You’ve probably read about it: Italy shuts down for the month of August. Well, not entirely. Over the last 12 years, I’ve seen this shift of cities being less of ghost towns. My first visit to Italy was 2005 in Florence during August- can’t remember noticing this apocalyptic country closure. But in 2007 I was studying in Perugia for the summer and I definitely witnessed the city empty gradually through July until August arrived and all there was left were the tumbleweeds and overheated classrooms (and professors). The last 5 years, I’ve noticed a shift of closures becoming less month-long to 10-14 days, or less.
This post is a curated guide to restaurants in Florence open in August- all month long. Bear in mind Ferragosto, the 15th of August/Assumption day, mostly everything in town will be closed similar to the Christmas effect. The listings I’ve handpicked are restaurants who confirmed being open all month, some even the 15th. Some will be closed or will decide last-minute to close for the 15th so better to call ahead when you make a reservation or if you plan on stopping by.
In the center of Florence in August, you could probably never tell the city shuts down. The major sites will be open, lines still long and corporate/big brand shops open along the major boulevards like Via dei Calzaiuoli. The places who shut their doors are really the restaurants, many bakeries and independently owned shops not smack dab in the historical center and major squares.
I’m not an expert on economics/labor/statistics but this cultural norm is changing and cities like Florence are less of a ghost town in August and locals are taking fewer vacation days in August, leaving a considerable amount of locales open for business. Still, I find la crème de la crème restaurants closed in August (like Ristorante Fagioli) because they are fiercely traditional and have the luxury to close. While others, like the ones I list, perhaps take advantage of this market opportunity and stay open to cash in on their neighbors out at sea.
As a local food writer and one who gives food tours, my picks reflect personal tastes (combined with professional experience & education) while considering logistics. I’ve left out all the obvious suspects like every single hotel restaurant and caffe in the center or some garbage bistro who thinks it’s okay to serve brown avocado but they have “al fresco” seating.
Tips: Keep in mind these listings will be open in August but will still honor their normal closing days. In Florence, Sundays and Mondays are the most common closing days- be sure to book in advance. I will note when a place is open also on Assumption Day/Ferragosto, aka August 15th. And my food tours in Florence still run, including the progressive dinner crawl so book a spot if you’re in town!
Let’s get down to it: Where to Eat.
Ristorante Vivo- This restaurant specializes in fresh catches and traditional plates from the Maremma (Southern Tuscan coast). Optimal choice for raw fish, oysters if you must, interesting wines from the Maremma and Monte Argentario, and delicious seafood pasta dishes. Good for families and big groups- I must warn there is little atmosphere but it makes up for it in food quality.
T’Amero- This restaurant is a pasta bar, they make their own pastas from scratch on-site and are located in Piazza Santo Spirito. The menu’ is dominated by funky twists on Italian traditions like pancetta & gamberi dressed potato-filled curlugiones to classic spinach & ricotta ravioli in butter & sage. A plus to eating inside is proper air-con and the tables outside which are perfect also for Aperitivo hour & people watching in the square. Address: Piazza Santo Spirito, 11r (Open Ferragosto)
Osteria de’ Pazzi- Good spot for traditional Tuscan fare in a “crazy” atmosphere. The must-haves here are their tagliata sirloin sliced steak which they have a variety of toppings (rocket, tomato and grana or truffles, or lardo and crispy rosemary) and their pastas, and pappa al pomodoro. Address: Via dei Lavatoi, 1/R (near Santa Croce) Open Ferragosto,
Club Culinario del Osvaldo- Regional Italian food, mostly Tuscan. More decadent rustic than just straight up Tuscan. Charismatic atmosphere and generous servings. Notables: the Florentine steak, pasta, garlic-heavy vegetable sides, cheese and meat boards (my god), and rich desserts. I love everything on their menu, eat here way too often and I think they are an essential restaurant to visit. Unique wine list to match. NOTE: They close for a week July 31st-7th. I know I said restaurants open all August but they are one of my favorite restaurants in town plus they ARE open for Ferragosto. Address: Piazza dei Peruzzi, 3R
Coquinarius- Wine lovers- this restaurant is for you. Here we find an appetizing list of pastas (my favorite being their burrata ravioli in pistachio pesto) but also a killer selection of wines hand-picked from one of the best sommeliers in town. For those needing a break from heavy Tuscan fare, they have decent salads and finger food tagliere (charcuterie) boards of interesting artisan cheese & meats. Address: Via delle Oche, 11R
Il Locale- This spot has it all: ambiance, service, craft cocktails, design, history and exceptional food & wine. Located in a restored & restructured palace whose foundations date back to the 1200’s but eventually changed hands to the Medici family in the Renaissance. You get to dine in a slice of history and you get to dine well. The pastas on point, the meat umami heavenly and the drinks ardently homemade & creative. Don’t baulk at the pricing- where else in Florence can you smoke in the drink lounge, dine in their Medieval era underground dining rooms, do valet parking, impeccable service and delightful food? If you value dining experiences as an investment, promise me you’ll snag a table at Il Locale. Address: Via delle Seggiole, 12/R (open Ferragosto)
Culinaria Bistro- Need some spice in your life? Head to Piazza Tasso for this little gem. They source local quality ingredients (Tuscan olive oil, grain, wine, cheeses, meats, produce, etc) from tiny sustainable producers and transform them in a sort of French/Tuscan/Moroccan fusion: tagines, hummus plates, meat & cheese boards, pastas, etc. Intimate artsy vibe inside. Address: Piazza Torquato Tasso, 13R
Konnubio– Kitchen is helmed by Beatrice Segoni, previously the chef at Borgo San Jacopo. Sophisticated but not stuffy, overly exclusive atmosphere. Ideal for date nights or fancy dinner with friends, refined, creative versions of Italian classics (i.e. cappelleti stuffed pasta with pappa al pomodoro and a burrata sauce). Address: Via dei Conti, 8r
Osteria Antica Mescita- Traditional Tuscan conveniently located in Piazza San Niccolo, an ideal lunch or dinner spot near Piazzale Michelangelo and Forte Belvedere. Simple Tuscan fare like bruschetta, bistecca Fiorentina & potatoes, pasta & wild boar ragu, etc in a not over-the-top kitsch Florentine woodsy/straw and hanging prosciutto e fiaschi decor. Address: Via di S. Niccolò, 60 r
Osteria dell’Enoteca- The former Il Santo Graal now turned Osteria owned by the crew of Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina. Classic Tuscan fare but not done in the gut-busting greasy spoon manner most Tuscan dishes entail. Their specialty is steak and a few refined versions of Tuscan specialties. Beautiful, pristine stone cave-like dining rooms and excellent service/wine selections. I’ve only been once but I’d go again. Address: Via Romana, 70/r,
For a pizza pie…
Santarpia- Owned by Neapolitan sweetheart Giovanni Santarpia, this pizzeria sets the tone for New Wave Italian pizza at least in Florence and I reckon could drum up some serious competition against the famous pie throwers down in his hometurf of Napoli. Fun fact: a few years ago at my previous job, I used to translate for cooking classes. I met Giovanni at his former restaurant in San Donato (Palazzo Pretorio) as I was his translator for some pizza making lessons. So I was able to learn his philosophy and approach, not to mention learned to make pizza with him- he really is a passionate guy and has a heart of gold. He is a purist for quality and his pies reflect this dedication. He has a penchant for decadent topping marriages and an extremely tasty selection of Italian craft beers. Address: Largo Pietro Annigoni, 9 (seems open all month, and you can book online)
Berbere- Another new wave pizzeria where an emphasis is on ancient grains, natural rising and Italian craft beer. I’m not sure how I feel about them now a chain (found in Turin, Bologna, Milan & Rome with plans for London. Still decent place for a pie in August if you can’t land a table at Santarpia, I suppose. What I dig about Berbere is not only the quality of the dough, but the fact you can order a few pies and share them since they come sliced up. Toppings seasonal from specialty ingredients like Cetara anchovies, tomatoes and meats from heritage varieties. Address: Piazza de’ Nerli, 1
For panini on the go…
I Due Fratellini- Looking for a panino? Head to the historical hole-in-the-wall since 1875 I Due Fratellini for a mega panino on the cheap with actually decent ingredients, knock back a couple goblets of wine and to hell with the larger than life lines at L’Antico Vinaio. To quell your sweet tooth craving post-savory panino overload, head a street over on Via de’ Tavolini to Perche’ No for one of the best gelati in the historical center. Address: Via dei Cimatori, 38/red
SandwiChic- This panino joint made my annual hottest new openings list for Eater.com and I feel is a welcomed alternative to the fluff panini served at L’Antico Vinaio. They have a small area for seating indoors in their vintage vibe shop, super homemade quality details like marinated vegetables, savory jarred sauces, artisan cheeses and meats. Wine by the glass too which isn’t just bottom shelf sewage waste baking in the sun. Address: Via S. Gallo, 3 (near San Lorenzo/Accademia)
When you consider wine an essential food group…
Le Volpi e L’Uva- For small, hard-to-find, mostly biodynamic producer-centric wines, rather than big fancy industrial winery brand names, Le Volpi e L’Uva is a gem of a wine bar and how lucky are we in Florence that they will remain open in August. Their warm cheese crostini topped with various specialties (anchovies, perfect tomatoes & olives, red chili ‘nduja, truffle sausage, etc) are divine, especially all of them, their meat & cheese boards extremely fascinating and from teeny tiny organic producers and I just love how down to earth the whole staff is. Thank you, Volpi. (closed the 14th and 15th of August) Address: Piazza Dei Rossi, 1R (near the Ponte Vecchio)
Signorvino- Another wine bar selection. While their wines aren’t as special as the Volpi e L’Uva, I appreciate the selection of regional Italian wines, the river-hovering patio outside overlooking the Ponte Vecchio (if you can snag a table that is) and their kitchen snacks are not all bad- especially if you do not consider this more than a simple eatery with decent food. Nothing organic or chef centric- just straightforward acceptable food to accompany the endless bottles of wine in stock. Address: Via de’ Bardi, 46R (also near Ponte Vecchio)
For beer lovers…
Picking a favorite anything is like picking a favorite child, whether that be a favorite beer pub, restaurant or gelateria. I love all the craft beer pubs in Florence for different reasons. These 2 are open all month long, Ferragosto included.
Brewdog- A quality rotating selection of mostly international craft beers and at least one of the owner’s designed brew on tap at any given time. Bar/Pub food is available, but that’s not what you should come for. The beer and staff are extremely quaffable, especially when one of the owners Lapo is around. Their collection of bottles and cans are exceptional, the burgers are decent and probably one of the best I’ve been able to find in town. Address: Via Faenza, 21/R
The Joshua Tree Pub- An institutional, soulful version of “Cheers” in Florence and the space recently underwent a renovation and it’s nicer than ever. They added more taps and are now more dedicated to serving craft beer, a mix between Italian and international brews. If Luca is around, you’ll be one of the luckiest beer lovers in town. Max, the owner is pretty awesome too and is super available to answer any and all questions (as long as it’s not a music night or they’re packed to the brim.) Beer geeks, stop by during the day if you wanna catch one of the extremely knowledgeable staff pourers. Address: Via della Scala, 37 (near the station)
Looking for craft cocktails? I Just edited my map for Eater for Where to Find Cocktails in Florence
Back to food but a couple convenient food court picks:
Mercato Sant’Ambrogio- A personal favorite of mine for produce shopping, and while the restaurants surrounding like Gilda’s, Cibreo and Semel will be closed for most of the month, the market will still stay open. But inside the market where all the meat mongers are, Trattoria Da Rocco will remain open (lunch only) Monday-Saturday. This is the holy grail of home-made family run greasy spoon Tuscan fare: dirt cheap pasta dishes, Tuscan panzanella & pappa al pomodoro, sliced roast meats, old school desserts like caramelized pears, macedonia and tiramisu’. Address: Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti (inside the market)
Mercato Centrale/Central Market (top floor)- Open everyday and this is like a street food court/hall and communal seating. My picks on the market’s top floor: Rome’s Trapizzino (hand-held pizza squares filled with deliciousness like double panna and anchovies, Roman oxtail or eggplant parmigiana), Il Tartufo for truffle pasta, L’Enoteca by Sandro Soltani for wine and Pizza at Sud. Address: Via dell’Ariento (open every day including Ferragosto)
Molo5: Street Food & Live Music- An small outdoor food & drink yard with just a handful of restaurant names in Florence with street-food stand outposts. This is Rex Bar’s summer spot in a very local’s quarter of Florence along the Arno river just a stone’s throw from Ponte San Niccolo’. They have daily music events, and a fully stocked bar (don’t have expectations for awesome drinks) with outdoor seating. The way it works is get here fairly early if you’d like to dine “al fresco”, snag a table, order food from one of the stands and drinks at the bar. The food isn’t exceptional, so I’d suggest getting a pizza from Simbiosi & a beer or Il Polpaio is a Elba Island inspired fish stand for fried fishy frittura mista and a bottle of bubbly, beer or white wine. I’d suggest Molo5 for a laid-back August evening snack during one of their music nights. Don’t really bother with the rest of the stands and don’t come here for just the food. Address: Lungarno Cristoforo Colombo, 27 (open till 1am)
For dessert and when I say dessert I mean gelato- most gelaterie (gelato shops) will be open all of August- they’d be really silly to close in August. Consult my articles on where to find the best gelato in Florence via these 2 articles, I sure hope they will be open:
Where to find the best gelato in Florence (updated 2017)
5 Gelato Shops Not to Miss in Florence for Browsing Italy
Since Italians eat extremely seasonally, here’s what to look for on menus around Florence during August
All things tomatoes, peppers, zucchini flowers/ Fiori di Zucca, (mostly fried), Panzanella (fresh tomato, cucumber and bread salad), Pappa al Pomodoro (stewed tomato and bread), black summer truffle, seafood, friggitelli (mild non-spicy green peppers which you normally fry or pan-fry), all things made with eggplant, figs, loads of basil, green radicchio, parsley, peaches, nectarines, etc.
In your August eating trust,
Stay in touch with more up-to-date eating tips on my Instagram & Facebook (search: curiousappetite)! Looking for food & drink tours in Florence? Check my gourmet tasting crawls or wine tours in the countryside to escape the city heat!