When you travel to Florence, Italy, you have to talk about the food, right? I mean, it’s Italy! There’s pizza, pasta, coffee and gelato all waiting to be tasted and savored after a long day of sightseeing. But what are the best Florence restaurants, especially if you have dietary restrictions? Here are my recommendations for where to eat in Florence, Italy, including my picks for vegetarians or if you have to eat gluten-free.
I’m a vegetarian and hubby has to eat gluten-free, which means that our dining options can often be limited when we travel. While we enjoy eating out quite a bit, we’re not what I would call foodie travelers. We’re not super picky about where we eat, and if we both like a place where we can safely eat, we’ll go back and eat again on the same trip.
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Where to stay in Florence
There are many wonderful places to stay in Florence, Italy. If you can, by all means, stay as near the center of the historic city as you can. Florence is a very walkable city. From the Duomo, virtually everything else on your Florence itinerary will be within a 15–20 minute walk.
Places to eat in Florence, Italy, for dinner
Ciro & Sons
Via Del Giglio, 28
Hubby liked Ciro & Sons so much that we ate there twice. They have a FULL gluten-free menu and a completely separate gluten-free kitchen. They also have a FULL non gluten-free menu for those of us who prefer glutenous meals. Ciro works in partnership with the Italian Celiac Association, so you can eat there confidently. Vegetarian options are clearly marked, and they also offer a lactose-free menu.
The service was wonderful and the food was quite tasty. I personally recommend the ravioli with pecorino and William’s pears and the eggplant parmesan. Hubby loved their steak and fried potato wedges. Even the garlic bread (fettunta) was great.
Via del Oche, 11R
If you’re looking for a lovely dining experience in the heart of the historic center of Florence, I highly recommend Coquinarius. We enjoyed good food and good service. I do recommend making reservations though, even if you’re planning to eat early-ish in the evening.
I really enjoyed the gnocchi with tomato and basil as well as the cheese and pear raviolini.
Here’s where I made my biggest Italian dining blunder of our entire trip. I had heard that Italians eat salad at the end of the meal rather than before the entrée as Americans do. We had also read that it’s a good idea to order two plates for your meal: an appetizer and entrée or an entrée and a dessert…you get the idea. So, we ordered entrees and salads. Well, the entrees ended up being much larger than we thought they would be but we ate everything (taking away leftovers is not a thing there) then came the salads. They weren’t small dinner salads; they were very large entrée size salads.
I nearly cried. I was so full already and now I was staring at a large plate of Greek salad (with a LOT of large chunks of feta). Somehow hubby managed to eat his entire salad (where does he put it all?) following his full beef filet dinner, but I barely managed to get through half (if that).
So, kids let that be a lesson to you. Order carefully especially when you don’t have the option for a doggy bag.
Florence lunches and quick bites
Via dei Neri, 13R
Everything in this shop is gluten-free. Everything. It’s perfect for a big snack or a light lunch. We ate some flat breads with different toppings for our lunch after touring Santa Croce and then got a couple of pastries to go to enjoy for dessert later. They also offer ready-made sandwiches, savory puff pastries, donuts and cookies, as well as a wide variety of dried pastas and packaged baked goods.
We only ate there once, but definitely would have stopped by at least once more if our itinerary had allowed it.
Piazza del Mercato Centrale
Mercato Centrale occupies a large 19th century iron and glass building at Piazza del Mercato Centrale. You’ll find an incredible variety of food vendors and quick service prepared meals here. It’s a perfect place to find a snack to get you through to your next meal or if you want to pick up fixings for a picnic. There are also food stalls offering everything from pasta to pizza to sandwiches and so much more. The food court area is open quite late every day.
If you do decide to put a picnic together, just keep in mind that Italy has been cracking down on tourists eating (and leaving messes) at major historical sites, so be mindful of local regulations to avoid hefty fines…and be respectful of the residents of the town you’re fortunate enough to be able to visit.
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Piazza del Duomo, 5R
Yes, it’s a chain restaurant, but if you’re looking for reasonably priced gluten-free pizza in the heart of Florence I don’t think you can do any better than Mister Pizza.
We ate here twice and experienced quite good service and good food both times we were there. I also happened to take a peek in the kitchen (the have windows to the kitchen opening into the back hallway near the restrooms) and saw that they had separate ingredient containers for the gluten-free orders rather than just taking the toppings from the bottom of the container like some places do. We appreciated the extra attention to detail that gave hubby extra confidence that he could eat there safely.
Sapori e Dintorni
Borgo S. Lorenzo, 15/17
Sapori e Dintorni is a chain of grocery stores, and this particular location is quite a large shop just blocks from the Duomo in the heart of the historic center of Florence. We were pleasantly surprised by how many solid gluten-free options this store had. They also offer some great prepared foods and salads.
The reasonable prices also make this store a good place to pick up snack supplies and breakfast food options (particularly if you’re renting an apartment rather than staying in a hotel). Eating safely while you travel is so much easier if you have access to a good grocery store.
Via dello Sprone, 5R
If you’re looking for some good coffee and solid breakfast or brunch options on the other side of the Arno (Oltrarno) from the center of Florence, Ditta Artigionale is a great option. We enjoyed a nice brunch here after an early morning touring the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens.
I recommend their cappuccino and French toast. Yum!
Recommendations for the best gelato in Florence, Italy
Gelato is a must on any trip to Italy. A daily gelato is the rule for many travelers (I’m serious. We ate gelato every day). For just a few euros per person (at a reputable gelateria) you can try two or more flavors…and don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations.
Watch out for tourist traps that don’t clearly post prices, and plan to pay in cash though some shops do take credit cards. I recommend avoiding chains like Grom and Perché no!
Piazza del Duomo, 45R
It’s just steps from the Duomo and it is hands down the best gelato in Florence. We tried several gelato shops while in Italy, but the one we kept going back to was Edoardo. I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with your flavor choice here. It’s also open late in the evening in case you want a gelato to go with your passeggiata, evening walk. Don’t be surprised if you see a large crowd outside the shop. Just take a number and wait your turn. I promise it’s worth it.
Gelateria dei Neri
Via dei Neri, 9/11R
Gelateria dei Neri was hubby’s second favorite gelato in Italy after Gelateria Edoardo. The service was quick and friendly plus they had tables, which is great if you need a break from walking while you enjoy your gelato.
Gelateria La Carraia
Piazza Nazario Sauro, 25R
Gelateria La Carraia is just steps away from Ponte Alla Carraia on the other side of the Arno River. This is a great gelato stop if your exploring the Oltrarno or taking a walk along the Arno.
Navigating the dining choices in Florence, Italy, can be challenging especially if you have dietary restrictions that mean you can’t eat just anywhere and eat safely. Are there any places to eat in Florene, Italy, that you would recommend?
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