Tuscan wine and Florentine steak may be two of Florence’s most coveted gastronomic offerings, but the Renaissance city is also home to some delectable (and grossly underrated) street food. 

The Tuscan capital proves to be stiff competition for other Italian cities of Rome and Milan, thanks to specialties like coccoli and schiacciata farcita. Here, I’ll give you the low-down on the highlights from the Florence street food scene, with some favorites I’ve included in my small-group Florence food tours.

Schiacciata Farcita

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Giving just one dish the title of the best street food in Florence is challenging, but it’s hard to argue against the delight that is schiacciata farcita. Similar to foccocia, schiacciata farcita is its thinner, more airy counterpart.

Like many great foods in Italy, schiacciata farcita has rather humble origins that many are unaware of. It was initially popular amongst peasants, who combined their flattened leftover bread with olive oil, only to find it was incredibly tasty. 

Nowadays, schiacciata farcita can be served plain, but like many others, I tend to enjoy this bread as part of a sandwich. Cold cuts, cheese, and homemade sauces are among the most common fillings if you want to add some extra flavor.

Where To Eat It?

This bread is found in just about every bakery in the city, but I don’t think it gets any better than the schiacciata farcita at All’Antico Vinaio. It lies just around the corner from Palazzo Vecchio and is instantly recognizable due to the lengthy queues forming outside each day.

For such a compact store, the menu is anything but that. The option I always go for is the prosciutto and pecorino sandwich

The prosciutto that comes with it has a strong, sweet, and salty flavor, while the semi-aged pecorino is quite tangy, which mixes well with wheaty flavors from the dough.

It’s always served with peppery rockets and doused in an intense, creamy truffle sauce with earthy, garlicky notes. 

All’Antico Vinaio (€)Q794+9X Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy, Every day 10:00 am to 10:00 pm

Coccoli

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Coccoli translates to cuddles in English, which should give you a pretty clear indication of how delightful these fried dough balls are. Prepared as either a snack or a dessert, coccoli can be stuffed with savory or sugary components.

Similar to schiacciata farcita, coccoli came about when locals got creative with their leftovers. Florentines are believed to have cooked their remaining bread in hot oil, and the results were so comforting that the name coccoli was born.

As fond as I am of the confectionary-style varieties, sausage and cheese-stuffed coccoli are usually my first choice.

Where To Eat It?

If you feel a little peckish and find yourself exploring the areas around the Florence Duomo or Piazza del Mercato Nuovo, make your way over to Da’ Vinattieri. 

This no-frills spot is quaint and charming, and they offer coccoli, among other quick bites, in a plethora of flavors. As soon as I sampled the fluffy texture of the dough to the juicy and aromatic pork sausage, I knew picking up a handful of these fried puffs was the right idea.

When they came out at first, my mind immediately told me they looked exactly like arancini. However, the taste was quite different, between the sweet and salty elements from the sausage and the batter that they’re cooked in, which is a little lighter.

Da’ Vinattieri (€) Via Santa Margherita, 4/6r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy, Every day, 11:30 am to 6:30 pm

Gelato

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After pizza and pasta, gelato is Italy’s most treasured culinary creation. Despite having its roots in Sicily, it was the people of Florence who crafted this flavorful ice cream into what it is today.

Bernardo Buontalenti was a Florentine artist who is believed to have invented gelato as we know it. In the 16th century, his combination of milk, cream, sugar, and eggs was a hit with the city’s upper-class residents, and gelato has been a desirable dessert ever since.

Unlike traditional ice cream, gelato is much thicker and smoother in consistency and churned much slower, meaning less air gets inside. However, the two are similar in that they come in various mouthwatering flavors.

Where To Eat It?

I’ll be honest in saying that it’s rather difficult to find poorly made gelato in Florence. That being said, there are a few shops that whip up a particularly appetizing take on this frozen treat, such as Gelateria dei Neri in Santa Croce.

This buzzing gelateria is famous for its unique flavors, and I always go for its ricotta and fig concoction. Somehow, the rich ricotta and berry-like fig came together to create gelato that tastes similar to caramel but without too much sweetness. 

The little green tub that the gelato is served in was empty less than two minutes after I was finished with it; that’s how good this was. Creamy and oh-so-luscious; every time I talk about the ricotta and fig gelato, I want to go back for more/

Gelateria dei Neri (€€) Via dei Neri, 9/11R, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy, Closed Tuesday, Wednesday to Monday, 10:30 am to 12:00 am

Lampredotto 

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If you’re a first-time visitor to Florence and a passionate foodie, there’s a good chance that lampredotto is already on your must-try list. A Florence street food staple, lampredotto is the lining of a cow’s fourth stomach, giving it a few more specific requirements than traditional tripe.

Typically served in sandwich form today, lampredotto dates back centuries to when poorer Florentines would opt for cow stomach instead of expensive cuts of beef. The name is thought to have derived from the Italian name for lamprey eels, whose shape the tripe resembles.

These days, the stomach lining is slow-cooked with ingredients like tomatoes, parsley, and onion until tender and served inside a crunchy bread roll. It might not sound too appealing, but trust me on this one!

Where To Eat It?

While there are some fantastic stalls at the likes of Mercato Centrale and Piazza della Signoria, Santa Croce’s Sergio Pollini Lampredotto remains my top spot for drool-worthy lampredotto.

If you’re a newbie who wants to try lampredotto, fear not; the guys who work here are extremely knowledgeable about the specialty. I chatted with them before I ordered anything, and they explained everything, from the type of sauce to how they cook the tripe.

Made with precision and expertise, you can bet the lampredotto at this acclaimed food cart is the best of the best. It’s dished with pepper sauce and a toasted bread bun. If you’re not interested in trying the sauce, you can ask them to serve it without it; they won’t mind or be offended.

Although considered a less favorable cut, this meat had a wonderful gamey flavor with succulent juices that were complemented by the soft dough from the bread and spiciness from the creamy pepper sauce.

Sergio Pollini Lampredotto (€)Via dei Macci, 126, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy, Every day, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm

Pizza Al Taglio

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Florence isn’t quite as famed for its pizza as its southern neighbor of Naples, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find delicious slices throughout the city. Pizza al taglio, a foccacia-style variety, is especially popular for a lunchtime snack.

This take on pizza is synonymous with the Romans and has been around since the 1950s. Over time, it began to travel north to Florence. It’s been a failsafe street food dish for some time now and is one that I become more enamored with each time I visit.

Served by the slice on thick dough, this pizza can be teamed with all the classic toppings like cheese, meat, and vegetables.

Where To Eat It?

Ask any local about where to find the finest pizza al taglio, and they’ll likely point you in the direction of Gustarium, situated five minutes from Ponte Vecchio

I’ve yet to see this simple pizza shop when it’s not packed with customers, even mid-week, the place does be hopping, which is a reflection of the quality of their fare.

While there’s a great variety available, these guys serve a mean mushroom and onion-topped pizza al taglio that I recommend anyone who comes here to try.

The tangy onions and earthy mushrooms tasted superbly with the milky mozzarella and gently acidic tomatoes. However, it was the mix of crispy, chewy, and juicy textures from the sauce mixed with the dough that quickly made me a returning customer.

Gustarium (€) Via dei Cimatori, 24r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy, Tuesday to Sunday, 12:00 pm to 3:30 pm

Conclusion

Though it’s yet to get the credit it deserves, Florence street food is slowly on the rise, and it’s only going to get as popular as the likes of Rome.

When you need a midday snack or a satisfying but snappy grab-and-go treat, you’re sure to find something to your liking along the enchanting streets of Florence, whether it’s lampredotto or schiacciata farcita.



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