[This post is Episode 1 of a multi-part series on Florence, Italy.]
Traveling to Italy? Florence, Italy (‘Firenze’ in Italiano) has some amazing hidden gems,… and I’ll help you discover them!
If you are like me, you usually avoid cities that are over-touristed. I was leery of Dubrovnik for this reason. I like to find the essence of a new place by going off the beaten path where you are more likely to find locals welcoming, where the food is more authentic and so are the experiences you will share.
In this series, you’ll discover some of my top picks for exploring the Food, the Landscapes, and the Art & Architecture of Florence, Italy. Follow the TIC blog so you don’t miss an episode.
First up… Food!
Episode 1: Food
Italy is world-famous for its food. Food, like football and Formula 1, in Italy is almost a state religion.
Italians are fanatical about good-quality food and ingredients. Like most of southern Europe, they relish a leisurely lunch and a dinner with friends over wine long into the evening. Socializing over food and drink is a cherished pastime… and it is not taken lightly.
Following are some of my top picks for hidden gems in Florence for all the basic food groups in Italy… Traditional Italian, Pizza, Gelato, and Coffee & Pastries.
Note: We typically travel on the budget end of the spectrum. You will not find Michelin-starred restaurants or even the latest hot spot in the touristic center of the city.
My recommendations are a balance of quality and price. They are typically found outside the heavily touristed areas. We stayed in the San Frediano section of the Oltrarno district to the southwest of the city center south of the Arno river. As such, many of my top picks can be found in this area.
Italian – Ristorante Mamma Gina
Nothing too fancy here, just good, traditional Italian dishes. Our appetizer was fresh octopus and prawns with porcini mushrooms, olive oil, parsley, and lemon. Carrie had the tagliatelle pasta with wild boars sauce. I had a generous Florentine steak, which was a thick T-bone cut perfectly seasoned and still a bit rare in the middle with a side of fried squash blossoms… crispy on the outside, soft on the inside with just a touch of salt! Delish! The wine list was extensive… enough to intimidate me because I know nothing about Italian wines. We ordered a 1/2 litre of the house white. Simple. Very Good.
- Ristorante Mamma Gina
- A: Borgo San Jacopo, 37R
- P: +39 055 239 6009
- W: Mamma Gina Firenze
Pizza – Gustapizza
At peak times, expect a wait. Great pizza, friendly service, very casual at a great price. Order at the counter and either wait for a table or most people take it to go and sit on the steps at the open plaza down the street. It is a simple menu with just 6 types of pizzas to pick from and you’ll often share a table, so be ready to meet some new friends from all over the world!
- A: Via Maggio, 46R
- P: +39 055 285 0680
- W: Gustopizza
Gelato – Sbrino
For the best gelato in Florence, head directly to Sbrino. Get into the queue, pay at the window in the back and hand your ticket to those scooping the gelato. This stuff is the real deal. I got a cone with three scoops… Stracciatella, Salted Caramel, and Coffee.
- A: Via dei Serragli, 32R
- P: +39 055 012 2286
Coffee and Pastries – Alinari Café
In heavily touristed places all over the world, most of the food, including pastries, taste like they came frozen out of a box… not at Alinari! While I can’t say they are as good as what I had in Paris, these are damn good… light, flaky, crispy on the outside and soft, warm and buttery on the inside. The cappuccinos were excellent too. Despite the fact that this place sits across the street from McDonald’s just outside the main Florence train station, I still recommend this place.
- Alinari Café
- A: Largo Fratelli Alinari, 28
- P: +39 055 239 6398
- W: Alinari Café
Food can tell you so much about a place. In it, you can find the essence of its soul. But only if you know where to look!
Thanks for reading! Ciao!
The TIC Community would love to hear from you… leave your comments below
- Have you been to Firenze? Are you planning to go?
- What were some of your favorite ‘off the beaten path’ foodie locations in Florence?
- Follow the Travel Inspire Connect blog so you won’t miss a post!
- Stay tuned for future posts covering Florence’s hidden gems for Landscapes, and Art & Architecture.