Think “Italy” – and you’ll probably think “Italian food”. The delicious flavors of olive oil, cheese, pasta, and meat accompanied by great wine come to mind (and taste buds). Many of the staple dishes of the Italian cuisine were born during the Renaissance, when Florence was at its most glorious and the Medici court exported recipes and the concept of good food throughout the Italian peninsula (as well as abroad thanks to Catherine, wife of the King of France).
We at Weekend a Firenze have chosen among our favorites and created an itinerary for you: a two-day stroll through Florence’s artistic and culinary delights. We’ve made sure the program combines must-sees such as the Uffizi Gallery, the Medici Chapel, the Cathedral complex, the Vasari Corridor, and the Pitti Palace with tips for enjoying the best of Florence’s culinary curiosities, all within easy reach of the attractions.
Breakfast & Uffizi
Start your Florence visit by diving into the most important Italian art collection, the Uffizi Gallery – and you’ll enter into the atmosphere of the city immediately. Book your ticket in advance to avoid the long line and access the home to some of the greatest works of late medieval and early Renaissance without waiting. With the entry time already set, you’ll have time to stop for coffee, the true Italian morning ritual. Coming from the Duomo, take the famous shopping street Via dei Calzaiuoli, and stop at the Cafe Coronas for one of the best cappuccinos in town. If your heart belongs to chocolate, go straight to the Piazza della Signoria, where you’ll find the Rivoire – another historic city bar, with delicious chocolates and fresh pastries – right in front of the imposing façade of the Palazzo Vecchio.
Focaccia Bread & Market Flavors
Ready for some of Italy’s most popular foods? Almost every street in Florence is home to excellent bakeries, source of tasty (and low cost!) snacks and lunches. After a visit to the Cathedral of Florence, with its splendid Dome by Brunelleschi, or the beautiful Baptistery, take the Via Borgo San Lorenzo, and you’ll reach the lively market. Continuing on the left behind the stalls you’ll come to the bakery Canapa (Via dell’Ariento 21/r). Canapa has been baking for almost 100 years – and with dozens of delicious pies, panini, and warm focaccia filled with cheese, we’re sure you’ll eat to your heart’s content with just 5-7 euros! – Curious about the traditional ingredients? Turn back slightly and head to the market hall, with its red iron structure. Market stalls offer cheese, meats, wines and local products with unparalleled flavors. And you’ll also find some tables for eating tripe alla Fiorentina, beans all’uccelletto with sausage, or get one of the vendors to fill your panino with pecorino cheese and finocchiona (Tuscan salami with fennel seeds) – all options for a traditional and affordable meal! Your hunger stilled, you’ll be ready for your visit to the Medici Chapel, designed by the genius Michelangelo, just steps away from the market.
4:30pm: Gelato Time
Florence is hot, especially in summer. What better than a mid-afternoon gelato to refresh yourself and enjoy another icon of Italian food? There are many gelaterie, but beware! Don’t buy your ice cream where it is stored in huge containers: good gelato is creamy and soft, not compact! One of the most delicious gelato experiences can be had at GROM in the Via del Campanile, 20 meters from Giotto’s masterful bell tower. GROM offers flavor-packed gelato like it was “once upon a time,” with only the freshest organic ingredients. – For a relaxing gelato after a visit to the Uffizi Gallery, cross over the Ponte Vecchio, and turn to the right until you reach the Carraia Bridge. At the corner you’ll find one of the best ice cream parlors in town, which offers extraordinary gelato flavors such as the creamy Buontalenti, yogurt with grapes, pistachio and white chocolate. Enjoy your gelato on the bridge, admiring one of the finest views of the Ponte Vecchio!
Drinks & Tastings
Another ritual cherished by the Italians is a cool and relaxing aperitivo drink, enjoyed during a chat with friends after work, or before dinner. One of the most popular spots for drinks and canapes is the award-winning Gilli (at the corner of the Piazza della Repubblica) – one of the 10 best bars in Italy. – If after so much art and culture you prefer some guidance – here are some of our great culinary services: The Gourmet’s Tour, a delicious stroll through the Florence city center, where you’ll take gourmet pit stops in traditional Florentine bars, shops, and eateries, and of course also taste wine and vin santo. – Want to learn the secrets of preparing the two icons of Italian food? Take our fun Pizza & Gelato Making Course. And for those with a true sweet tooth: experience a day filled with chocolate with our Master Chocolatier Tour. You’ll visit some artisanal pastry chefs and gelato makers, and enjoy lunch and several tastings. – Do you love pasta? Immerse yourself into the Italian food philosophy and learn to make your pasta from scratch with our Handmade Pasta Course (with tasting).
Dinner in Oltrarno
The Oltrarno district is less overrun by tourists and fashion shops. It is the ideal area for those who want to discover the Florence of the people, with artisan shops (leather, ceramics, gold) and traditional food. The Oltrarno district is only a few minutes walk from the center, but may be the ideal place to end the day coming from a visit of the Palazzo Pitti (with the Palatine Gallery and the Royal Apartments), the Boboli Gardens, or better yet the extraordinary tour of the Vasari Corridor, the top for art lovers. The Vasari Corridor is a secret passage through the city, adorned with dozens of artistic masterpieces and breathtaking views. Your Vasari Corridor visit ends at the Piazza Pitti, from where we recommend you take the Via dei Velluti and then turn right into the Via Toscanella to the Piazza della Passera. Here, you’ll find several osterie with wooden tables without a tablecloth: these are the best! Enjoy a T-bone steak alla Fiorentina (with porcini mushrooms), game such as boar, hare, or pheasant with creamed spinach and field radicchio, accompanied with red Chianti wine. If you love pizza, one of the best kept secrets is Gusta Pizza (two minutes from Piazza Pitti, in the Via Maggio): one of the best Neapolitan pizzas in the city, served piping hot on paper plates with fresh beer. With just 10 euros you’ll dine in style!