Tuscany’s traditional cuisine is prepared with seasonal, regional produce: olive oil, vegetables, cold cuts, cheese and pasta are some of the fundamental ingredients. The flavours are very natural and the food normally never comes accompanied by any type of sauce or heavy garnishes.
Some of the traditional dishes are: bistecca alla fiorentina (a T-bone steak grilled rare), trippa alla fiorentina (tripe with tomato sauce and vegetables), cinghiale in umido (wild boar with tomato), pollo al mattone (grilled chicken with a brick on top to flatten it). The best way to accompany these dishes is with a good bottle of Chianti, Tuscany’s traditional wine.
After dessert, why not have a hot cappuccino accompanied by a limoncello, a classic Italian liqueur which should be sipped slowly.
If you would like to try some of the traditional desserts from Tuscany, we recommend the cantucci or biscotti di prato (crunchy almond biscuits). It is also a custom to dip the biscuits in sweet wine.
Ice cream in Florence
Italian ice cream (gelato) is world famous, whether it be in Venice or in Florence and is a definite must when visiting this fascinating country. No matter the season, Italians eat ice cream all year round.
On the most tourist streets, a scoop of ice cream will cost you minimum € 2 (US$ 2.40), but if you look a little further away, you will find ice creams for € 1.50 (US$ 1.80).
Types of restaurants in Florence
Florence has several types of restaurants which we have ordered from more to less expensive:
- Ristorantes: They serve all types of Italian food and are normally more like fine dining restaurants.
- Trattorias: A trattoria could be called a small family restaurant.
- Pizzerias and Pizza al Taglio: Pizzerias are normally cheap restaurants that specialise in pizza. Like in Rome, Florence is also packed with restaurants called Pizza al Taglio or Pizza al Trancio, where customers buy rectangular pizzas by weight. If you would like to eat a good pizza, we recommend going to a pizzeria instead of a Piazza al Taglio.
Service tax and extra charges
Before ordering at a restaurant in Florence, we recommend looking at the menu to see how much service tax and extra charges the restaurant charges. Normally, the price of the service tax is € 1.50 (US$ 1.80) per person and the extra charges vary between 10 and 16%.
How to save money on food
If you don’t want to spend too much money on eating out in Florence, we recommend staying away from the restaurants on the main tourist streets. In neighbourhoods like Santa Croce (on the eastern end of the historical center) you will find numerous pizzerias and other ristorantes that hardly ever charge service taxes or any other kind of extra charges. If the weather is good you can even buy a take out pizza for as little as € 4.50 (US$ 5.40) and sit on one of the piazza’s benches and eat while watching the people go by.
In this area you will also find paninis for € 2.50 (US$ 3), which are a lot cheaper than other parts of Florence like Piazza della Signoria, where they cost € 4 (US$ 4.80).