As I become more and more familiar with my surroundings around Florence, I have found some amazing cafés, restaurants, and gelaterias that I feel are an absolute must for abroad students to try in their time here. Of course there are still so many hidden places I need to hunt down, but so far here are 10 of my favorite go-to places I have found in my time here!
1. La Carraia: I think the one thing I was most excited for when coming to Italy was the gelato. I have a huge sweet tooth and I was on the hunt to find the best gelato in Florence. This journey ended early on when my roommate and I stumbled upon a gelato place right around the corner from our apartment on Via de’Benci called La Carraia. We walked in and were greeted with the warmest Italian welcome a father and daughter who run the family business, Roberto and Gema. La Carraia is open as late as 1am on some nights, but regardless of the time of day these two will always greet you with the warmest welcome and are still two of the friendliest people I’ve met in Florence thus far. They usually have around 20 different flavors that are all freshly handmade every single morning. There are various different cup/cone sizes but it’s all reasonably priced. I will usually mix 2-3 flavors but peanut butter is definitely my favorite! Aside from how great the gelato how and convenient the location is, I will go several times a week with my roommates just to see our two favorite people. Highly highly recommend this gelateria!
2. Pinos: Pinos is another place I have become a regular customer at, again for the great ambiance as well as the quality of the food. We were told in orientation to stay away from the premade Panini’s and find the ones handmade right in front of you so when I stumbled upon Pinos I knew I had found a gem. It is also family run and you will always find the owner Pino behind the counter ready to make the best Panini’s in Florence. My favorite is called “The Brasco” which includes sliced turkey breast, Brie cheese, sundried tomatoes, fresh peppers and pesto. I’ll often grab a Pinos Panini on my way to class and am always completely satisfied for a great price. No one can make a Panini like Pino!
3. Gusta Pizza: Gusta Pizza is probably the most well-known and highly recommend pizzeria in all of Florence, and for good reason! This is definitely the go-to pizza spot in Florence for visitors and locals. There are only about 6 pizzas to choose from, but whatever you order will be fantastic and made with love (literally in the shape of a heart). The staff is great and always welcoming and friendly even in their busiest hours, which are quite often as there is almost always a line out the door. I recommend Gusta to everyone for its quality pizza and a great price (5-9 Euros).
4. La Milkeria: La Milkeria is a place I found more recently but absolutely love and will be visiting as often as possible in my time left here. They have an incredible breakfast if you like sweet and fruity combined. I ordered the waffle with fruit, Nutella and topped with cinnamon gelato, which was as good as it sounds. They also satisfied some of my more American cravings like a bagel and cream cheese and caramel iced coffees. I definitely recommend this place for a nice breakfast or midday snack!
5. Signorvino: Signorvino is my go-to Wine Shop/café when I need a nice glass of Tuscan wine with a breathtaking view! They have a great selection of wine as well as a wonderful variety of fresh food on the menu. I would make dinner reservations elsewhere and go here for more of an appetizer/small lunch with a glass of wine. I recommend it to anyone who will appreciate a beautiful terrace overlooking the Arno and Ponte Vecchio and is really looking to take advantage of the Florence views.
6. I Due Fratellini: This was the first Panini place I went to in Florence and thought it was amazing. This restaurant serves simple, well-crafted paninis at an amazing price with fresh ingredients that are made right in front of you! There is almost always a line down the street but it’s definitely worth the wait for a quality lunch with many different options.
7. La Vespa Café: Something I’ve noticed about Europeans, and especially Italians, is that as much as they appreciate their meals, breakfast/brunch is not as emphasized as it is in America. That means it’s really hard to find a big “American” breakfast in Florence. I found La Vespa Café just when I was starting to feel homesick from my favorite meal of the day and it basically changed my life. Best breakfast place in all of Florence for those who enjoy a quality brunch every now and then for a great price! I recommend absolutely anything on the menu, but if you’re like me and crave eggs, bacon and a cream cheese bagel for breakfast then definitely check this place out!
8. ITIT Café: I absolutely had to add this place to my list as I am currently sitting here writing this blog and sipping on an iced coffee. One of the things I found the hardest to find in Florence was a nice café where you can sit at for hours with your computer and do work at. After finding ITIT café I go almost every day during the week after/before class to finish up some work, grab a coffee and take advantage of the free wifi! It’s a great atmosphere and I never have a hard time finding a place to sit either.
9. Yellow Bar: Yellow Bar is a restaurant actually closer to my side of town that I loved so much after trying, I ended up going three nights in a row! I got the Gnocchi Rosa and can honestly say it is still the best Gnocchi I have had in Florence. It’s a much larger restaurant than you typically find in Florence so it’s great for larger parties if you make a reservation ahead of time! They also have great pizzas and other pasta dishes for a reasonable price!
10. Edoardo: Edoardo is definitely another one of my favorite gelaterias in Florence. It is located right next to the Duomo Catedral and all of the gelato and their waffle cones/bowls are made fresh each day. You can literally smell them being made as you walk past, it’s almost impossible not to want to stop in and try some. There is almost always a line out the door because it is one of the most well-known gelaterias in Florence, but definitely worth the wait! They have a flavor for everyone, including vegan flavors!
– Eleanor is a SAI Florence student from the University of South Carolina.