If you’re planning a trip to Florence, one of Italy’s most captivating cities, here is a guide to some of the best food spots. Whether you’re looking for traditional Italian food, a healthy pick-me-up or the best gelato, I have a place for you.
Let me first start by saying that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Being from the States, I am very accustomed to massive breakfasts with unlimited refills of coffee. In Europe, and more specifically in Italy, Italian breakfasts are much different than I am used to. Typically you grab a caffe and a cornetto and go on your way. If this is your idea of a perfect breakfast, then you’re in luck. Just about every bar or cafe on every corner will have this to offer every morning. Some of my favorite fornos (bakeries in Italian) to stop by in the early morning are S.forno and Vecchio Forno. They both offer a wide variety of fresh baked goods.
Personally, I can’t survive off of just a coffee and croissant. I like a big, hearty breakfast. If you are like me and you’re missing your avocado toast, eggs benedict or buttermilk pancakes, head to my favorite spot in Florence: Melaleuca. This is a new Aussie breakfast/brunch spot on the Arno river. It’s seriously the best, and you must give it a try. Be sure to get there early on the weekends because it’s very popular and the tables fill up fast.
There is no lack of sandwich and panini spots lining the streets of Florence, but the best without a doubt is Sandwichic. It used to be a tiny button factory, but has since been turned into a sandwich shop, run by the two kindest guys in Florence. They will explain every sandwich they make and help choose the perfect combo for you. Go for the most popular item, which is called the Sbriciolona. A bonus for students studying abroad is that Sandwichic has a student menu where select sandwiches only cost four euro and come with a free water, wine or espresso!
In Florence, it can be hard to find good salads, juices and smoothies. But after some searching, I found Tamarindo. This juicery presses everything in the store and makes everything from acai bowls and salads to juices and soups. I always go here when I get sick, and I get one of their wellness shots to help me feel better. They also make homemade almond and peanut butter and always have fresh fruit you may not be able to find in a market. They offer a 10 percent discount to students studying in Florence, so make sure to get your name in the system.
I enjoy going to Mercato Centrale. For my fellow Clevelanders, it’s like a West Side Market on steroids. On the ground level, vendors are offering fresh fruit, meat, vegetables, pasta and local delicacies. If you go upstairs, there’s a big open space of multiple different food options from pasta, to dumplings, soup, pizza and hamburgers. It’s a good choice when you’re with a group of people that all want to eat different things. They also have different events held there throughout the months, from pop-up barbershops to live music. It is a fun environment to be in.
Everyone knows that Spain is the country of tapas, but Italy is the country of aperitivo. It is a very popular choice for dinner in Italy if you don’t want something heavy. How this works is you order a drink at the bar for a set price, usually between €10-12, then you have an unlimited buffet. A favorite among myself and my roommates is Oibo. It is €12 for a cocktail, and they have the best spread of food.
If you’re searching for a cheap but good pizza place, head across the river to Gustas. You may have to wait, but it’s worth it! Their pizzas range from €5 to €8. I’m not sure you will be able to find any other place that cheap and that delicious. One last hidden gem is Trattoria Pizzeria Dante, also across the river. It’s a bit of a hike, but worth it for its unlimited free wine for students. Their pasta dishes and pizzas are also very good and cheap! As long as there’s food on the table, they will continue to bring you wine.
To top off your foodie tour of Florence, of course you need to end with gelato at Sbrino. Located in the Santo Spirito area, it’s a less touristy area, and the smell of the homemade waffle cones will pull you in from the street. The gelato flavors are unique and taste so yummy, so worth every cent!