World ? Europe ? Italy ? Florence

Florence: Best Dining Bets

  • CibrȲo (Florence; tel. 055-234-1100): The amalgamated country-style decor of this restaurant belies its status as one of the city's finest kitchens. The dishes are Tuscan at heart -- though they buck the standard by serving no pasta and little grilled meat -- with innovative touches and plenty of peperoncino for spice. You may have to wait for an hour even with a reservation, but the wait is invariably worth it.

  • La Giostra (Florence; tel. 055-241-341): A closet prince and double Ph.D. decided in retirement to indulge his love of cooking and open this little-known fine restaurant a few blocks east of the Duomo. He doesn't stick strictly to Tuscan dishes, but rather lets his culinary imagination and half-Habsburg heritage marry Italian and Austrian cooking, with occasionally spectacular results. He also makes the best Sachertorte this side of Vienna.

    The Best Trattorie in Town

    When you're not in the mood for a formal restaurant, head instead to a homey trattoria, where locals and families go for filling and tasty simple fare at great prices.

  • I' Cche' c'Ȳ c'Ȳ (Florence; tel. 055-216-589): Tuscan standbys, such as tagliatelle with wild mushrooms and beef cooked in chianti wine, get a refined touch here. This place is far from undiscovered, but being crowded at the long central table (much more fun than the private reservable ones ringing the room) with diners from across the globe has its own charm.

  • Il Latini (Florence; tel. 055-210-916): Squadrons of prosciutto ham hocks hang from the ceiling, and the waiters scamper around cracking jokes as they fit new arrivals into spaces at long communal tables like a jigsaw puzzle and lay huge platters of grilled meats and bowls of steaming ribollita (vegetable soup) in front of hungry diners. Although tourists have known about this place for decades, it remains a fun-loving locals'-style trattoria, concerned above all with showing you a noisy good time and stuffing you with hearty Florentine fare.

  • Il Pizzaiuolo (Florence; tel. 055-241-171): Florentines can't make a decent pizza. But owner Carmine emigrated from Naples and brought with him that city's ancient trade secrets and the plans for a huge brick oven. This place is like a bit of old Napoli, with long tables, loud conversations, historic Naples photos lining the walls, incredible bubbling pizzas being passed to and fro, and basil leaves as table centerpieces. Come early, stay late, eat hearty.

  • Il Cantinone (Florence; tel. 055-218-898): Under the brick barrel vault of an old chianti cellar stretch long wooden tables where students, intellectuals, and extended families crowd nightly. The wine list is outstanding, as are the piping hot crostoni (pizzalike slabs of peasant bread slathered with such toppings as prosciutto, gooey mozzarella, spinach, and tomatoes). This is the perfect place to head for a noisy, cheap, but tasty meal.

  • Trattoria le Cave di Maiano (near Florence; tel. 055-59-133): This is many a Florentine's not-so-secret culinary escape, in the cool hills above the city. You can dine inside the rustic farmhouse or out on the famous tree-shaded terrace, with its distant view of Florence. The food is classic, well-prepared Florentine.

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