Being back in Seattle, I realize how big this city is after living in teeny tiny Florence, where I could walk from one end of the city (Santa Croce) to the other (Oltrarno, Santo Spirito) in about 20 minutes. However as tiny as Florence is, about 5 areas/neighborhoods come immediately to mind when looking for consistently good food in Florence. While I have endless places to eat in my massive food memory banks, I’ve narrowed it down to a few. Here are my instinctive opinions on where to eat in Florence:

1. Sant’Ambrogio. Commonly lumped in with Santa Croce, it is one of the best if not best neighborhoods in Florence. You can generally bank on a place not sucking if you wonder around the streets of this area. Places of note are: Gilda’s, Vivo for fresh seafood, La Ghiotta for simple “tavola calda” style eats, Cibreo (the tiny trattoria next door is less costly than the restaurant) and La Divina Pizza. And since I mentioned Santa Croce, I’ll give you my 2 favorite picks in that area: Ristorante Fagioli and Club Culinario da Osvaldo. 

Fruits of the sea at La Ghiotta, Sant’Ambrogio

2. Oltrarno. On the other side of the river, ya know where Santo Spirito is. The Oltrarno is what everyone coins as the Brooklyn of Florence. I kind of despise that term and standard. Florence was here 1st so isn’t Brooklyn the Florence of New York City? Anyways. Basically lots of style chasers and beautiful people hang out here.  More notably, people who want to escape the herds of tourists. And people with distinct tastes. Places of note are: Vivanda Gastronomia, Trattoria Giovanni, Trattoria dell’Orto and i’Raddi. Looking for Gustapizza and Casalinga? I think Gustapizza is for tourists, students and has become a mere attraction, the same for Casalinga.

fancy, artisan Tuscan appetizer platter at Vivanda. And their wine, too.

3. Santa Maria Novella. Yes, good eating near the train station- yes you can! But be careful! There are some of the best mom and pop trattoria’s in this area but also some of the dumpiest tourist traps. Places of note are: Trattoria da Giorgio for dirt cheap eats, Banki Ramen for a hole-in-the-wall ethnic food fix and Trattoria dei 13 Gobbi for large groups who want that kitschy Florentine experience but with decent food.

4. San Frediano. Take a jaunt down past Santo Spirito on Borgo San Frediano to eat in one of the cutest residential areas of Florence while being just outside the historical center. This is really the place to escape the herds. This is probably my favorite next to Sant’Ambrogio for eating in Florence. During the day, there is an amazing food truck/stand I recall as being sublime for all things offal named: L’Trippaio di San Frediano. This food stand is also amazing because they have an array of first courses for lunch like pasta dishes with boar meat and potato ravioli. Other places of note: Sabatino for dirt cheap eats and Io Osteria Personale for tasting menu modern.

5. San Lorenzo. I think this is a bashed neighborhood. Yes, it is touristic but for good reason! It is the epicenter of Florence’s food history with the central market and still has some serious Florentine soul. Yes, it is now filled with a bunch of tourist crap and overpriced leather selling bozos, but you can’t let that interfere with you experiencing San Lorenzo and its food. Places of note are: Trattoria Mario (only open for lunch! Always a goodie!), lunch at Nerbone in the Central Market for comfort Tuscan food, Casa del Vino for a good wine/snack bar and Focaccine Bondi for one of the best, cheap hole-in-the-wall panini experiences of your life.

Bistecca at Mario’s.

Been to any of my haunts or have one of your own? Leave a comment below and share your experience!

In food hunting,

Curious Appetite

Want to discover more eateries, wine bars and street food with me? Let me know when you’re in Florence!

8 Comments on My 5 favorite areas for eating in Florence

  1. GirlinFlorence
    September 9, 2014 at 7:40 am (3 years ago)

    love this list my girl! especially everything you listed in the oltrarno, I also highly recommend you try Enoteca Barrique on via del leone which is a real find (in my opinion). I have been dying to try ‘io personale’ on borgo san frediano so you might have given me the push to now do so

    ps. totally agree about cibreo, the trattoria is just as good and a lot less expensive

    Reply
    • Curious Appetite
      September 9, 2014 at 4:11 pm (3 years ago)

      Ooooooohhh girl! I cannot wait to be back in Florence:)

      Reply
      • GirlinFlorence
        September 9, 2014 at 6:06 pm (3 years ago)

        Girl it’s on when you’re back 😉

  2. Joanna
    September 9, 2014 at 9:34 am (3 years ago)

    Bravo – I love this post and will try these scrumptious establishments. Gelateria de’Neri is now my favorite thanks to you! We’ve been in Florence just over two weeks and I’ve grown quite weary of the “overpriced leather selling bozos” … so funny (and true).

    Reply
    • Curious Appetite
      September 9, 2014 at 4:09 pm (3 years ago)

      That’s awesome, thank you! Keep in touch with your experiences!

      Reply
  3. Sharon Stinson
    September 9, 2014 at 10:18 am (3 years ago)

    Thanks so much for this list. Our first trip to Italy is in less than 4 weeks and we haven’t found many good sources for non-touristy food in Florence. The whole goal of our trip is to wander neighborhoods to really get a feel for the cities we’re visiting, you’ve just made that easier.

    Reply
    • Curious Appetite
      September 9, 2014 at 4:04 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks Sharon! I hope you keep me posted on your travels.

      Reply
      • Sharon
        September 9, 2014 at 5:54 pm (3 years ago)

        I’ll keep you posted. I’m spending much more time researching food than art. In Italy art will be everywhere we look so other than brief trips to a few museums it will be all about walking and eating and drinking and absorbing.

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