Curious Appetite

eating in Florence

Florence in August- Your Essential Where to Eat & Drink Guide

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

(updated July 2019)

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 years, I’ve noticed a shift of closures becoming less month-long to 10-14 days, or less.

This post is my handpicked 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. I also encourage you to sign up for one of my culinary food tours in Florence if you’re in town for August, where we will 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. Continue Reading

An alternative guide to the “best” panini in Florence

salami florence panini brunori

There is more to panini in Florence than l’Antico Vinaio. Places like Antico Vinaio are extremely famous thanks to a failproof recipe: thousands (13K+) of tripadvisor reviews mostly since they’ve been listed for ages, tasty albeit obnoxiously large panini and cheap wine all for under 5€. However rarely questioned is the quality of their ingredients. Like are those industrial factory produced cheeses and grocery-store quality meats? Aren’t you curious as to what’s in those sauces/globs?

I’m going to flat out and be honest- this post is a reaction to seeing l’Antico Vinaio on nearly every major publication’s list, usually written by writers who are just passing through probably gleaning clues from other articles without contacting local on-the-ground experts. While I’m not saying me or anyone is the ultimate authority, it’d be nice if visiting writers actually reached out to the people who live and breath the food scene every day in Florence, to make their pieces more authentic.

The panini at l’antico vinaio are good, even delicious, but not worth to me waiting up to an hour in line for. Italian panini, were meant to be simple and traditionally included few ingredients: primarily cheese and/or meat. It seems that they’ve become monstrous man vs. food feasts here! Not that I don’t enjoy a decadent massive panino, but again, I suggest folks to consume info (and food) with a discerning palate. I am suspicious of the ingredients in terms of what’s actually in there and truffle sauces with 99% artificial flavor and 1% truffle extract. My personal tastes goes towards more artisan style eateries, where ingredient quality is emphasized. Not always, I do enjoy junk food too! But I get a lot of questions “is Antico Vinaio really that good?” Yes- it is but in case you don’t want to wait in line for an hour, here are some alternatives.  Continue Reading

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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