When travelling to Florence, many worldwide travellers are looking forward to one activity in particular: eating Italian food and discovering the top authentic and traditional foods. Italian food is known worldwide for its simple but beautiful flavors. While Italian restaurants can be found everywhere, you will be be able to the best authentic flavors in the bel paese because of all the locally sourced ingredients.
In Florence, cuisine comes from the Medici (Florence’s dynasty in the Renaissance) tradition and is very simple, mostly based on meat and bread. Here are some of the most well-known recipes and the top authentic and traditional foods you should try during your stay in Florence.
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The ‘Tuscan entree’ is a platter of cheese and cured meats, usually pecorino cheese and raw ham, finocchiona or sbriciolona (raw ham with fennel) and salami. The platter usually comes with a few lettuce leaves, Tuscan bread (saltless bread) or coccoli (literally ‘cuddles’- fried bread) and spreads such as fegatini (liver spread – as strange as it sounds it’s the best!) to make crostini (toast or crouton).
Ribollita is a wintery, hearty stew made with stale bread, black cabbage, beans, and potatoes. The term ribollita means “bubbled more than once” and it refers to how long it’s cooked.
This is one of the most well-known dishes of the Florentine tradition; not only do locals go out to eat it, but they also frequently cook at home. This might also be the only vegan dish in the Tuscan tradition.
Bistecca alla fiorentina is a delicious porterhouse steak cooked perfectly rare (al sangue). So you might want to avoid telling your waiter that it’s undercooked, as that’s the goal of the dish. As strange as that might sound to non-Mediterraneans, bloody meat does taste amazing!
The bistecca usually comes in a big size with a side dish such as potatoes or vegetables, so you can skip starters and the first dish. It’s usually a pricier dish at 40-60€, as Florentine steak usually weighs at least 1 kilogram and costs between 4-5€ per 100 grams.
Trippa and lampredotto are organ meat, or offal. Trippa is tripe (cow’s stomach) cooked with tomatoes, onions, parsley, and celery until it has the texture of tender roast beef. Lampredotto is the thinner part of the cow’s stomach and it’s cooked in the same way.
Both dishes are served in a bun with broth or green sauce and are perfect for a quick lunch or if you’re on a tight budget. If you’re a picky eater, these dishes might not be the best options for you as ‘panino col lampredotto’ (lampredotto sandwich) can be an acquired taste, even though most find it delicious! You can eat trippa and lampredotto at any ‘lampredottaio’ or ‘trippaio’ stand in the city centre.
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For those with a sweet tooth, Schiacciata alla Fiorentina is the perfect snack to bring on a walk around Florence. This is a simple flatbread made with flour, sugar, oil, milk, vanilla and orange, and it’s sprinkled with cocoa to mark the Florentine symbol of the lily. You can try a slice at any bakery or find it at the supermarket.
From the fertile Tuscan hills, red Chianti wine is produced with Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. It comes in several varieties, including Chianti (a mix of Sangiovese and French grapes), Chianti Classico (the purest one with 100% Sangiovese grapes) and Riserva (a full-bodied, long-aged wine). For an authentic and educational experience, you can go wine tasting at a local winery in the Chianti countryside or to a wine bar in Florence. Look out for scams at souvenir shops, as they might not always provide the best-quality wines.
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