What to eat in Tuscany: best typical Florence food you must try

A complete food guide to the best Florence typical food you have to try when in Florence. Eat like a local and enjoy these great typical Tuscan dishes.

What should you eat when in Florence and in Tuscany? No, Pasta and Spaghetti is not the right answer! Of course you can find them in most touristic restaurant, nothing to worry about. However, Florence typical food is peculiar and so delicious that you absolutely need to try it.

Florence typical food: Menu

Actually, the best way to discover and taste local Florence food is to spend some time in the amazing food hall at Mercato Centrale, close to San Lorenzo. There you will find a huge amount of stalls displaying all the Tuscany local food you may dream of. Just choose what you want, point your finger, get your tray and enjoy! (read my post: Florence in a day for more directions) .

Florence typical food: mercato centrale food hall

Ready to start? So here is my Florence typical food guide!

Antipasti (starters):

Crostini con fegatini

Florence typical food: crostini con fegatini

You will hardly find a Tuscan menu that doesn’t offer Crostinis with salumi and a flask of red wine! The word crostini literally refers to the bread, similar to a baguette where the patè is spread. You will be offered many different type of crostini in Tuscany’s restaurants, but the real stuff is made of chicken livers. Other popular options are Bruschetta, crostini with minced tomatoes and olive oil and crostini with truffle oil.

Finocchiona

Florence typical food: Tuscany cured meat

The “typical” antipasto generally includes all sorts of salami, ham and cheese. While this may not differ that much from the salami you normally find in other Tuscany areas, there’s one which is typicall of Tuscany and that you shouldn’t miss: the Finocchiona.

Finocchiona is a variation on salami made of finely ground pork and fat, laced with fennel, and aged for a while. The unusual ingredient in finocchiona is fennel seeds, which give the salami an intriguing sweet, anise-like flavor. They are also behind the name, as finocchio means “fennel” in Italian. After the ground pork is stuffed into salami casings, the finocchiona is cured so that it becomes firm and dry.

Primi piatti (first courses)

Ribollita

Florence typical food: Ribollita

The Ribollita is the most famous Tuscan soup. It is a typical “poor” dish from the Florence and Arezzo cooking traditions, meant to reuse the left over bread and the most commonly available vegetables. The name, which means “reboiled”, derives from the former habit of preparing  the soup in large quantities, usually on Friday. The soup was cooked a second time (and therefore “reboiled”) in the following days, before being served. Actually, the ribollita gets tastier each time it is reboiled.

While many different vegetable can be used, a true ribollita always includes black cabbage (“cavolo nero”), Borlotti beans and dry bread. Once it is served, you should add one or two spoons of “exravergine” olive oil and freshly ground pepper.

Pappa al pomodoro

Florence typical food: Pappa al pomodoro

Half-soup and half-sauce, pappa al pomodoro is little more than ripe tomatoes, olive oil, and day-old bread. It’s a delicious summer dish, served in the majority of Tuscany restaurants.

Pici

Florence typical food: Pici

Pici is are thick, hand-rolled kind of pasta, like a fat spaghetti. The dough is typically made from flour and water only. It originates in the province of Siena in Tuscany; in the Montalcino area it is also referred to as pinci.

Pici are served with a variety of toppings, such as ragù (often from game, such as duck, hare or wild boar – “pici al ragù di anatra-lepre-cinghiale”), spicy garlic tomato sauce (“Pici all’aglione”) or porcini mushrooms (“Pici alla boscaiola”).

Pappardelle ala lepre

Florence typical food: Pappardelle alla lepre

Pappardelle are large, very broad flat pasta, similar to wide fettuccine. The name derives from the verb “pappare”, to gobble up. The fresh types are two to three centimetres (1 inch) wide. Like Pici they can be served with a variety of toppings, even though most popular Pappardelle dishes are “Pappardelle alla lepre” (hare minced meat sauce) or “Pappardelle al cinghiale” (Pappardelle with wild boar topping).

Secondi piatti (second courses: fish / meat dishes)

Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Florence typical food: Bistecca alla fiorentina

The most famous tuscan meat dish is actually… a T-Bone steak!

The true bistecca alla fiorentina (“Florentine-Style Steak”, normally called just “Fiorentina”, is huge (hardly less than one Kg, cooked on charcoal fire and traditionally served on a wooden cutting board. Though Fiorentina, is featured on the menus of almost all the restaurants in Florence, finding a good one isn’t at all easy. But when you do it’s heaven on earth, delightfully rich, flavorful rare meat so tender it can be cut with a spoon. Much of the secret is the breed of cattle, Chianina beef…

Cinghiale in umido

Florence typical food: Cinghiale in umido

This winter dish requires marinating the wild boar meat in red wine, vinegar, chopped vegetables, garlic, bay leaves, juniper berries and chili flakes for at least one night, and then cook it in a clay pot for at leat 2-3 hours. The result is a melt-in-your-mouth tender, deliciously tasty meat dish, often served with Polenta (cornmeal boiled into a porridge and eaten directly or baked, fried or grilled)

Lampredotto

Florence typical food: Lampredotto (Greve in Chianti - osteria Nerbone)

Lampredotto is a very famous dish from Florence, that you may find in restaurants or as street food (“panino col lampredotto”). Lampredotto is the fourth stomach of a cow, boiled in water with tomatoes, onion, celery and parsley. A typical Florentine peasant dish, the most popular way to serve it is in a bread roll, with parsley sauce and optional chili oil. ‘Snap up’ a hot cow stomach sandwich at one of the many street and market stalls in Florence that serve it. The most famous one is just in front of the famous “porcellino” statue.

Caciucco alla livornese

Florence typical food: Caciucco alla livornese

This is not a typical Florence food, but it’s worth mentioning because you may find it in your menu, and it’s delicious! Cacciucco (also called Caciucco alla Livornese – Livorno-style cacciuco) is a popular traditional Livorno seafood dish, fairly common also in Pisa, Lucca and in all the Tuscan coast.

It’s a delicious soup of assorted sea fish, shellfish and molluscs, poured over the toasted bread, which history stretches back at least five hundred years. The origin of dish name also proclaims the fact that cacciucco is rooted in a mixture of culinary cultures of many nations. It bears resemblance to the Turkish word ‘küçük’, which means ‘tiny pieces’ – small fish and molluscs were used to prepare the dish.

Dolci (Desserts)

Cantucci col vin santo

Florence typical food: Cantucci col vin santo

Originating in the city of Prato (close to Florence), Cantucci are presently the most famous cookies in Tuscany. You will probably be offered Cantucci col vin santo after all your meals!

Cantucci are oblong-shaped almond biscuits, made dry and crunchy through cutting the loaf of dough while still hot and fresh from baking in the oven. Traditionally, you are supposed to dip them into a glass of vin santo (Tuscany sweet dessert wine) before savor them.

Panforte

Florence typical food: Panforte

Panforte means “strong bread” which refers to the spicy flavor. It’s the traditional Siena cakes, and its origins may date back to 13th century.

The process of making panforte is fairly simple. Sugar is dissolved in honey and various nuts, fruits and spices are mixed together with flour. The entire mixture is baked in a shallow pan. The finished cake is dusted with icing sugar. The result is heavenly delicious! You may taste Panforte as a dessert in restaurants or purchase a slice in a “pasticcieria”. A tasty and spicy variety of Panforte is “Panpepato”.

Buon appetito!

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The most charming fountain of Rome

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One of the most charming fountain of Rome is also one of the best hidden, and seeking it out will help you discover the Roman ghetto neighborhood and, why not, taste some dishes of the Roman Jewish cuisine. 

The “pièce de résistance” of this tour is the fontana delle tartarughe (The Turtles Fountain), located in the out-of-the-way Piazza Mattei, in the Roman Juish Ghetto .

This lovely little fountain features four male figures propped up on dolphins and assisting tiny turtles into the small pool above them. It was built between 1580 and 1588 by the architect Giacomo della Porta (one of the most famous 16th century roman architects) and the sculptor Taddeo Landini. The bronzes turtles around the upper basin, usually attributed either to Gian Lorenzo Bernini or Andrea Sacchi, were added in either 1658 and 1659.

Turtles fountain, Rome

You will love this fountain not only for its beautiful late Italian Renaissance style, but also for the lovely and relaxed neighborhood, so different from the busy and chaotic largo di Torre Argentina square, which could be the starting point of your visit.

From largo di Torre Argentina take via Paganica and venture into the old neighborhood. The Turtles Fountain is located in Piazza Mattei (from the name of the family who actually financed the fountain in the 16th century), at the end of via Paganica – you just can’t miss it.

You can take your time, sit on a bench or sip a cappuccino in one of the two bars in Mattei square (I suggest the fancy Bartaruga).

Old wall, Roman GhettoThen, lazily loose yourself in the old alleys or, if it’s lunch time, walk down the old via di S. Ambrogio, heading towards via del Portico di Ottavia, were most of the Kosher restaurants are located. While relaxing and enjoying your walk, look for the remains or a very old past, that pop up from time to time in the old streets.

My favorite is the tiny and lovely Tempietto del Carmelo, build around 1572 by Pope Gregorio XIII; it was used to  give local Jews “mandatory” sermons, with the aim of converting them to Catholicism!

Tempietto del Carmelo 2

Also notable are the remains of Roman ancient buildings and statues, “recycled” during the middle ages as cheap construction materials.

Resti romani- via portico di Ottavia

The most famous restaurant here is Gigetto al Portico di Ottavia, where you can eat on the side walk, with an amazing view on the Portico di Ottavia, the teatro Marcello and the Synagogue.

Portico di Ottavia and teatro di Marcello

Here you can savor a delicious Carciofo alla giudia (fried artichoke, Jewish style). You should also taste “Fiori di Zucca”, delicious zucchini flowers, filled with mozzarella and anchovies and deep fried.

Roma201304_085

Gigetto Al Portico di Ottavia

Unfortunately Giggetto has become a tourist spotlight, and food level  has suffered a little bit. For a higher quality you can also test Ba’ Ghetto or La Taverna del Ghetto, on the same street.

Buon Appetito!

From here you can either cross the Tiber and get to Isola Tiberina or Trastevere, or you can pass under the Portico di Ottavia and walk to the Campidoglio

Enjoy your walk!


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Amazing underground Rome tour: a deep dive in medieval Rome

A fascinating underground Rome walking tour to discover the Roman temples and early Christian churches buried under medieval basilicas. Visit middle ages jewels, totally off the beaten path.

 

Have you ever dreamed to feel the mysticism of archaic Christians in a 15 century old basilica? Can you imagine yourself descendig deep stairs and get to an untouched Mithraic temple, buried under two layers of middle age churches? Well, you can experience all this in Rome!

If you think about Rome, the first images that will come to your mind are the majestic Romans’ remains, the renaissance palaces or the baroque churches. Middle age is a rather ignored period, which is a pity, since the centuries of roman empire final decadence and the dark ages that followed gave birth to some of the most fascinating and romantic spots you could find in Rome. Today I’d like to walk you through a half day tour that will dive you in a mysterious, unspotted Rome.

Let’s start our tour from the Colosseo (just to have an easy landmark…). A few steps away, in via Labicana, look for San Clemente Church.

Underground Rome Tour and Medieval Rome Map

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