the city, having opened its doors in 1929. Offering a wide selection of over twenty flavors, their gelato is available in small servings starting at €2.5 and can go up to €6, depending on your appetite. What sets them apart is their commitment to crafting artisanal gelato from scratch in small batches every morning. The result is a smooth, dense, and intensely flavorful concoction that clearly showcases the use of fresh fruits, without any additives or artificial preservatives. Following tradition, it is served exclusively in a cup, never in a cone. Furthermore, their 'affogato' – a combination of hot espresso poured over vanilla gelato in a pre-chilled cup – is simply perfection in a drinkable form.

As you step inside the cozy gelateria, you'll find small tables and chairs at the back, providing a space to sit and savor the experience. If you happen to be nearby in the morning, don't miss out on their superb cappuccino, delectable pastries, and out-of-the-oven homemade cakes. And make sure to indulge in the affogato as well, even if you're not a fan of espresso – it's a dessert you're bound to love.
Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio (Sant'Ambrogio Market)

9) Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio (Sant'Ambrogio Market)

Since 1873, this market has been a beloved spot among Florentines due to its intimate scale and outstanding selection of fresh produce. In the bustling outdoor section, you'll be captivated by beautifully arranged pyramids of seasonal fruits and vegetables, and the vendors are equally friendly whether you're purchasing a single apple or a dozen. Amidst this setting, you'll also discover an array of ever-changing items, ranging from clothing, shoes, and household goods to flowers and beads. While it may not be a tourist hotspot, it's a fantastic place to find items you may need or even something you forgot to buy, like floppy sunhats.

As you step into the covered interior, you'll be greeted by a striking mosaic Florentine lily adorning the floor. Here, an enticing sprawl of stalls awaits, offering an assortment of meats, including various cuts and aged cheeses, prosciuttos, salamis, breads, honey, fresh and dried pastas, grains, beans, eggs, olives, spices, sauces, oils, fresh and salted fish, milk, yogurt, and coffee. In short, a treasure trove for food enthusiasts and those seeking high-quality ingredients.

Within the market, you'll also find the famous Trattoria da Rocco, perfect for a first introduction to grandma's Tuscan kitchen. It was – and still is – a "tavola calda", meaning that the food is prepared early and served in heaping portions all during lunch, six days a week (Mon-Sat: 10am–2:45pm). Definitely a bargain for the price, and very fast! Given the hearty serving sizes, it might be worth considering sharing to savor a diverse range of flavors.

Another not-to-be-missed spot is I' Trippaio di Sant'Ambrogio (Mon-Sat: 7am–2pm), where you can indulge in authentic Florentine 'lampredotto' cooked in various delectable ways. Convenient, no-frills, affordable. Derived from the fatty cow's stomach, the taste is truly unique, and the friendly staff will gladly add extra spices upon request. Feel free to grab a cup and pour yourself some red wine from the massive bottle on the counter (note that there is a fee for the glasses you drink).

If you're seeking an opportunity to mingle with locals, sample a variety of treats for free, and immerse yourself in an authentic Tuscan culinary experience, Mercato Sant'Ambrogio is your best bet.

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