I’m going to say somethings you might not like but when you ask for “non-touristy” restaurants in Florence in an attempt to avoid tourist-traps and to eat where the locals are- do you actually mean that? Also, what is wrong with being a tourist that is literally what you are. 

You do realize you are the very tourist asking where to eat without tourists like yourself? Let’s do some gentle google’ing and put some stats into perspective: Florence has about 350K registered residents and attracts around 10 million visitors per year while measuring about 40 square miles (that’s smaller than San Francisco, to give you scale). The historical center of Florence (where the boogie man tourists tend to congregate) covers roughly about 2 square miles. So knowing this- why do you think you’re so exceptional that you deserve to be the only tourist at a restaurant in a city the size of the national mall that contains millions of others just like you in it?

Don’t give me the traveler vs the tourist TedTalk, if you truly want to travel- then why are you in a hotspot destination like Florence? Lean into it! I love being a tourist, sometimes in my own city! This tirade can be applied to the people who rely on tourism and then complain about tourists. Oh, but they mean the good tourists. That’s some messed up elitist hypocrisy if you ask me!

Let’s be honest. Many humans simply suck and suffer from entitlement complexes, lack manners, self-awareness and emotional literacy- whether they have money, class, sophistication or not. People bring their baggage wherever they are- figuratively and literally.

Still- I’ll entertain this delusional request and if you want to truly avoid people like you (a tourist!) and learn how to spot non-touristy restaurants then be prepared to go to places that aren’t pandering to tourist palates highlighting spritzes, pizza and steak all under the same roof.

In Florence the real non-touristy food you might find involves lampredotto and tripe (basically boiled cow guts), salted cod and lots of beans (Tuscans are nicknamed “mangiafagioli“), chicken liver pate smeared on broth soaked stale bread or grocery store quality baguette slices, roasted squab and game meats, boiled meats slathered with herb green sauces, long-cooked cardoon thistles, bitter greens and salty sheep milk cheeses.

an example of the real deal, if you wanna know where- buy me a coffee on VenMo (@curiousappetite) this blog is free and doesn’t run on ads.

Locals and Florentines aren’t eating steaks on the regular nor fettuccine alfredo. While on the topic, this whole trend with mixing pasta in a big parmigiano-reggiano cheese wheel that TikTok has trained people to seek out is a theatric pony trick pulled at the actual tourist-trap restaurants restaurants.

Now I get the appeal of creamy fettuccine alfredo pasta dishes. I’m not above it and I grew up in the US eating my fair share of the stuff, including from microwave TV lean cuisine dinners. Can you feel your fingers burning from peeling back the plastic film yet?

When done well- how could you not love fettucine alfredo? Cheese and fresh pasta are a winning combo, delicious especially when the two are amalgamated with butter as the original recipe calls for. Plus, there is one restaurant in Rome where fettuccine Alfredo was born and is actually still served. So when consumed there, technically the dish is not a total trap.

But the problems with pedestrian “familiar” foods, watered down neon spritzes punctuated by old orange slices and wasteful single use plastic straws or restauranteurs pandering to tourists is that Italian culinary traditions are eroding in the face of mass tourism.

I personally refuse to give in to this while doing my best to be sensitive to people’s comfort zones and gently invite them to explore whether it’s restaurants I recommend or on our food tours. There are always plenty of options that fit the bill of genuine and delicious, that doesn’t have to be offal 😉

If you truly want authenticity, (which is a word that doesn’t mean a whole lot) here’s a few red and green flags to be aware of if you want to land at a non-touristy restaurant in Florence:
🚩 People asking you to come in or are so eager for you to come in they have people making pasta in the windows. What’s is this, the zoo?
✅ There’s gotta be at least one old guy or nonna in the kitchen
🚩Places with sandwich boards outside that scream tourist menu
✅ Most of the food is ugly and not photogenic. With few exceptions, most traditional Florentine food is not instagrammable.
🚩Fixed menus that aren’t tasting menus
✅Good extra virgin olive oil on the table that doesn’t smell rancid (would you be able to tell?). A dead-giveaway for rancid oil is if it smells like crayons.
🚩 Photos of the food or menus in 6 different languages

That all said, one of the best ways to learn about what a worthwhile restaurant in Florence looks like is to sign up for a food tour, like Curious Appetite’s progressive dining crawl (shameless self promo here) or pay me for additional consulting.

Can’t swing a tour or a consult, or simply prefer to DIY? Free advice is offered daily on my Instagram page’s feed and in stories (follow here) and monthly newsletter (sign up here)

I don’t know if I answered the q I posed but let’s continue the conversation in comments!

In your honest trust,

Curious Appetite

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