I must say that the idea of long, lazy 5 course lunches with the perfect wine pairing for every course sounds idyllic. The reality is that most days this isn’t going to happen when on vacation, especially if you are with a group or family and if you have limited time to see everything you want to see. Even if you are going at a more relaxed pace sometimes you just want a simple lunch, something satisfying and authentic but without the bells and whistles so you can just get on with your tourist ‘obligations’. A quick lunch in Florence doesn’t have to be boring ( really, when is food in Italy ever boring!) and can still satisfy you and provide you with a memorable experience.
During my years living here in Florence I have discovered some of the best and easiest places to stop in and have a quick bite, even a ‘paninoteca’ ( sandwich shop) can provide heaven for your tastebuds at an acceptable price and please young and old alike.
Here is a list of my favourites in no particular order, the best quick lunch spots in Florence. Let me know if you have others you would like to add and I will put them into my ‘Tuscany Travel Guide’
I Fratellini – Via dei Cimatori, 38R
This is a Florentine institution run by two brothers ( hence the name!) and is located just off Via Cavour which is the main street running from the Duomo down to the Piazza della Signoria. A traditional ‘fiaschetteria’ ( which is a word that derives from the word ‘ fiasco’ or ‘flask’ in english) it’s literally a hole in the wall where local Florentines and tourists alike stand on the cobblestones and lean against the adjacent walls to enjoy their lunch. The large selection of scrumptious ‘panini’ are listed on the chalk board and wine can be ordered by the glass. I love the wooden wine rest on the wall, each little part of the shelf has a roman numeral so you can remember which wine is yours. It’s easy and completely characteristic and definitely falls into the category of being a quick lunch spots in Florence. Be prepared though, there can often be a wait at lunchtime.
Mercato Centrale -Piazza del Mercato Centrale
You can’t visit Florence without a trip here, whether you eat or not, but it’s practically impossible to walk in the doors without eating as it’s all about food! A lively, bustling market ( and freezing in the winter so rug up!) full of locals and tourists sampling and purchasing produce as fresh as it can possibly be. The stallholders are all too eager to let you try their ‘wares’ and here you will see everything from pigs heads to cows testicles ( nothing is wasted here) and every type of local fruit and vegetable that you could imagine and more. From fish to meat to pasta and bread here you have the whole menu covered. You can have a simple lunch from one of the vendors like ‘Nerbone’ ( try the porchetta with salsa verde) or go upstairs to the newly renovated massive eating area. For foodies, this market is ‘heaven on a bread roll’.
Trattoria Rocco – Sant ‘Ambrogio, Piazza Ghiberti, Florence
Oh dear Rocco, what can I say.. he just makes this restaurant and has more energy than my daughters Grade 1 class at their Easter Hat Parade. Its a family business and he and his son run the show. It’s ‘cucina casalinga’ at it’s best and is a quick, no nonsense, good value and very authentic eating spot located in the Sant ‘Ambrogio Markets. It’s an experience in itself from the time that you line up outside and give Rocco the little wave to indicate you are there are want to eat until you leave, satisfied after your numerous courses. You share the bench seating with others in little booths with glass doors that are left open in the summer and closed in the winter. On the menu you find all the favourites from ‘polpette’ (meat balls) , ‘spezzatino’ ( Chianti Beef Stew), ‘trippa alla fiorentina’ ( Florentine style tripe) and other favourites that originate from the ‘cucina povera’ ( which means literally ‘poor kitchen’ and is what the Tuscan cuisine is based- using the left overs to invent tasty dishes ) like ‘pappa pomodoro’ and ‘panzanella’. Open only for lunch from Noon – 2:30pm Monday – Saturday. No reservations taken, you just have to wait.
Procacci – Via de’ Tornabuoni 64r, Firenze
What can be better than a delightfully delicate sandwich of smooth white truffle cream and a chilled glass of Antinori wine before heading off to enjoy the luxury shopping of the Florentine favourite Via Tornabuoni?
A refined and elegant spot ideal for a decadent morning or afternoon tea or even a light lunch, this wonderful Florentine institution has been here since 1885 and is said to be one of the oldest delicatessens in the city. It has a large selection of Antinori wines and a large selection of truffles based delicacies. You can sit down and enjoy the ambience or takeaway and sit in a piazza to watch the world go by.
Hours Time Operation
From 10am to 9pm, from Monday to Saturday
From 11am to 8pm on Sunday
Summer Closing from August 3rd to 23rd
Fuori Porta -Via Monte alle Croci 10r. Zone ‘San Niccolò’
Situated in the characteristic neighbourhood of ‘San Niccolò’ Fuori Porta literally means ‘outside of the doors’. Circling Florence are the remains of an old wall, built to protect the city and there are various enormous doors remaining. One of these, built in 1324 still stands today and is the only still intact which is still at its original height. It has recently been restored and just one of the interesting things in this area of the ‘Oltrarno’ to discover.
In terms of food and wine ‘Fuori Porta’ have it covered and are famous for their ‘crostone’ which are gigantic pieces of toasted tuscan bread with a huge selection of toppings. Share a few plates and some wine and have a true degustazione experience. They also offer on the menu plates such as risotto, various pastas, salads and whatever else the chef feels like on the day.
After your coffee, take a stroll up the hill behind which will lead you to both Forte Belvedere and Piazzale Michelangelo. Come back dow through Costa San Giorgio which is a charming residential area and will lead you to the Ponte Vecchio.
Open every day from 12:30 – just past midnight
There are so many wonderful places to eat around the city of Florence, some in the middle of the tourists areas, some hidden away. If you discover some that you would like to share please send me the names and I will republish maybe a Top 10 quick lunch spots in Florence. If you are wanting stay in the centre of Florence please have a look at some of my wonderful vacation rental apartments in Florence here.
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