photos: Silvio Palladino

I imagine that the travelers that are in Florence, Italy may fancy some food souvenirs to bring back home especially during the holiday season where stores are practically rolling out the red carpet, taking pride in their products and dignity in the decorations making Florence even a little more magical than usual.

My favorite souvenirs to bring back are usually food related. They are a hit for families, food enthusiasts, most ages and gender. Some tips on foods from Florence that would travel well:

  • Chocolate. Did you know that Tuscany does have a reputation for exceptional artisan chocolate? Ask me why!
  • Truffle sauces, honey and salts. They are in small jars so it’s easy to bubble wrap and stuff in your luggage.
  • Dried mushrooms- stock up on porcini!
  • Jars of traditional dishes like ribollita, minestrone etc
  • Mostarde: fruit chutneys and compotes that are used to accompany local cheeses
  • Small bottles of olive oil (you can find some in 100ml formats which means you can stuff a couple on your carry-on!)
  • Local Saffron! San Gimignano is a local producer of this culinary gold
  • Aged balsamic vinegars- traditional aged from Modena just happens to be an obligatory 100ml- carry-on friendly.
  • Vacuum packed aged cheeses (yes- you can bring back cheeses as long as they are vacuum packed. From what I understand, cured meats too.)
  • Espresso! My favorites are Mokaflor, Ditta Artigianale or Caffe Piansa- these are local roasters
  • Nut pastes/creams like pistachio or hazelnut- these would be great for baking friends!
  • Wooden cutting boards, made with olive wood. Tuscans are known for their “tagliere” (cutting boards). This would be great for cheese and meat gift baskets.

I just started a Gourmet Food Club, where I collaborate with fine bottegas to send these goodies from Florence to you, in case you don’t wish your bags to be bogged down with heavy bottles and fragile biscotti. We send along seasonal recipes and personal touches with every mailing! INFO HERE for Curious Appetite’s Gourmet Club!

Not into joining the coolest club in Florence? Here are some (about 5) shop tips for Food Souvenir Shopping in Florence in the event you just want a couple bits:

truffle panini while you shop at Procacci credit: Silvio Palladino

1. Procacci- Who doesn’t love a good truffle? Albeit a truffle shop with enormous notoriety, I still recommend it. This shop has serious historical importance founded in 1885 on Via Tornabuoni (the details of which you can learn and taste more of with a food tour in Florence) and then taken over by the Antinori family in 1998.

This is a great souvenir shop because you have a vast selection of truffle products, small enough to stash in your carry-on (truffle honey, pastes, creams, salts, sliced and whole vacuum packed) but also because you can snack on some of their very proprietary truffle sandwiches with a glass of bubbly while you shop. Address: Via dè Tornabuoni, 64r, Florence, Italy Closed Sundays

2. Bonatti Wine Shop/Enoteca- This is my favorite wine shop in Florence purely because of the unique selection and range of wines- they specialize in hard to find labels, natural wines, extremely small producer labels and boutique booze in general. Pick out a case and have it shipped back home! You may have to take the wines to a Mailbox Express- but totally worth it! The wines here are hard to find and staff friendly. They sell mini-bottles, bubbly, chocolates and tiny artisan food trinkets perfect for gift giving.

TIP ALERT!!! If you DO buy wine with the intentions to ship it or pack it on a plane, you MUST wait at least 2 weeks before opening it! Why? Bottle shock! Something about the plane journey, the pressure and the shaking disrupts the wine and it needs to calm down like a moody child. Address: Via Vincenzo Gioberti, 68, 50121 Florence, Italy Closed Sundays

3. Pegna Drogheria- Off Via Delle Oche (one of my FAVORITE streets in Florence) is a deli/grocers paradise bringing you back in time and to somewhere else. That somewhere else, I do not know but I can only say it feels like I am in a film from the 80’s in New York every time I am here. The interior design is drab although classic with this strange pea-green theme paint-job, it feels like a Walgreen’s and a luxury deli all at the same time. I’d say come here for specialty foods like cheeses, spices, coffees, jarred things, vinegars, spirits, chocolates and little sauces to gift. Address: Via dello Studio, 8, 50122 Florence, Italy

4. Dalle Nostre Mani- Humble little pasta shop, sister to Vivanda Gastronomia, that uses local, organic varieties of flour (like Kamut) for their handmade pastas, organic grapes for their small-batch wines from their own vineyards and organic ingredients for their jams, tomato sauces and other savory sauces like pestos. Worth a visit for some slow food style cheeses, fresh pastas, meats, wines and typical Tuscan products all made artisan and sustainably. Address: Via dei Serragli 32r Florence, Italy

5. Vestri- I am going to flat out say that they have been discovered (you can tell by the magazine reviews plastered over the shops windows). HOWEVER, some places are popular for a reason. The owner Leonardo, when he is there, is wonderful. They make a huge orchestra of chocolate goodies from scratch with quality chocolate that is beyond fair trade but is direct trade as from what I understand, the family works closely with a cocoa plantation in Santo Domingo in Central America.

What really makes my blood sugar rise here are their little pots of chocolate, which are like artisan forms of nutella-style chocolate hazelnut spreads and white chocolate sauces. They make thick, luscious hot cocoa dosed with rum which makes a delightful treat to occupy your palate while you shop, not stuff your face with all the chocolates you should be buying for other people. Hot chocolate not your thing? They have GELATO too! Beyond the December holidays, I go here too for Easter chocolates and those massive candy eggs. Address: Piazza Gaetano Salvemini, 11, 50122 Florence, Italy

In addition to these picks, also look for: La Divina Enoteca, Enoteca Alessi, La Bottega del Olio, both floors of Mercato Centrale and Coccole chocolate shop.

Interested in having fine Italian foods from Florence to you year round? Consider Curious Appetite’s new Food Club ! Or if you are looking for a food tour– I can help with that too:)

HAPPY HOLIDAYS,

Curious Appetite

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