If you visit one place in Italy for the food, make it Florence

It’s not hard to see why Florence is a fav destination for many. The place is romantic, filled with history and culture, and also serves up some of Italy’s best food. But you can all too easily fall into the trap of overspending on sub-standard fare if you stick to the haunts around the Piazza del Duomo. Instead, join the locals here:

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Florence offers an abundance of deliciousness.

Mario’s

Only open for lunch, this small restaurant offers mouth-watering and satisfying meals that’ll have you salivating for days. Arrive at 11.45am so you can get a table and peruse the menu outside. You can practice your patchy Italian here but all you pretty much need to know is that you’ll get the ravioli and ribollita for starters. And then choose your meat options for the main – a large, juicy, salt-and-butter crusted pork chop, or if you dare, share the city’s famed T-bone steak between two. Order a side, throw in a glass of Chianti for a few euros and that’s your breakfast, lunch and dinner sorted.

italian subway

Florence’s Subway.

All’Antico Vinaio

Florence’s answer to Subway but about 10 times better. Be prepared for a fast-moving line and know what you want. Choose from the list, or create your own such as prosciutto, sheep’s cheese, eggplant, tomato and tapenade. Squished between slides of warm crusty focaccia bread, these 5 Euro babies will keep you full for hours. Best eaten with a bottle of Chianti poured into plastic cups sitting in the gutter – or for somewhere more classy, take away down to the River Arno.

Central Market

You really could eat every meal here. From 10am start the day with an espresso and a sweet flaky (and cheap!) Italian pastry. Then buy the makings of a picnic lunch – but be warned it may take you a few hours to peruse all the cheese on offer. Add some prosciutto, tomato tasting tomatoes, blood red oranges and some biscotti for afterwards. Still hungry later on? Head upstairs to the large food court with offerings such as fried and grilled seafood, burgers, more T-bone steak, pasta, pizza, and so much more. Grab a beverage from one of the bars and happily feed your face while you people watch.

Vivoli

You can’t visit Italy and not eat gelato. There’s no shortage of gelatarias in Florence, full of mouth-watering mounds of gelato but why not go to the best and original? It’s worth seeking out for the pear and cameral, bacio, mango… well pretty much every flavour under the hot Tuscan sun.

Where have you eaten in Florence? Any recommendations?