So I will admit that I have not been to Florence since 2004 (so sad), but I did live there for about six months and given that it is a tiny little town, I got to know it incredibly well. It is easily my favorite place in the world because of its charm, history, beauty… and the food of course! Florence is a city that is made to be explored by foot therefore I was able to stumble upon so many wonderful gems during my time in the city, and I still think of some of my best dining experiences as the ones that I lived through in Florence.
A photo I took of the Duomo and Florence from the top of Giotto's Tower
Acqua Al 2: Well, I don’t have to say too much given that we have been blessed with a DC version of this wonderful restaurant in Florence, but it is still worth a visit when you are in Italy to see the authenticity and its hometown roots. I recommend making a reservation as this place fills up fast. Make sure to order the pasta sampler and the blueberry steak. The rigatoni in eggplant sauce is my favorite and the tiramisu is a must! Located on Via della Vigna Vecchia.
The famous pasta sampler at Acqua Al 2
Mamma Gina: Mamma Gina’s is your first right after crossing the Ponte Vecchio from the downtown part of Florence. This was my favorite restaurant in all of Florence. It is absolutely phenomenal. The service is fantastic and the waiters go out of their way to make you feel at home. Try to the rigatoni with four cheese sauce or the spinach gnocchi as your first course. YOU MUST get the eggplant parmesan for the main course; it is the absolute best eggplant in the entire world. I still dream of it today. Also Mamma Gina’s had my favorite tiramisu in all of Florence as they slop it on your plate with a spoon. Don’t be fooled- it may look messy, but it’s nothing short of spectacular. Located on Borgo San Jacopo.
Mamma Gina's interior is an inviting space
Baldovino Trattoria: Baldovino is located in the heart of Santa Croce which is a wonderful area to walk through as the Basilica of Santa Croce is gorgeous and right in the center of the square. This restaurant has a wonderful atmosphere that is quaint, romantic, and adorable. The food is wonderful including the focaccia to share for the table, delicious pastas and pizzas, and an amazing chocolate cake for dessert. Located in Piazza Santa Croce.
Ciro & Sons: This was one of our favorite spots that we frequented often as it was right by the school I was attending when living in Florence. The pizzas and pastas here are wonderful, but the lasagna is magnificent in a light meat sauce and cooked to perfection. I also was a huge fan of the gnocchi and Ciro & Sons is a great choice for seafood as they have an amazing selection. The restaurant itself is beautiful and makes for a wonderful dinner… or a great lunch as you are strolling through the leather market or touring the Medici Chapel. Located on Via del Giglio.
Ciro & Sons on Via del Giglio with the Medici Chapel in the background
Trattoria Zaza: This is a wonderful spot that is known to feed a lot of famous people when they come to Florence. There is an amazing Italian cheese platter and Zaza makes a fabulous pappa al pomodoro here (this is a famous tuscan soup made with stale table bread, tomatoes, garlic, oil etc.) My favorite dish here was the rigatoni alla sorrentina. Simple and understated but absolutely delicious in a light red sauce with melted mozzerella cheese. Located in Mercato Centrale.
The Ponte Vecchio over the River Arno
- Ponte Vecchio
- Giotto’s Tower
- Piazza della Repubblica
- Piazza della Signoria
- Galleria Academia (the David)
- Pitti Palace & Boboli Gardens
- Brancacci Chapel
- Medici Chapel
- Medici Palace
- Museo del Opera del Duomo
- The Uffizzi
- Church of Santa Maria Novella
- Santa Croce
Florence is a very special place, and I hope to make my way back in the next year or so to experience some of my favorite food memories again. Enjoy yourself, soak in the sights, drink wonderful wine, take day trips to Tuscany, sit at one of the coffee shops and sip a cappuccino in the middle of Piazza della Repubblica, and remember to mangia, mangia, mangia! Buon appetito!