Florence is the epicenter of Tuscan cuisine, among the most beloved in Italy and based on ingredients sourced from the lush woods and fertile farmland encircling the city. Sample the region’s heirloom pork and beef, fresh vegetables and legumes, handmade pasta, and extra-virgin olive oil in these must-try dishes.
Most traditional meals in Florence kick off with a plate of crostini, slices of toasted bread spread with favorites such as chicken-liver paté, local cured salami and capocollo, artisan pecorino sheep-milk cheese, cannellini and fava-bean spreads, or simply a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
Pici al Ragù
One of the quintessential fresh pastas in Florence is pici, thick strands of spaghetti-like noodles tossed with a savory sauce. Perhaps the best pairing is ragù made from Cinta Senese, pork from an heirloom breed of pig raised in the hills between Florence and Siena and prized for its flavorful meat.
Italians love a good vegetable soup—minestrone is one of the country’s most ubiquitous culinary exports—and the Florentine version of this hearty crowd-pleaser is ribollita. Made with seasonal vegetables and beans and thickened with a slice of leftover Tuscan bread, this traditional potage is uniquely satisfying.
Bistecca alla Fiorentina
Florentines don’t shy away from meat, and there is nothing meatier than the city’s iconic steak, a slab of heirloom Chianina beef traditionally sliced “four fingers thick” and grilled briefly on each side. This daunting treat is for died-in-the-wool carnivores who don’t shrink from very rare beef.
Not only can a Florentine put away a steak weighing an average of 2 pounds (0.9 kilograms) in one sitting, but the city’s most beloved street food is lampredotto, a sandwich of thinly sliced tripe braised in a savory broth and served with a green sauce (parsley, hard-boiled egg, and capers) or a spicy tomato sauce. Grab a sandwich from one of the city’s street vendors if you’re feeling adventurous.
Schiacciata alla Fiorentina
Originally served during Carnival, this soft sponge cake is dusted with powdered sugar and finished with a large fleur-de-lis stenciled in cocoa powder on top to symbolize the city. Today the rectangular dessert can be enjoyed all year round, and updated versions include a layer of custard or whipped cream in the middle.