(updated July 2020)
Usually I write my where to eat guides geared to travelers, specifically American travelers perhaps because well- I’m American-born? This is one of the strangest years to be blogging, updating dining guides knowing this on-the-ground info will not be able to prove useful to my compatriots who usually roam my adopted home’s streets.
I’ll still update this guide to restaurants in Florence during August (specifically, for one of Italy’s most important national holidays, Ferragosto), This post is my top picks for where to eat in Florence on Ferragosto, the 15th of August (Assumption day) with the hopes someone will find it useful. Whether English speaking visitors/residents or a sneaky Italian-American (or who similarly won the European passport lottery) who like me lives and works with Italy.
In all transparency, I haven’t had the bandwidth to 100% edit this minus cleaning up some descriptions or sadly removing listings of addresses permanently closed due to the financial hardships brought upon by the pandemic, or for extended closures, etc.
So you may find some pre-covid (BC) nomenclature or an explain-y tone to newbies. If you know the Ferragosto cultural song and dance, feel free to scroll to the listicle juice. But rest assured, everyone here on this listicle (in no particular order) is respecting current regulations (some with stellar outdoor seating set-ups) around restaurant’ing in the time of coronavirus.
If you happen to be in Florence on this national holiday- bookmark this guide and I cannot stress enough- reserve in advance. Like now.
You’ve probably read about it: Italy shuts down for the month of August. Well, not entirely. Over the last 15 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 years, I’ve noticed a shift of closures becoming less month-long to 10-14 days, or less.
This national holiday is similar to the Christmas effect in terms of navigating closures and what to do in the city. The listings I’ve handpicked are restaurants (mostly in the historical center because that is where I live and I don’t have a car) and who confirmed being open, but always call in advance since restaurants in Florence are notorious for making last minute judgement calls. The pandemic probably isn’t helping either.
In normal travel circumstances, I’d encourage you to sign up for one of my culinary food tours in Florence if you’re in town for August, where we would hit up the best spots open during the month. I’d suggest either the Food Lover’s, Dinner Crawl or Aperitivo Tour as the best bets. If not this August, then bookmark for whenever you can visit (or quell FOMO with one of our virtual experiences or a gourmet box delivered from Florence to your door)
This post used to be where to eat in Florence for all of August every single damn day of the month- since it’s a game of tetris to figure out what’s open in August WHILE noting their closure days around the holiday week. This year I fell a bit behind (you know, trying to hustle during a global pandemic takes its toll) but I decided to change it to focus on places open precisely on August 15th so loads of places I like may not have made it here.
Thankfully, my talented, hardworking friend Georgette of Girl in Florence wrote guide to her picks to where to eat in August for the entire month which notes closure days. Be sure to check it out! It’s definitely helped me in a bind!
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.
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If you love gelato, there’s a woman you can thank for this sweet icy creation and that’s Caterina de’ Medici and her court who put on a cooking competition which yielded our preferred food group. My absolute go-to combination is hohomero aka anguria 🍉 sorbetto contrasted by rich, salty Bronte pistachio, ideally scooped from Perchè No or a handful of spots (My Sugar in San Lorenzo, Ara è Sicilia in Sant’Ambrogio or La Sorbettiera in Tasso) Curious to learn more about gelato, the Renaissance woman behind a lot of Florence’s food and dining history? Join our online event every Tuesday at 6pm Italy time with quad-lingual food historian Adrienne who also leads our gourmet tours in Florence! Tickets via link in bio on @eventbrite by searching “curious appetite travel” or by DM’ing for info. _ Buona domenica a tutti! What’s your go-to gelato combo? 🍨#curiousappetite #onlinetours
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. This is especially true in 2020 as many had to take their vacation days during the days of lockdown.
I’ve left out all the obvious suspects like every single hotel restaurant and historic cafe’ in the center. I will try to note lunch and/or dinner service for those restaurants in Florence open August 15th (Ferragosto).
Let’s get down to it: Top Picks for Where to Eat (and Drink) in Florence August 15th (Ferragosto)
Vini e Vecchi Sapori- (description riffed from my essential 38 on Eater) A family-run stone’s throw from the Uffizi Gallery makes its intentions clear on the handwritten menu outside: no pizza, no ice, no cappuccino, and no steak. This osteria serves traditional Tuscan food, and is known for its pappardelle in duck ragu, fried meat bracciole rifatta dressed in richly flavored tomato and herbs, fragrant saffron pasta tossed with zucchini flowers and a touch of cream, and meat-based mains like tomato-stewed cod and rolled, stuffed pork. This soulful Florentine institution is popular- there are outdoor tables (hopefully you get one of the tables smack dab in Piazza della Signoria!!!) so make sure to book in advance! Address: Via Dei Magazzini 3/5/7R ph: 055 293045
CIBREO (!!!)- I don’t need to describe one of Florence’s most prized culinary gems I’d hope (you can read my review HERE on Eater!) Except for Teatro del Sale which has been closed since March- the cafe, ristorante and tratto will be open on Ferragosto- lunch and dinner. PLUS Cibleo, Picchi’s Tuscan-Asian fusion spot will be open at dinner only. This is one of the few places I could eat nearly every day and never tire. *Chefs kiss* Address: Via dei Macci, 122r ph: 055 2341100
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. Address: 9A/B, Largo Pietro Annigoni, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy (Lunch and Dinner) +39 333 182 4183
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 ((DINNER ONLY) ph: 055 282 596
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) (Lunch and Dinner) ph: 055 010 6944
I’Brindellone- For locally-loved, cheap trattoria thrills you can’t get any more salt of the earth than this. A go-to for staple Tuscan classics, bistecca alla fiorentina and homestyle pastas designed to appease every wallet (and most palates) in your group. You must make a reservation in advance- even with zero tourists this place is pandemic-proof. Address: Piazza Piattellina,10 Ph: 055 217879
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. (Lunch and dinner) Address: Via di S. Niccolò, 60 r ph: 055 234 2836
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 break-from-the-industrial ordinary selection of boutique small producer 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 (also be sure to check out their scenic 2nd location in Fiesole) ph: 055 2302153 (center) ph: 055 597 8356 (Fiesole)
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 get a shaken and stirred show at the bar, 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)
To add (but running out of juice/time to describe them all but trust me they’re worth a bite): Trattoria Cesarino in Sant’Ambrogio is open too for Lunch and Dinner (full review here).
A Crudo in Santo Spirito for fresh carpaccio plates, plant-based, red meat and seafood tartares. Caffe Dell’Oro for Michelin-quality gourmet dining at respectable prices (think tomato pasta al pomodoro with umami-laden fish egg bottarga, lemon and shrimp risotto and some Nikkei sashimi snacks from their sister kitchen Fusion) along the Arno river near Ponte Vecchio. Check Il Borro (also along the Arno/Lungarno Acciaiuoli) as they may decide last-minute to stay open.
For a pizza pie…
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 (Oltrarno) and Via de’ Neri (Santa Croce) ph: 055 3994589
Le Follie di Romualdo- There is a term in Italian “pizzeria dell’autore” which basically means when a pizzeria is modeled after the technique of a particular pizzaiolo. Romualdo Rizzuti is the author of the pizza types served here and he’s had quite the outfit- first spinning pies at Mercato Centrale, then opening a spot in the outskirts of the historical center then moving to San Niccolo’ and a street food stand in the Lungarno del Tempio complex. Romualdo is definitely an ambassador to quality driven Neapolitan-style pizzas with decadent twists (think shrimp, lardo and truffle) and even if you don’t end up getting a pizza on Ferragosto- his pies are worth a try: Address: Via di S. Niccolò, 39 R, ph: 055 493 1923
Caffe Italiano- A fixture on the Florentine pizza wall of fame (get it?! 10 points if you get this amazing pun) Caffe Italiano near Santa Croce has revamped its menu to offer (in addition to their pizza mainstays) and Tuscan dishes (steak/pasta fagioli). Address: Via Isola delle Stinche, 11R, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy Phone: +39 055 289080
Ara’ e’ Sicilia- For Sicilian-style fried eggplant loaded slices and a bottle of volcanic wine from Mt. Etna (Nebrodi sheep ricotta filled cannoli and Bronte pistachio gelato for dessert) IF they decide last-minute to be open (still undecided) Worth giving a call to if you’re craving Sicilian fast casual on Ferragosto! Via degli Alfani 127 ph: 055 389 5893
For international food offerings, try Ararat, Ristorante Tehran or Iyo Iyo (call first)
For more summer-themed eat/drink listicles, bookmark this for Aperitivo, and this for spots near Florence’s major attractions for The Guardian or this guide. Call ahead, as usual!
When you consider wine an essential food group…
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)
Enoteca Vigna Nuova near Piazza Goldoni (near train station and Via Tornabuoni) they have a killer wine selection, tasty plates of fresh pasta (think potato stuffed tortelli, thick saucy pici, etc) , rotating specials like summer veggie caponata stuffed chicken rolle’ and loads of gourmet crostini and board options with specialty varieties of cheeses and cured meats to crush. The point is for a wine selection this ample, there should be delicious food to stand up to it and these guys make the mark. Plus their bubbles fridge is worth a trip in it of itself. Indirizzo: Via dei Federighi, 3/R, ph: 055 280778
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 ones just happen to be open on Ferragosto in Florence:
Brewdog- A quality rotating selection of Italian-made and international craft beers and at least one of the owner’s designed brew on tap at any given time. The beer and staff are extremely quaffable, happy to share intel especially when one of the owners Lapo is around. Their collection of bottles and cans are exceptional, the burgers are decent and one of the best I’ve been able to find in this ribollita, lampre and chianti 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)
Move On– This record store doubles as a craft beer and cocktail smack dab in the middle of Piazza del Duomo. They don’t have a huge selection of Italian craft beers, but enough to make it a unique stop for a sip with the best view in town (and tunes to match) Piazza del Duomo (no reservations needed)
Circolo il Rondinella- This is a community center (how do you explain arci/i circoli in English?!) which also does dirt cheap family style trattoria dishes, but while the restaurant section is closed- the old school classic Italian (NO FRILLS) bar will be open for a national beer and bag of chips to snack on at aperitivo hour outside along the river Arno. Address: Lungarno Soderini, 2
Looking for craft cocktails? Check my list on CN Traveler for best bars in Florence and call the one you fancy to check if they are open before going. Please bear with me, with the pandemic, there have been closures/etc and I’m a little strapped on time to call/figure out every single one of my past recs on other guides. Forgive me!
A couple convenient food court picks:
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)
Lungarno del Tempio- A small outdoor street food & drink yard with just a handful of restaurant names in Florence with street-food stand outposts. 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. Spots available include pizza from Le Follie di Romualdo, chianina burgers from La Toraia, fish food truck Pesce Pane for fried fishy frittura mista and other sea-snacks and La Dogana wine and cocktail bar. Address: Lungarno Cristoforo Colombo, 27 (open till 12am)
For dessert and when I say dessert I mean gelato- most gelaterie (gelato shops) will be open all of August but the 15th can be tricky. In general, feel free to consult my articles on where to find the best gelato in Florence by clicking here (but these notable faves will be open Ferragosto: Perche’ No, ‘Sbrino, Sorbiettiera, My Sugar and Gelateria de’ Neri)
When in Rome, eat with the seasons! Here’s a little reminder of summer flavors to respect and take advantage of:
Cold coffee, firstly in the form of a cafe shakerato (cold, shaken espresso served in a fancy martini glass!) 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, a decent variety of locally caught 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, mint, peaches, nectarines, etc.
In your Leo season eating trust,
Stay in touch with more up-to-date eating tips on my Instagram & Facebook (search: curiousappetite)