Rediscovering Florence after a few years between visits was a pleasure full of surprises. If you are a regular reader of Mulberry and Pomegranate, it would come as no surprise to you that I revelled in rediscovering Florence in the cooler months of autumn. Florentine food just screams autumn and winter. After hours of walking, rugged up, around the streets, galleries and architectural masterpieces of Florence, you crave the kind of food to warm you from head to toe and make you feel full - preferably consumed next to a roaring fireplace with a glass of Brunello in hand. In this post, I thought I would share with you a few favourite old classics and new discoveries from the stunning city of Florence.
- for cafe, cornetti and aperitivos
I fell in love with this very retro bar on my first trip to Florence. It might have been the love hearts the barrista created on my early morning latte, but more likely it is my penchant for vintage. I've been told quite frequently that I have an "old soul". I am always smitten with anything that has a charismatic vintage vibe - and Bar Deanna has just that.
Situated in Piazza della Stazione, Bar Deanna started business back in 1957. It has recently been renovated, with a pastry counter and tables added to the ground floor, but a touch of the 1950s still lurks underneath the newly renovated sheen.
Bar Deanna is my Florence landmark, whenever I emerge from Santa Maria Novella Train Station, bleary eyed from train journeys across Europe. It is the place to grab an espresso (90 euro cents) and a scrumptious pastry (cornetto alla crema, 1 euro) before heading to the next door bus station - to catch your bus to Tuscany and beyond. It is also a very hand place to grab an evening aperitif (campari and soda, 2.50 euro) before heading back out of the city. The staff are charmingly dedicated - which I'm sure is the reason why Bar Deanna continues after nearly 57 years in business.
Piazza Stazione, 52/55 Rosso
Open: every day from 4.30 am to 8.00 pm
Ph: +39 055284092
- for a traditional Tuscan lunch
Trattoria Marione is a small, busy little restaurant situated near the Uffizi Gallery, which often has a line out the door - but it is usually a very quick wait. After stopping by a camera store in 2006, the owner recommended Trattoria Marione to us as a place he regularly enjoyed lunch, as did many of his neighbours.
This is the place for winter warmers. The staff are incredibly welcoming and the atmosphere is cosy - this combined with a glass of the good value "Vino della casa" (6 euros per 1/2 litre), will give your face a rosy glow. You will find the handwritten menu posted on the window the trattoria. It includes the traditional ribollita soup, thick with cannellini beans, bread, vegetables and pancetta (6.50 euro) - or if you are a fan of offal you can try the favourite soup of some of the older gentlemen who are trattoria regulars, which features some very gelatinous pigs ears or the tripe specialty. For the less squeamish there is a mouthwatering roasted chicken or pork with rosemary and garlic potatoes (11 euro) - or my absolute favourite, the osso bucco with a huge side of peas and proscuitto (13.50 euro). I first enjoyed this dish back in 2006 and I am happy to report it was just as good 8 years later!
Via della Spada, 27R
Ph: (+39) 055 21 47 56
Open Mon-Sun: 12:00-17:00; 19:00-23.00
- enoteca for wine by the glass or bottle
Zanobini is the epitome of an "old family" establishment, a beautiful wine store and enoteca, it provides a welcome relief if you need some respite from haggling for leather goods at the San Lorenzo market. The brothers who own the store are incredibly knowledgable about the wines on offer and are very friendly - so make sure to ask for their recommendations if you are stopping by to buy a bottle or just a glass. You can join other locals at the bar for the wine of the day, which ranges from 1.50 euro per glass to around 5 euro. If you are self catering, it is a great place to pick up some bottles of wine to bring home and their olive oil is also definitely worth trying.
Via Sant'Antonino 47r
Pitti Gola E Cantina
- wine by the glass and tasty platters
Standing across the piazza from the imposing Medici family home, the Palazzo Pitti, is Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina. You can read more about how I first discovered this gorgeous little wine bar (thanks to Mr K ), whilst on the search for Brunello here. This tiny bar (there are four small tables and some seats at the bar) offers a great range of wines by the glass and even more by the bottle, including an excellent range of Brunellos (around 10 euros per glass). When we visited, the welcoming staff offered small complimentary platters of creamy buffalo mozzarella and juicy, ripe tomatoes. However, should you be looking for something more substantial you can choose from a large range of sharing platters featuring local cheeses, hams and pates or the daily pasta, made fresh on the premises each day.
Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina
Piazza Pitti, 16
Ph: +39 055 212 704
Open: daily 1pm -12am
- For Napoli style pizza
If you have had your fill of Tuscan beans and bistecca Florentine, then head straight to Il Pizzaiolo for traditional Neapolitan style pizza. Located steps from the Sant'Ambrogio market on Via dei Macci, it often has a small crowd waiting outside. Inside, it is all crowded tables and cheesy frescos on the walls, depicting old Naples.
The pizzas are made according to the strict rules governing Neapolitan style pizzas, which range from the ingredients used, to how the dough is handled and the type of wood-burning oven in which the pizza is cooked in. Mr K has long been a devoted disciple of Neapolitan pizza and he happily interrogated our friendly host at Il Pizzaiolo on what some of these rules actually are. The biggest tip, for all Neapolitan pizza lovers is to carefully observe what side of the oven the wood is placed on. It has to be chestnut wood and it has to be placed on the lefthand side of the pizza oven - if it is on the other side, then you are not about to eat a true Neapolitan pizza!
The pizzas at Il Pizzaiolo are authentic Naples-style pizza. We shared a "caprese" that had a high smokey flavoured crust around the edges, but a thin balanced centre oozing with Mozzarella di Bufala and sweet, juicy cherry tomatoes (7 euros) and the good value house red wine (10 euros for 1 litre). If you are obsessed with cheese and have a careless disregard for your cholesterol levels, then you should try the obscenely large burrata (10 euro), which comes with cherry tomatoes and green olives. Burrata is basically a pouch made out of solid buffalo mozzarella filled with scraps of leftover mozzarella and topped off with fresh cream before closing. Il Pizzaiolo offers the biggest burrata I have ever seen (and we had just arrived from Puglia, the home of Burrata). It could have easily fed a table of 6-8. When it arrived on our table, we were shocked. The friendly staff, clearly noticing our shocked faces, kindly bundled up our burrata to take home - and we dined off it for a whole week. However, I did note that a table of local gentlemen, probably in their 60s, happily enjoyed one burrata per 2 "nonnos" as an entree before their hearty main courses.
Via dè Macci, 113
Ph:+39 055 241171
Open - Mon - Sat 12:30-2:30 pm; 7:30 pm - 12:30 am (closed Sunday)
So lovely readers, tell me, do you have a favourite spot old or new in Florence? I would love to know! And by the way......if you enjoyed this post, you might like to visit the new visual index on the Mulberry and Pomegranate Travel and Places page for more stories from around the world.