With its stockpile of Renaissance art and architecture, Florence is often seen as more of a cultural than a culinary destination. But it would be a mistake to overlook the Tuscan city’s lively food scene—a mix of traditional rustic fare rooted in the surrounding Chianti countryside and dynamic contemporary dining fueled by innovative young chefs.
It took me many visits (and a lot of sleuthing) to penetrate the tourist-trap eateries clustered around the city’s top sights. The effort paid off, however, and today I make a beeline for the trattorias, street food stands, and mixology meccas beloved by locals. Here’s how you can savor the best of Florence’s dining and imbibing in just three days.
Florence’s surrounding hills are picturesque, but they make the city sweltering in the summer and freezing in the winter.
If you only have time for one thing, make it gelato, which was invented in Florence in the 17th century for Catherine de’ Medici.
Spend the first half of your day in Florence’s compact historic center, where you can get an overview of both the city’s culture and culinary landscape on a food walking tour.
By the time dinner rolls around, you’ll be ready to tuck into some hearty Tuscan fare. Enjoy bistecca alla fiorentina (Florentine steak), pappardelle al cinghiale (pasta in a wild boar sauce), and ribollita (a Tuscan bread and vegetable stew) at one of the city’s landmark trattorias. For old-school authenticity, Trattoria Sabatino and Trattoria Cammillo are timeless favorites; Regina Bistecca and Il Santo Bevitore are more contemporary options.
Delve deeper into Florentine cuisine today with a hands-on cooking class. Opt for one that includes a visit to the Central Market or Sant'Ambrogio Market to see where Florentines buy their ingredients.
Florence’s huge student population has fueled the city’s buzzy aperitivo scene. Spend the evening enjoying this Italian-style happy hour by staking out a table at the bar of your choice or bar-hopping down Via Tornabuoni to the lively Piazza Santo Spirito.
Get to know Florence’s Tuscan roots by taking a day trip to Chianti today. Explore the countryside’s farms and vineyards, tasting bold red wines and pungent sheep cheese along the way.
Florence’s cuisine may be rooted in the past, but it’s not stuck there. The city is home to a growing number of contemporary eateries—cap off your trip by having dinner at one of them. Gucci Osteria offers modern Italian dishes from award-winning chef Massimo Bottura, while Floret serves fresh fusion cuisine on the rooftop above the landmark Luisa Via Roma fashion boutique.