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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 27 March, 2024
Expert travel writer: Nicky Swallow

The Florentines are quite traditional in what they eat and justly proud of their local cuisine which is hearty, rustic, and based on simple ingredients such as bread, pulses, meat and poultry, fresh veg and olive oil, all prepared with the minimum of fuss. Typical seasonal ingredients include artichokes and porcini mushrooms, wild boar, rabbit, pork, game and excellent beef.

Wash it down with one of the robust local red wines; Tuscany is Italy’s premier wine-growing region producing from Chianti Classico in the hills between Florence and Siena to the highly-rated (and highly-priced) Super Tuscans from the Bolgheri zone on the coast.

Meals are traditionally divided into antipasti (starters), primi (soup, pasta), secondi (meat, fish) and dolce (dessert).

What to try

Tuscan specialities include crostini (rustic liver paté on toast), bruschetta (toast laced with new-season’s olive oil), ribollita (vegetable, bean and bread soup), pappardelle con la lepre (pasta with hare sauce), arista (roast loin of pork) and the famous bistecca alla fiorentina (T-bone steak). Also see Nicky’s round-ups of traditional Italian foods you must try in Italy.

A local trattoria will usually offer a perfectly drinkable, cheap and cheerful house plonk (red is a better bet). More sophisticated regional wines include the famous Super-Tuscans, Brunello, Chianti Classico and Vino Nobile; ask the wine waiter for advice.

The Dining Scene

Florence’s eating and drinking scene is varied and lively taking in several white-cloth, Michelin-starred establishments serving gourmet food with all the bells and whistles, contemporary ‘osterie’ where young chefs riff on their Mum’s recipes and homely trattorias where they dish up textbook versions of Florentine classics.

For a quick bite, try one of the traditional tripperie (tripe stands) that are the Florentine equivalent of street food stalls; menus feature stewed or cold-dressed tripe and lampredotto (cow’s stomach), often eaten in a bun.

An enoteca (wine bar) is another good bet for a glass and a snack.

Recommendations

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Florence’s Central Market

Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Florence’s Central Market

The first floor of Florence’s traditional produce market, Centrale Mercato, was transformed in 2014 into a dazzling food hall where producers offer everything from freshly-made mozzarella, truffle pasta, barbequed ribs, artisan bread and cheeses to hand-made chocolates. Pair a guided tour (to find ingredients) with a Tuscan cooking class after.

Best for ages 18+

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Florence Gelato Festival

Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Florence Gelato Festival

Gelato (ice cream) was invented in Florence in the 16th-century, where it first appeared during banquets at the Medici court. For five days in late May, this festival celebrates this fact with a festival dedicated to all things gelato (including frozen cocktails).

Best for ages 8+

Duration: 5 days

When: Late May

Frequency: annually

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Gelateria della Passera

Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Gelateria della Passera

This hole-in-the-wall ice cream shop (on pretty Piazza della Passera in the Oltrarno) dishes up some of the best gelato in the city centre, all made in small batches from fresh ingredients and without any kind of artificial flavourings. Think pistachio, pink grapefruit, zabaglione and coffee; flavours move with the seasons.

Best for ages 4+

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Le Volpi e l’Uva

Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Le Volpi e l’Uva

This small wine bar specialises in wines from small, independent producers and always has something interesting on offer. Order one of the bubbling, melted cheese-topped crostini to soak it up; the one with truffle-infused sausage is particularly good.

Best for ages 18+

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MaMa Florence Cooking School

Florence, Tuscany, Italy

MaMa Florence Cooking School

For visitors who want to learn to make as well as eat the local specialities, this cooking school is a good place to start. Hands-on classes taught by pro chefs include making pasta, pizza, gelato, Tuscan meat and vegetarian. You can opt to tour the Central Market first too.

Adult price: £100

Best for ages 13+

Duration: 3-4 hours

When: Daily

Frequency: daily

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Pasticceria Dolci e Dolcezze

Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Pasticceria Dolci e Dolcezze

This tiny, off-piste café and pasticceria with its old-fashioned atmosphere and green boiserie makes some of the best cakes and pastries in the city. It’s famous for its divine flourless chocolate cake, but also for fruit tarts, puff pastry sfoglie, buttery croissant and excellent coffee.

Best for ages 18+

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Procacci

Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Procacci

A historic, atmospheric old café famous for its tiny, delicate truffle sandwiches, best sampled with a glass of the house (Antinori) fizz. You can also buy fresh truffles here when in season.

Best for ages 18+

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Taste Florence Festival

Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Taste Florence Festival

Committed foodies should look out for this annual food and drink fair held in late March that attracts producers, buyers – and droves of foodie punters – from all over Italy and beyond. Held in Fortezza da Basso.

Best for ages 18+

Duration: One weekend

When: Late March

Frequency: annually

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Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around
Duration: -

Getting there & doing it

As a rule of thumb (although there are some notable exceptions), steer clear of the most touristy areas when you are searching for somewhere to eat in Florence. There are few good restaurants near the Duomo, for example, while neighbourhoods such as Santa Croce, the Sant’Ambrogio market area and San Niccolò are far more interesting gastronomically speaking, and this is where the Florentines go to eat.

The Oltrarno neighbourhood, south of the river, has a particularly buzzy and eclectic dining and drinking scene.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Pizza and Gelato Cooking Class at a Tuscan Farmhouse from Florence

Florence

Pizza and Gelato Cooking Class at a Tuscan Farmhouse from Florence
Under the guidance of a professional Italian chef, you'll be taken on a cultural journey learning the skills and inside tricks of making the best mouth watering pizza and gelato right in the country where they were born. During this 5-hour activity set on a beautiful Tuscan estate offering stunning views over the surrounding hills, you'll roll-up your sleeves and get hands-on experience. Get insider tips and learn special techniques and enjoy a 3-course meal accompanied by wine and beer. Pickup from a centrally-located meeting point is included. Choose from one of 2 departure times when you book.

Price: €120

Min age: 8

Rating 4.97 / 5 [4496 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Cooking Class and Lunch at a Tuscan Farmhouse with Local Market Tour from Florence

Florence

Cooking Class and Lunch at a Tuscan Farmhouse with Local Market Tour from Florence
Indulge your love of Italian food in Tuscany, and enjoy a full-day tour that combines a market visit with a cooking class and 4-course meal with wine! After scouting out quality local ingredients at a historical Florence food market, travel to a rustic farmhouse in Tuscany, surrounded by exquisite countryside. Then, prepare your feast of pasta, bruschetta and Tuscan roast pork, plus beloved desserts such as tiramisu, before savoring the creations with Tuscan wine. Up to four glasses of wine are included throughout the day as well as a cooking diploma and the recipes.

Price: €150

Min age: 8

Rating 4.94 / 5 [3726 ratings]

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Pastamania - Pasta making class

Florence

Pastamania - Pasta making class
Learn how to make homemade pasta easily and successfully. If you have flour and water you can make pasta and we will teach the secrets. We will teach you to make RAVIOLI, TAGLIATELLE in different shape in a place in the center of Florence. We will cook all the pasta we have prepared with 3 different sauces and we will then taste all together the pasta. We will give you organic tuscan wine produced with natural methods and bottled in our cellar called "Dalle Nostre Mani". Every participant will receive english instructions for making pasta at home, easily and successfully, by email at the end of the experience.

Price: €65

Min age: 6

Rating 4.92 / 5 [1822 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Florence Sunset Walking Tour with Wine & Food Tasting

Florence

Florence Sunset Walking Tour with Wine & Food Tasting
Join us on an exclusive food and wine tour to uncover Florence's rich culinary heritage. Discover historic wine windows, sample Tuscany's finest wines, indulge in a traditional zero-waste soup and fresh pasta cooked by a local chef. As you explore the city with your knowledgeable guide, you'll get to taste other local delicacies and learn about the history and culture behind each dish. The highlight of the tour is a visit to a centuries-old wine cellar where you'll have the opportunity to sip on innovative delicious Super Tuscan wines, Our comprehensive tour offers an unforgettable experience of Tuscany's authentic flavors and rich culinary culture. Whether you're a seasoned foodie or a curious traveler, this tour is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the city's vibrant nightlife and explore its charming streets while savoring its delicious flavors. Don't miss out on this unique opportunity to discover Florence's hidden culinary gems.

Price: €124

Min age: 4

Rating 4.96 / 5 [1263 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Florence Cooking Class: Learn How to Make Gelato and Pizza

Florence

Florence Cooking Class: Learn How to Make Gelato and Pizza
Combine your love of pizza and gelato (an Italian version of ice cream) with a unique cooking class in beautiful Florence. Learn how to cook an authentic Italian pizza with a professional chef who will guide and teach you along the way and discover how to make gelato with his show cooking. Sample your own italian pizza and taste the flavors of the Gelato made in Italy. Your new cooking skills will be the best souvenir you take home from your trip to Italy. Numbers are limited to 20 people on this small-group tour, ensuring you'll receive personalized attention from your knowledgeable guide.

Price: €69

Min age: 0

Rating 4.76 / 5 [1148 ratings]

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Destination guides

2

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Florence

Tuscany, Italy

Florence

A heady mix of incomparable Renaissance art, gorgeous palazzos, Tuscan cuisine and home-grown haute couture.

Tuscany

Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany

The astonishingly beautiful region of Tuscany has it all: art cities and ancient hill towns, high mountains and long sandy beaches, alongside luxurious hotels and some of Italy’s best food and wine.