My blog is all over the place these days. I’m trying to mix it up and write what excites me. Apologies in advance for jumping around so much. (It’s my blog, I do what I want!)
Let’s talk about food in Florence again. One of my friends just got back from Florence, and I sent her all the recommendations before her trip. Y’all. The best panini in Florence is not at a viral panini stand that is taking up more and more real estate on via dei Neri. It’s not at the viral panini stand that is taking up space in the heart of Rome. And, it’s not the viral panini that is crossing the Atlantic and hanging out in New York and Los Angeles. Those paninis, while fine (I guess), are not even close to the best sandwiches in Florence. Please go somewhere else.
The amount of time I spend thinking about this Florentine street food is a little ridiculous. These famous Italian sandwiches changed the way I think about sandwiches. Every so often, on one of our many trips to Florence, we spend a day panini hopping around Florence. It’s always one of my favorite days because it’s a reminder that you can have really GREAT and fresh food for under 10 euros for a sandwich and a glass of wine… something that is impossible to do at home. And, isn’ that one of the best parts of travel? Doing something you absolutely cannot do at home? It is for me.
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Via S. Gallo, 3r, 50129 Firenze FI, Italy (near the Accademia)
I have to be honest. It’s a tie for me when I try to choose the best sandwich in Florence. Sandwichic is one of my two favorite places in Florence. It’s the perfect place to grab a quick and easy lunch after visiting Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia museum. When we stayed at the Arte Boutique Hotel, we would bring these paninis back to our room for lunch. They offer lunch specials for students studying abroad, so it can get really busy.
Sandwichic offers an extensive menu of recommendations, located on a board outside the store, but are also happy to make recommendations based on your personal tastes. (It’s easier to do this if they aren’t busy.) I love a traditional schiacciata with finocchiona (the traditional Florentine fennel salami) and a young pecorino cheese. However, I also love a sandwich with prosciutto, aged Parmesean, and balsamic vinegar. Anything with their truffle cream is incredible. (We bought a jar to bring home as a souvenir.) If you’re feeling adventurous, I had an incredible panini with sbriciolona, pear, pecorino, and cinnamon during my birthday weekend in Florence. It was different and delicious. It’s really fun to try the sandwiches they come up with, so don’t limit yourself to what you know!
A sandwich and a glass of the house wine will set you back about 8 euro at Sandwichic.
Piazza del Duomo, 34/R, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy (near the Duomo)
I have to be honest. Given its location in the heart of the city center, I thought Panini Toscani would be a tourist trap. It’s two blocks away from the apartment that I lived in when I studied abroad (which is now a B&B with the best location in Florence), and if I had known about it, I probably would have started eating sandwiches earlier in my life.
But, I digress. Panini Toscani is a tiny sandwich shop with a few options and the kindest owner who will let you taste the different meats and cheeses. I’ve never had a bad combination here. Panini Toscani is what taught me to love a warm panino, too.
I love their olive focaccia bread and adding sun-dried tomatoes to my sandwich of choice. These sandwiches are a bit smaller than Sandwichic, and they are slightly more expensive at 6 euro – but the tables outside offer a lovely view that would command higher prices, if it was a tourist trap. (It’s not.)
Their wine selection is small but mighty. I love their Brunello di Montalcino option. Tom and I like to get two different wines to see which one pairs better with our sandwiches of the moment.
La Davina Enoteca
Via Panicale, 19/red, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy (behind Mercato Centrale)
Speaking of wine, if you want to have a truly incredible wine experience alongside your panini, head to La Davina. This wine bar, located behind Florence’s Central Market, offers a master sommelier, Livio, and a robust menu of paninis and fresh tagliere platters of local meat and cheeses. Unlike the above panino shops, La Davina offers more seating – both inside and outside. He offers an extensive selection of wines by the bottle and the prices are far better than at the wine shops in the market.
When choosing a wine and a panini, I suggest asking Livio for recommendations before ordering. He introduced us to Bolgheri wines with a spicy salami panini, and Tom still talks about it. We also really enjoy Bolgheri wines now. They are a good introduction to more affordable super Tuscan wines, though you can find some very expensive ones, too. I’m looking forward to staying at a wine resort in this part of Tuscany now.
‘Ino Panino Firenze
Via dei Georgofili, 3r/7r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy (near the Uffizi Gallery and the Ponte Vecchio)
If you are looking for a sandwich shop with plenty of indoor seating, ‘Ino is probably your best bet. I found out about ‘Ino from one of our tour guides, and I do enjoy it. However, it is a bit more expensive than some of the other options I’ve suggested with the average panini costing 8-9 euro.
Because of its location, ‘Ino gets REALLY busy. There is a small menu on the wall when you walk in, and sometimes they will hand out copies of the menu. This is not the place to be indecisive or ask a lot of questions. They are trying to be efficient, and when it’s busy, ‘Ino can be overwhelming and a bit intimidating.
When we were staying at the Gallery Hotel Art, Tom would get a panini to go from ‘Ino and bring it back to our room. The ingredients are very fresh and very tasty. Like Sandwichic, everything is freshly cut when you order it. This is a great place to grab a quick lunch before a tour of the Uffizi Museum.
Il Due Fratellini
Via dei Cimatori, 38/r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy (near Piazza della Signoria and the Ponte Vecchio)
Also near the Gallery Hotel Art is Il Fratellini, the oldest panini shop in Florence. There is limited seating near Il Fratellini, so you’ll get your panini and take it to go. Personally, my favorite sandwich here is the wild boar salami and the truffle pecorino. Their truffle cheese is superior to all the truffle cheeses I’ve tried at other sandwich shops.
There is often a line at this panini stand, but they will take their time with you. When we took my husband’s parents to Florence, Il Fratellini was their favorite panini that they tried. We each ordered a different panini and took them back to our suite at the Gallery Hotel Art for everyone to try. It was a fun lunch after a full morning of sightseeing in Florence.
This is a more economical option not far from ‘Ino if you’re trying to enjoy Florence on a budget. The menu is more limited, but they do have some of the most popular panini sandwiches at a great price point.
Via dei Cimatori, 23, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy (near Ponte Vecchio and Piazza della SIgnoria)
If you aren’t staying nearby and you don’t want to eat standing up, head to I’Girone de’ Ghiotti, just a few steps down from Il Due Fratellini and on the opposite side of the street. Girone has a small bar for seating downstairs and a few more tables upstairs. In addition to panini, they also offer charcuterie boards and a gourmet grocery store, perfect for picnic supplies. There is not a lot of room to look around though, so it can be a bit overwhelming when it’s busy.
As far as paninis go, I love the spicy salumi with sun-dried tomatoes. You don’t have to eat inside. A lot of people will order their panini to go and wait for it outside. If you see a line, ask to ensure people are in line and not just waiting for their panini. I’ve been tricked before!
Via Santa Margherita, 4/6r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy (in between Piazza delle Signoria and the Duomo)
If you want a slightly more authentic experience, or if you want to try Florence’s famous lampredotto sandwich, you can find Da’ Tinattieri on a quiet side street. Easily recognizable by the lampredotto window, the line, or the smell of truffle cream, Da’ Vinattieri is between the Palazzo Vecchio and the Duomo. For something unique I love their olive pate. Their spicy salami is also very tasty.
There is nowhere to sit, so you’ll have to take your panini to go and eat standing up. These panino are on the smaller side, but at 4 euro, you can’t beat it for an cheap and easy meal in Florence.
Antico Salumificio Anzuini
Via dei Neri, 82r/84r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Often blocked by the ridiculously long lines of All’Antico Vinaio is one of my favorite panini stores, Anzuini. This two-part shop offers a panini shop, as well as market that offers fresh salumi, meats, and cheeses. They offer fresh products, as well as products that are vacuum-sealed for taking home. (In the US, you can bring cheese home. You cannot bring the meats home.)
The people who work here are so very kind and patient. They offer a variety of local products that are very reasonably priced. We extended our stay in Florence for another 5 days in early January, we headed to Anzuini to pick up a variety of meats to make our own panini. When they figured out what we were doing, they included some of the best panini bread that we’ve ever had. (It lasted longer than the stuff we bought at the grocery store, too.)
While it can be frustrating to fight through the crowds of people waiting in line for THAT viral panini, it’s worth it to visit this traditional norcineria to try their fresh and flavorful products. You’ll never see a line here, but I promise you it’s worth a visit – and you’ll have your panini (or panini ingredients) while the rest of them are still waiting in line at one of the many locations of Antico Vinaio on via dei Neri.
I Raddi Santo Spirito
Via dei Michelozzi, 19, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy (near Santo Spirito in the Oltrarno)
It’s no secret that I love i Raddi for its simple Tuscan fare. We learned about it from a tour guide, went back on a food tour of the Oltrarno, and usually find ourselves there on our first afternoon in Florence. This counter service restaurant has a small indoor dining area, as well as a few table outside.
In addition to some of my favorite Tuscan dishes like pappa al pomodoro and prosciutto and coccoli, i Raddi also offers a small menu of panini. They offer a number of small traditional panini, but they also offer a fresh lampredotto if you’re feeling adventurous.
Via de’ Tornabuoni, 64R, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy (near Palazzo Strozzi and Piazza della Repubblica)
I kind of feel like it’s cheating to include Procacci on this list, but if you want a truffle panini in Florence, you should come to Procacci. We discovered this wine bar and its panini on my birthday weekend in Florence, and two things happened.
One, we fell in love with this particular Barolo wine. When we returned to the US, we found it in various vintage years to create a vertical tasting. I’m not sure which occasion we are saving that experience for, but Prunotto is a great Barolo at a fair price point. (It was very fairly priced at Procacci.)
Two, the Barolo paired perfectly with their small truffle panino sandwiches. These simple panini allow you to really taste the truffle flavor. Piedmont is known for both truffles and Barolo, so this pairing makes perfect sense, especially for an afternoon snack.
A Few Tips for Eating in Florence
One of the things I love about Florence is that you do not have to spend a lot money to have a really great meal. It is entirely possible to eat well without breaking the bank. While I love a good splurge restaurant in Florence, I love a moderate trattoria or osteria as well. If you want to have a great meal in Florence, beyond the panini shops listed on the post, here is some advice from someone who spends a couple weeks per year in Florence.
- If a restaurant offers reservations, you probably need them. Most of my favorite restaurants in Florence don’t offer reservations online. You will have to call to get them. It’s worth it. If you can’t do it, ask your hotel concierge to help. You will be disappointed if you don’t get reservations.
- Try to avoid restaurants with extensive printed menus and menus with pictures. Bonus points for small, handwritten menus that are usually posted outside the restaurant. Don’t be afraid to ask about what is in season or what the waiter might recommend. Would I have tried a duck pasta on my own? Probably not. Is it something I would order in the US? Probably not. Is it one of my favorite dishes at a small restaurant in Florence? Absolutely yes.
- Skip the places where they are aggressively trying to recruit you into the restaurant. I’ve noticed less and less of this in Florence, but it does happen on some of the popular squares. (I love Gilli for dessert if you’re going for the main square ambiance in Florence.)
- Don’t be afraid of the second seating, which usually starts around 9:00 or 9:30pm. We’ve had some very fun experiences by having a late dinner. You’re more likely to encounter locals at the later seating, but I will absolutely take an early seating to ensure that I get to enjoy my favorite restaurants in Florence.
- Looking for the best gelato in Florence? Avoid the brightly colored mounds of gelato and head to the places that store it in small tins. Sometimes they run out of flavors, but at least you know it was probably made fresh.