Saturday, December 3, 2011


We were recently running a conference in Florence, and after many visits there over the years we have a few favourite places we visit to eat & drink.  

Life is too short for ordinary food ..... 
Choosing favourite places to eat & drink in any city is a very subjective thing - not just because the writer has particular preferences for food, interior decor & mood of a place, but also because one may have struck a place on a particularly good/bad occasion or chosen particularly well/badly from the menu. So listing the places I enjoy frequenting when we are in Florence means I am putting my neck out, but I am doing it anyway! My preference is always for good honest local food with simple but efficient service, as opposed to silver service - so these places are lovely, but certainly not glamorous. 

A delightful wine bar 
LE VOLPE E L'UVA (the fox & the grape) Piazza dei Rossi 
Whether you are a wine expert or novice you will enjoy sitting at the bar in this atmospheric enotecca which is situated between the Ponte Vecchio and the Pitti Palace. The sommeliers have collected a large variety of mostly Italian wines which are available by the glass, and together with a plate of local cheese and meats it is a perfect spot for a light lunch or dinner. We love that it attracts a local crowd who the friendly staff seem to know, so you don't feel like a tourist even though right in the midst of tourist central.   

Photo from
A wonderful Panini Bar
DA'VINATTIERI Via Santa Margherita 4r  Conveniently located under a medieval vault in case of inclement weather, this tiny hole in the wall has exterior stools for seating. It sells very simple, local food - a good selection of panini and a few choices of bean/pasta dishes washed down with local wines by the glass. Fabulous for a short break in a tourist's busy day, but one that will reinvigorate you to continue the impossible task of seeing all that Florence has to offer. (A beautiful traditional leather shop is opposite - he hand crafts superb leather boxes by moulding them over timber blocks, so be sure to check it out also.)
A great bread shop 
CANTINETTA DEI VERRAZZANO Via Dei Tavolini 18/20R Not all Italian bread shops are created equal,  so make sure you go to the best! This one offers a very good cup of coffee, either standing at a beautiful marble bar or seated at tiny tables, many varieties of bread/tarts/cakes in the bread shop, or a small restaurant for a quick meal - but my favourite is the delectable seasonal foccacia served directly from the oven. It is a wonderful pit stop in the middle of the day, or simply a great place to buy fabulous bread for your meal.

Photo from

A lovely restaurant to enjoy an intimate dinner
ORA D'ARIA Via dei Georgofili 11R
Located opposite the old jail, the name colloquially means 'hour of the air' and refers to an inmate's one hour of daily exercise time. In contrast to many of the traditional eating places in Florence, the menu at Ora D'Aria is modern and innovative. We find the environment quiet, and the decor contemporary and stylish - particularly the wonderful view of the open kitchen - it is a place worth luxuriating for awhile. A few weeks ago I read that Ora D'Aria received its first Michelin star, so if you are a foodie, then it is worth visiting for this.

A lovely (if noisy)Trattoria  
RISTORANTE IL LATINI 6r (Palazzo Rucellai) 50123 Firenze tel (+39) 055210916
We like this place even though I am warning you it is noisy, busy and can be quite raucous. The food is Tuscan favourites, served in good portions by happy waiters who like a chat. Rustic traditional food rules the menu and there is a good choice of options. The house wine served in chianti bottles is reasonable and well priced. 

Photo from
A rustic Tuscan Trattoria
TRATTORIA ANGIOLINO Via Santo Spirito 36/R Recently we were lucky enough to coincide our Florentine visit with a good friend of mine from Sydney, and this is the place we all went for a lovely Tuscan meal of good pasta and vegetables. I know the place is known for its Bistecca Fiorentina, but I love the vegetables or a simple pasta dish, as a huge chunk of meat is rarely my thing. A traditional Tuscan menu and rustic simple tablecloths add to the simplicity of this place. 

Fabulous Gelateria
GROM Via del Campanile (and many other places in Italy as due to a fabulous product their popularity is spreading rapidly). There will be little disagreement with this choice as many people rate this Gelateria very highly. Inspired by the slow food movement, the gelati in this establishment is made with fresh seasonal fruits, no colorings or artificial additives and a host of other high ingredients. Flavours vary with seasons but are always interesting exciting and some of the most wonderfully intense tastes you can have. Queues can be very long but it is absolutely worth waiting for! At the same price as other ordinary establishments, why go anywhere else?

If you have some other places that you love to visit send me an email - I would love to try some of your recommendations.