Curious Appetite

eating in Florence

Top Picks for Where to Eat & Drink in Florence in August (including Ferragosto)

Pasta in Florence tomato pappa al pomodoro
All things summer tomatoes at Osteria de’ Pazzi

(updated July 2024)

Notes for 2024, this is still a delicious guide if I may say but dates in which restaurants close may change on a dime. Call ahead! We are offering our Progressive Dining Crawl during select dates in August as well- this would be an excellent way to save the headache of finding places open for at least one evening of dining while in Florence!

The best times to call restaurants to book are Tuesday-Saturdays and around 12-1pm or 7pm-8pm right when they open or a little bit before if you want to make sure someone picks up. I wouldn’t relying on booking online but instead messaging on Instagram if they have a page. Good luck and happy eating- Coral 

This post (originally written in 2017, I believe!?) is updated to be your guide to eating and drinking well in Florence during August (specifically, for one of Italy’s most important national holidays, Ferragosto, the 15th of August (Assumption day) with the hopes someone will find it useful. If you know the Ferragosto cultural song and dance, feel free to scroll to the listicle juice. Continue Reading

Searching for Florence’s Best Panini (that’s not All’Antico Vinaio)

 

I went to the dark side so I could tell you where to find the light

this post was originally published in 2016 and it gets updated annually, last update July 2024

I’ll say it- there is more to panini in Florence than All’Antico Vinaio. And if you’re wondering why they are extremely famous, consider this failproof recipe: thousands (13K when this post was originally published, now 30K+ in 2024) of tripadvisor reviews mostly since they’ve been listed for ages, larger-than-life panini and cheap wine all for under 5-10€ (in 2016- that is more like 9-15eu in 2024). Plus viral word of mouth recommendations in tandem with short form videos on social media that spread faster than lightning.

The panini at l’Antico Vinaio are at best edible, for some with easy going palates even delicious. For me, AV is not worth to me waiting up to an hour (or even 5 minutes) in line for. Now that the empire has grown- they’ve taken over Via de’ Neri and the original location bears striking resemblance to a Mickey Dee’s with the old wine shelves replaced by digital DIY order kiosks- the wait is less but the sandwich (and the concept of AV) has lost a lot of its original magic.

Hey, at the end of the day the owners are flying 1st class drinking champers en route to opening more shops around the world- can’t help but to be impressed by their entrepreneurial spirit in a country where most have either left, resigned or are still living with their parents.

If anything, I would shake their hands to congratulate them for their success in such a difficult place to run a business and having the world success they now enjoy. However, I am one that believes that 2 (or many) things can be true at the same time.

I still think that sandwich is not worth eating and the bread feels like a loofah to the roof of my mouth and is packed with overly salted industrial quality ingredients (worse than costco) lacking in distinct flavors leaving me thirsty the rest of the day. And the wrappers all around the city because garbage cans are already too full of them are a disgrace.

Bear in mind in reading this post, I’m not here to rag on any particular business, and food is extremely personal, but as a food blogger in Florence for over a decade- I am here from a rather caring place to offer up some alternative suggestions for those who also live to eat.

Since I care about food journalism, I did some research recently (May of 2024) and ordered their “Bada Come la Fuma” (named after their motto I think explains the owner’s ruthless determination) of pancetta, arugula and pecorino and added pistachio pesto, but since this combo already had honey- it tasted like pistachio dessert spread and there was no one to tell me “che schifo” (warning: gross combo!) when I ordered from the humanless robot kiosk.

Now that one can order from a kiosk at AV, the human factor is lacking when making filling decisions. Florence has lost a lot of soul over these last 10+ years I’ve called it home.

My personal tastes goes towards more soulful artisan style eateries, where ingredient sourcing/quality is emphasized. Although I’m not above a good junky pizza from time to time! But I get a lot of questions “is Antico Vinaio really that good?” DEPENDS on your definition of good. In case you would like to find a panino which is a little more unique, here are some alternatives.

If you appreciate this post, consider treating me to a panino via VenMo (which yields more free recs) or booking a curated walking food tour with yours truly, this Historic Food Lover’s crawl in particular visits delis and panino shacks too. No pressure if you can’t swing it- there’s a google map at the end of this post if you just want the names and free tips on my social media channels like Instagram and TikTok.

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Aperitivo in Florence – UPDATED!

Photo Credit: Sam Engel (contact me to get in touch with Sam- he’s a great photographer!)

Man oh man, it’s been a painful few months knowing I had a very popular/read post just dying to be updated. Mostly, I wanted to update my article on Aperitivo in Florence because there were some spots that have gone horribly downhill and it took some personal visits to realize horrifically how disgusting they were in both terms of service and quality. It’s a real bummer when recommendations get outdated, usually due to a rise in popularity, If people catch on to a good place in Florence, it usually doesn’t stay secret for long (which should usually be a good thing!) Unless locales are prepared for the increased volume, they usually can’t keep up with providing consistent quality and service.

Here is the link to my updated post:

Aperitivo in Florence- a round-up

And while I was at it, I realized the article I wrote on Where to Eat in San Niccolo (the area near Piazzale Michelangelo) was also a bit outdated so I cleaned it up, with a realization that most places in that area suck. Florence, what is wrong with you?! (Sometimes) Continue Reading

Trattoria Coco Lezzone (Florence, Italy): Mixed feelings

By a fateful accident of texts exchanged between me and a pal we ended up dining at Coco Lezzone for what should have been a no-nonsense weekday lunch date. I suggested Coco Filippo and said pal replied “oh, you must mean Coco Lezzone!” Since I never heard of this trattoria before, truth be told, I wrote off Filippo and said to Lezzone we go! Continue Reading

In defense of food in Florence

take note.

I realize that for foodies from countries like America, Tuscan food in Florence can seem confusing. Recently, I took a quick stroll through common criticisms on sites like yelp and tripadvisor and decided to respond. These misunderstandings can be avoided, and I question the information out there educating people about what real Tuscan food and Italian food culture is about. Yes, Italian food includes plates of creamy gnocchi, carb-rich lasagna, pillow-y charred pizza and silky tagliatelle pasta and rich ragu’. But it is also a culture of regional foods, simple eating with little condiment. People eat out somewhat frequently in Italy, whether for a panino on the go or a quick plate of sliced roast beef and vegetables on lunch break. These meals are consumed casually at simple local cafes, hole in the walls or neighborhood trattorias. The grey area is that everyday Italians rarely go out for nicer, gourmet meals at atmospheric restaurants raved about in culture and leisure publications/blogs which travelers tend to chase after, giving a false impression of what the local eating culture is truly like. Continue Reading

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