Italy is famous for its delicious food, but that doesn’t mean every restaurant is a winner. On a recent trip to Florence, we were fortunate enough to discover some truly excellent eateries. Here are our top picks for where to chow down in this stunning city:

Trattoria Mario

If you’re looking for a tasty and affordable lunch, head to Trattoria Mario (Via Rosina 2, near the Mercato Centrale). This tiny spot has been serving up classic Florentine fare for over six decades. It’s incredibly popular with locals, so be prepared for a wait and possibly sharing a table.

But trust us, it’s worth it. Don’t miss their tortelli di patate (potato-filled pasta) with meat sauce or their fried steak with tomato sauce. Simple, hearty, and absolutely delicious.

Trattoria Sostanza (Il Troia)

For a meal that will make your taste buds sing, make a reservation at Trattoria Sostanza, also known as Il Troia (Via Porcellana, 25/r). This cozy trattoria is a favorite among Florentines, and for good reason.

Their specialties include pollo al burro (chicken cooked in butter) and fiorentina bistecca (Florentine-style steak). The dining experience is communal, so come ready to make new friends over incredible food.

Il Troia is open for both lunch and dinner, but reservations are a must, especially for dinner when they only offer two seating times. It’s just around the corner from our recommended hotel and an easy walk from the train station.

Osteria Belle Donne

Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood, Osteria Belle Donne (Via delle Belle Donne 16/r) is a charming spot for a satisfying meal. We fell in love with their pici con carbonara e zucchine, a thick, hand-rolled pasta with pancetta, zucchini, and pecorino cheese.

For your main course, try the simple but flavorful meatballs with tomato sauce or the pork cutlet topped with gorgonzola. The restaurant is just a five-minute walk from our recommended hotel and one street over from the beautiful Santa Maria Novella church.

Budget-Friendly Bites

Da Nerbone

For a quick, cheap, and cheerful lunch, you can’t beat Da Nerbone, a local institution located inside the Mercato Centrale. This lunch counter has been serving up affordable eats since 1872.

The menu features a variety of pastas, sandwiches, and stews, all displayed under a glass case. On our visit, the most popular item seemed to be the roast beef sandwich with sauce, but we were partial to the slices of juicy pork roast on a crispy bread roll.

Seating is limited and there may be a short wait to order, but it’s a great option for a sit-down meal or a lunch on the go.

Mercato Centrale

While you’re at Da Nerbone, take some time to explore the Mercato Centrale, Florence’s bustling central market. Here, you’ll find stalls selling everything from fresh produce and seafood to cured meats, cheeses, olive oil, and baked goods.

It’s the perfect place to pick up supplies for a picnic or just to browse and soak up the lively atmosphere. Don’t miss the biscotti – you’ll find all sorts of flavors and varieties.

Sweet Treats

Bar Perseo

No trip to Italy is complete without indulging in some gelato, and Florence has no shortage of gelaterias. But for some of the best scoops in town, head to Bar Perseo (Piazza della Signoria 16), right in the heart of the city’s historic center.

Some standout flavors include stracciatella, crema buontalenti, banana, and cioccolato fondente. That last one, a super rich dark chocolate, is a must for cocoa lovers but is best paired with a milder flavor like banana. Trust us (and the server who complimented our combo) – it’s a match made in gelato heaven.


Another gelateria worth seeking out is Grom (corner of Via del Campanile and Via delle Oche). This eco-conscious chain focuses on organic, seasonal ingredients to create their artisanal gelato and fruit sorbets.

The flavors change based on what’s fresh, but you really can’t go wrong here. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a high-quality treat made with sustainable practices in mind.

A Comfortable Home Base

Bellevue House

For a clean, comfortable, and affordable place to rest your head, check out Bellevue House (Via delle Scalla 21). Located on the top floor of a former 16th-century convent and palace, the hotel offers reasonably priced rooms with a few extra perks like tea/coffee service and mini-fridges.

The location is super convenient – you’ll be within easy walking distance of the Firenze SMN train station, the SITA bus station, and most of Florence’s top attractions. The friendly staff is happy to help with things like making museum reservations or giving directions.

One important note: the hotel is on the 4th floor and there is no elevator. If you have mobility issues or just don’t want to lug your suitcase up four flights of stairs, contact the hotel when you arrive and they’ll assist with your bags.

Bonus Tips

  • When making a reservation at Trattoria Sostanza (Il Troia), be sure to call a few days in advance as they fill up quickly.
  • Many restaurants in Florence have limited seating and don’t take reservations. Be prepared to wait or share a table with strangers – it’s all part of the experience!
  • If you’re on a budget, consider picking up supplies for a picnic lunch at the Mercato Centrale. You can find everything you need for a tasty meal at a fraction of the cost of eating out.
  • Florence is a very walkable city, so wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to do a lot of exploring on foot. It’s the best way to stumble upon hidden gems and really get a feel for the city.

Eating well is one of the great joys of traveling in Italy, and Florence does not disappoint. From cozy trattorias serving up classic Tuscan dishes to gelaterias scooping artisanal creations, there’s no shortage of delicious experiences to be had.

And with a comfortable, centrally located home base like Bellevue House, you’ll be perfectly positioned to explore all that this enchanting city has to offer. Buon appetito!

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