The Best Florence Street Food and Where to Try It
If food is one of the best expression of a local culture, then surely street food has to be the ultimate. And in Florence, Italy, street food is just that — thousands of years of history, politics, culture, and tradition all wrapped up in small tasty morsels to go.
Surprisingly, street food in Italy isn’t as common as we’ve found in other parts of the world, like southeast Asia, South America, Mexico, or even US cities like New York and LA. But Florence has the food — definitely one the best cities in Italy for food!
Maybe that’s because of the culture that surrounds food in Italy — the long lingering over food, and the hospitality expressed when you both serve food and enjoy it. Italians don’t just take food seriously, they also appreciate the time it takes to enjoy it. Meals often stretch out for hours, especially when dining with friends and family.
It’s far from a fast food event. In fact, the slow food movement originated right here in northern Italy.
So while it may be anathema to Italians to eat food fast, they do enjoy food al passegio — or on the go — and there’s a surprising number of food trucks or carts in the city of Florence where you can find some of the best Florence street food.
Here are 6 of our favorite street foods in Florence to grab between the other meals of the day.
Florence Street Food
1. Lampredotto and Tripe (Trippa)
Definitely not for our Vegan friends, trippa (tripe) is a staple of Italian cuisine and is enjoyed on the go as many good sandwiches are. While trippa is made from the edible lining of the cow stomach, lampredotto is made only from the final part (the fourth stomach) of the cow’s stomach, called the abomasum.
Lampredotto is typical and exclusively unique to Florence, and a fundamental part of the local food culture. It’s generally slow cooked with tomato, onion, and parsley, and often served with schiacciata bread.
Trippa is one of those foods you may be squeamish about eating. Even diehard foodies may have a thing with eating organ meat, or in this case, the lining of the organ meat. If it helps, we can tell you that you’d likely never bat an eye if you ate it and didn’t realize it was tripe.
Because it tastes like a typical meat that’s been stewed for hours. You’ll see lampredotto in restaurants throughout Florence too, but it makes one of the most popular on-the-go sandwiches and mid-afternoon snacks as you stroll the quiet streets or people watch around the tourist center.
Where to Try Lampredotto and Trippa in Florence
Da Nerbone at the Mercato Centrale. Nerbone is on the ground floor (still in its original location), alongside the local butchers, and other shops. You can try the soup or pasta, but they’re known for their simmered meat sandwiches, like the beef brisket and of course the trippa and lampredotto. Plus, you can’t beat the price. It’s a good example of great street food, on the cheap. The lines are always long, but we promise, it’s so worth the wait!
Trippaio del Porcellino (Piazza Del Mercato Nuovo Corner and Via Capaccio) Considered by many Florentines to be the best lampredotto in the city, so that’s the first reason to try it here. The second? They’re right! Located near the Piazza della Signoria, look for the long lines — always a good sign for the best places to eat.
This one shouldn’t come as a surprise, even if you’ve not yet been to Italy. Gelato is as ubiquitous to Italian culture as pasta, pizza, espresso and the Pope. Throughout the day, Italians can be seen with the tiny spatula between their lips, savoring a small cup of gelato on their way to work, to a meeting, home for siesta, after siesta, during work, after work… and so on.
Just like espresso, gelato is a quick and delicious treat that defines Italian culture.
It’s a stark contrast from American culture, where many of us have to give ourselves permission to enjoy a special treat like gelato at certain times of day — ice cream or gelato is only for after a meal or on a Sunday drive. But in a culture that values time well spent, that often includes relaxing and treating yourself as well. Italians have a “No Ansia” philosophy… relax, enjoy yourself. Is it any wonder we love Italy?
To this indulgence, we say, don’t be in such a rush — bring it on!
Two of our Favorite Gelaterias in Florence?
Vivoli (Via Isola delle Stinche, 7r) is the oldest gelateria in Florence and still makes some of the best.
La Strega Nocciola (Via de 'Bardi, 51, in Oltrarno) has some unique and unconventional flavors like lavender, but Stracciatella is one of my fave flavors — and theirs was ahh-mazing!
3. Affogato to Go
If you’re new to this, it’s one of my favorite Italian desserts, and I recently saw it on the street in Florence for the first time! Afogado is the perfect blend of espresso and gelato — all in the same cup!
Typically made with a simple vanilla gelato, a shot of hot espresso is drizzled over top to make the most delicious puddle of warm and cool, coffee and cream.
Considering the coffee culture in Italy, it’s not surprising Afogado is such a simple and sweet ending to a meal. But as a street food? I can’t think of anything better!
This might not be your typical street food, but it’s an imperative must-eat in Florence. Consider it the low carb solution to the panini. All the yummy meats, cheeses, olives, and other goodies, minus the filling bread. You may know the Italian tagliare as charcuterie, and it’s amazing to see how pretty and unique each tagliere will be from one to the next.
Each creator puts their own spin on the ingredients and design but it all starts with good, fresh cured meats like salami and Finnochiona, a Florentine salami made with pieces of fennel. Prosciutto and mortadella (famous and traditional foods of Bologna) are also featured.
Add in some various types of pecorino cheeses (sheep’s milk) made locally in Tuscany, and you have a fabulous tagiere platter as a light snack or in between meals.
Where to Try Tagliere in Florence
Mercato Centrale — you’ll find several excellent stands in the Mercato for tagliere, and lots of beautiful creative presentations. They even occasionally offer classes on making your own tagliere platters at home!
5. Schiacciata farcita
Quite simply, Schiacciata is a flat, foccacia-like bread that you’ll see throughout Firenze and Tuscany. Like any good regional Italian food, it’s a unique variation on local bread that’s used as a vessel to hold meats, cheeses, and other ingredients between two ends, or is stuffed with other ingredients baked right in.
In Florence, Schiacciata farcita (schiacciata all’olio, or with oil), is the popular Florence street food often served plainly in street stalls or with a bit of cheese melted in. You’ll often see a few pieces of salami in with the cheese as well. “Covaccino” is a unique variety of schiacciata that’s seasoned with salt, rosemary and olive oil.
Where to Try Schiacciata:
Amici di Ponte Vecchio has some of the best we’ve tried!
Schiacciata all Fiorentina is different from the flat oily street food Florence is known for. This sweet sponge cake is served during Carnival time around February and March and is often served with powdered sugar or cocoa on top.
Where to Try Schiacciata all Fiorentina during Carnival:
There’s a small pasticceria in Soffiano, just outside of Florence that’s beloved by locals: Pasticceria Giorgio is where to find this sweet treat during Carnival time. It’s worth the bus or cab ride to get there.
In Tuscany, a popular savory / sweet treat around harvest time is Schiacciata con l’uva (with grapes). It’s a great use for grapes in food that pairs nicely with — what else? — a glass of good Tuscan wine.
The famous panino, or Italian pressed sandwich, makes the perfect street food — a few pieces of meat, cheese, or greens stuffed between two slices of bread, Schiacciata farcita, or roll, and you’re off and running.
But like a good Italian pizza or pasta dish, the ingredients added to a panino are designed to flavor the bread, and not the other way around — sort of the antithesis of the piled-high American sandwich.
A panini is designed to be easily eaten with the flavored melded together by whatever binder you use (usually cheese) and a nice, long pressing.
Who Has the Best Panini in Florence?
All’antico Vinaio — this popular shop has sandwiches that are insanely large. While they’re also delicious, you might feel bad asking for them to press your sammie because of the line stretching outside the door. Don’t. They’re so much better when they’re pressed!
Due Sorsi & Un Boccone (Via degli Alfani 105) — this sandwich shop and Creperia was located near our Florence Airbnb and every morning we’d walk by before it was open, wondering what the good smells were that we couldn’t yet see.
One day when we got a late start to our day, we were rewarded with the answer — the paninis here are worth waiting for. The place is casual, and the food is simple. Your panino (or crepe) is built with your choice of 4 ingredients.