With so many coffee shops and local marts everywhere you look in Florence, its difficult sometimes to weed out the good from the great. Either because of the quality of the goods, the ambience, or just the comfort of knowing they’ll always be there for me, some stores stand out to me for being an important part of my experience here in Florence. Of course there are many incredible stores here, but these are just some of the highlights!
1. Ditta Artigianale
Florence is filled with coffee shops, called Caffè or Bar, where you can stand at the coffee bar for a quick pick-me-up or find a seat at a table to relax and enjoy your coffee and pastry. A cool modern bar with an eclectic vibe and comfy seating is Ditta Artigianale. In addition to your classic coffees and pastries, they offer all kinds of croissant sandwiches and brunch items, like pancakes and scrambled eggs. My favorite is the simple but delicious cornetto (croissant) with crema di pistacchio.
Conad is the biggest supermarket chain in Florence, and locations can be found throughout the city. In my article 10 Things Every Traveler Should know about Florence, I talk a bit about grocery shopping in Italy vs in the states, and Conad is the main supermarket that I go to! You can find almost all of your grocery needs here, from produce, to bakery goods, dry and fresh pasta, dairy, and wine! While its nice to occasionally buy produce or artisanal cheese from an open air market, its comforting to know that Conad is always there for you.
How do I even explain Tiger. Tiger is like a 99 cent store but better quality, with stationary, art supplies, kitchen supplies, cosmetic goods, accessories, snacks, and more! Originally from Copenhagen, this variety store has spread throughout Europe and has surprisingly adorable and useful finds.
4. Gusta Pizza
In Italy, there are two main styles of pizza: Napoli style pizza, which is the classic thin crust, round pizza, and Sicilian or Roman style pizza, which is thick, bready, and comes cut in rectangles. While both are prevalent throughout Florence, a prefer a good thin, crunchy, saucy, and dripping pizza, and Gusta Pizza delivers on all of the above. This popular pizza joint is always crowded with locals and tourists alike.
5. Gelateria Santa Trinita and La Carraia
Gelaterie, or gelato stores, can be found on almost every street, and make the perfect refreshing and sweet treat. But be careful! Many low quality gelato places like to lure in their customers with their gelato piled high and garnished with tons of fruits and decorations; they also color their gelato with bright colors. One flavor to especially watch out for in order to tell the quality of the gelateria is pistacchio, as the lower quality stores will have a bright green gelato, while those with fresher and better quality ice creams will have a more neutral, natural green. Most of these you cannot go wrong with, but two of my favorite stores are Gelateria Santa Trinita and Gelateria La Carraia, both right next to the Arno River. The both have delicious and interesting flavor options, and their gelato quality is top notch.
6. The Diner
For American study abroad students or expatriates living in Florence, you sometimes get a craving for American food. This American style Diner has everything you might need from breakfast foods to burgers, chicken tenders, pulled pork, tomato soup and grilled cheese, milkshakes, and more!
7. Gino’s Bakery
Right across Ponte Vecchio towards the Duomo is Gino’s Bakery, with all kinds of cookies, pastries, breads, and even pizzas to tempt your taste buds. However, the reason why I have added them to this list isn’t for any of those but because of their canoli! I still hold that they have the best canoli in the city, with a crunchy and fresh shell, soft, light and creamy filling, and multiple flavors to choose from (traditional ricotta, chocolate, and pistacchio).
I hope that if you come to Florence, you check out all of these places, as well as explore shops and restaurants of your own!