Just down the road from my adopted hometown, Montelupo Fiorentino, and a quick 15 minute drive from Florence city is one of my favorite restaurants hidden away in the quiet of the Tuscan countryside, nestled in a centuries-old park. As in so many places in this country, Le Scuderie de L'Antinoro is located in a building that boasts amazing historic value but you wouldn't know that unless you asked. Italians are so used to living surrounded with remnants of the past that they hardly take notice. This local restaurant was originally built as the stall ("scuderie" in Italian) where Italy's King Victor Emmanuel II once kept his horses when Florence had briefly replaced Turin as the capital of Italy in 1865. After years of abandon, in 1995... >>
Another recommendation through my "local" eyes (my favorite food places that aren't necessarily on the main tourist path) is in Empoli, a lively city of about 48,000 people about 30 minutes west of Florence. Empoli can be easily reached from Florence by way of the FI-PI-LI highway and is a great stop for anyone heading out towards Pisa for a day trip. Very few tourists ever get to Empoli which makes it a perfect destination for anyone seeking out backroads itineraries. The historic center of Empoli is quaint and beautiful is well worth a visit. It could also be part of a Tuscan itinerary off the beaten track such as our exciting Unconventional Tuscany tour that takes you through some of the most amazing parts of this area such as Vinci... >>
I read about this place on a few different sites so I was curious to see what all the hype is about. Just literally 2 steps away from the Duomo in Florence, this is an excellent location for a quick lunch or snack when you're on the go. No seating available, this shop is about the size of my closet! In Italian the word "toast" has been adopted to refer to an anonymous grilled sandwich, typically filled with ham and cheese. The name I' Tosto is a Tuscan take on this English word, as it would be pronounced in the local dialect. I stopped by and loved their menu hanging out on the wall outside, 16 different kinds of sandwiches, all with creative mixes of ingredients! For someone who has been living in Italy for the past 20 years... >>
Although I was born and raised in New York and am a true New Yorker at heart, I most times feel like a local in my small town tucked away in Tuscany. I've been living here for 20 years now and am so fully emerged in Italian life and culture, that I sometimes forget I've been adopted by this country!
So through my "local" eyes, I thought I'd begin recommending my favorite food places that aren't necessarily on the main tourist path. When I visit a new city or country, I know I usually like to hunt down those hideaways where you don't find tourists, where just the regulars go to hang out and unwind and enjoy great food. I'll start from my town, Montelupo Fiorentino, totally off the beaten track even if it's just 15 minutes from Florence. >>
Wow I'm sitting in this cafe with my back turned to the door (so I can't see the street outside) and I feel like I'm being transported back to NYC or London. For a New Yorker who's been living in Italy for a way long time this place is a refreshing blast of the contemporary anglosaxon coffee-lounging-Starbucks culture that I often miss... only that the coffee here is actually good! The espresso is a certified Italian espresso (as regulated by the national institute of Italian espresso...yes that actually exists). The rest is very un-Italian -- from the muffins and donuts, to the sandwiches and seitan snacks, to the spacious interior complete with couches and armchairs and free WIFI. >>
Great little boutique bread shop in the Santo Spirito neighborhood with lots of goodies. This place is open by the same owners of the nearby restaurant, Il Santo Bevitore, and the snack place next to that, Il Santino, two of my favorite places to eat in the city. Il Santo Forno did not disappoint - the same top quality eats and not just the usual Tuscan loaves that you find in most places but several different kinds of breads, focaccia and cakes/sweets too. >>
It's the kind of place that you dream to find...the hidden, off the beaten path restaurant that only locals go to, where you know they don't speak English and the food is genuine and oh so good.
We happened upon it last October for my hubby's bday, strangely enough though we live in the area no one had ever told us about this place. It's an "agriturismo", what in Italy is known as a farmhouse that offers accommodations and at times, food -- what was once a simple solution for travelers that nowadays often is quite a luxurious experience topped with infinity pools and stunning views of rolling hills. Well, Sapori di Toscana is none of all that. It is a no-frills experience for die-hard lovers of the Tuscan way of life. >>
The idea of street food has always existed in Florence but while years ago it was seen as something quick to grab when short of time, nowadays a real cult has grown out of the "cibo di strada" movement and it is becoming more and more of a trend - foods that you choose not necessarily because you need to save time or money, but because it's just downright good! But although street food adventures have become a new trend now in the foodie age, the bites that you chow down are far from trendy. They are mainly traditional foods that have always fed and sustained the people, often workers and artisans during their moment of rest midday. Here is a list of the best munches to experience "in piedi" (standing) when in Florence. >>