Florence is one of my all-time favourite cities, so much so that my partner and I returned last year for the second time in a row. One of the reasons we adore this city so much is because of the food. Tuscan food is simple, fresh and full of flavour. If you are a keen foodie, then a trip to Florence is a bucket-list must.
One of the first things we do is visit the Mercato Centrale – the central market. It’s a great way to see what local produce and food the city has to offer. The ground floor is chock full of delis and stores filled with mouth-watering produce. If you are staying somewhere with a self-contained kitchen, I would highly recommend purchasing some food to take back with you. If you are feeling a little peckish, you may want to wander up to the first floor where you will find what I can only describe as a glorious food hall with long tables full of locals and tourists alike. There are plethora of choices, from pizza to pasta to gelato, to sate your appetite. While you are there, keep an eye out for the Mozzarella Man pushing around his cart, honking his horn and serving fresh balls of mozzarella. Order a glass of wine from one of the nearby stores, sit back and soak up the atmosphere.
If casual dining is not your thing, there are plenty of little restaurants and cafes from which to choose. Stumbling across unassuming trattorias, where the food is authentic and traditional, is one of the delights of Florence. One such place, only minutes from the Ponte Vecchio, offers the famous Florentine cuisine of wild boar ragout. We enjoyed it so much that we returned a few nights later! Seated in a stone alcove and served wine from clay jugs, this meal perfectly captured the authentic feel of Tuscany.
The next day, as we explored the city, we found another restaurant featuring the Italian-style T-bone steak, bistecca alla Fiorentina, which epitomized the rustic simplicity of Tuscan cuisine. Traditionally served with spinach and white beans and made for two, you will not be disappointed.
One Florentine delicacy some may shy away from is what is affectionately called ‘Head Cheese’. It was not my cup of tea but my partner loved it. Don’t be fooled by the name, as it’s not made of cheese but rather it’s a terrine style meat made from the flesh of the head of a calf or a pig. Not for the faint-hearted!
On our last day, after a long day trip around Tuscany, we arrived back in Florence and found a cosy little wine bar, called Note di Vino, where we ordered an aperitif. The charming owner offered us a fresh finocchiona sausage, which is uncooked and spread on bread. I was very uncertain about eating uncooked sausage but with fingers crossed took a bite … and found it to be delicious.
Florence is a treasure trove of food and amazing cuisine, and an absolute must on any foodie’s travel bucket list.