A Vegetarian’s Eating Guide to Italy: Where to eat in Florence / Firenze

Florence, or Firenze, is one of the most beautiful places in Italy. We spent five days soaking in the sights and sounds of Florence, and it was an experience like no other. The city is lost in time, with antique buildings, palazzos and cathedrals. Every nook and corner has a museum, and you will be busy for days exploring this city. The farmers’ markets selling fresh produce, the music-filled evenings on Ponte Vecchio, the leather shops dotting the streets, the art galleries and museums, the historic architecture – all make you feel like you have stepped into another era altogether 🙂

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Pic credit: Balaji M

The people are really friendly, the cobblestone streets are beautiful, and the food is to die for! Some of the best vegetarian food I had in Italy was during my stay in Florence. With some research and planning, I found that it was really not that difficult to find good vegetarian restaurants in Florence. In fact, despite being steeped in history, Florence has some of the most modern cafes and restaurants that serve delicious, contemporary and vegetarian Italian food.

Disclaimer: This is by no means an exhaustive list, and is only a compilation of really good vegetarian restaurants (IMHO) that I ate at during my trip to Florence.

  • Brac

Brac is hands down the best vegetarian food I had during my trip to Florence, and easily among the top three I visited during the course of my Italian holiday. We ended up visiting here thrice during our stay in Florence. The food is fresh and delicious, while also being budget friendly due to their ‘piatto unico’ (single plate) meal concept. You can have a salad, a first course (a baked dish) and second course (rice or pasta) for 15 euros. So for two people, together with the bread, drinks, coperto (table charges), and tips, you can expect to pay about 28-30 euro.

Libreria Brac

Picture courtesy: Libreria Brac

The service is friendly, decor is very upbeat, and the ambience is casual. They also have bar seating, since they usually run out of tables during rush hour. It is located in an alleyway close to the Museo Galileo, and is marked by a very inconspicuous doorway. It does not have any hoardings or name boards advertising its presence. Use your GPS!

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Clockwise from top: Carlofortina (salad with steamed green beans, potatoes and cherry tomatoes), Spaghetti Pomodoro, Milefoglie (with sun-dried tomatoes and Italian cream cheese)

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Clockwise from top: Basmati rice with fresh seasonal veggies; Mediterranean salad (with fresh tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese and salt greens); sweet potatoes and caramelised onion

 

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Spaghettini Pomodoro e Basilico

 

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Clockwise from top: Milefoglie (Pane carasu with baked potato and smoked cheese); Fresh pasta in sweet n sour sauce (with carrots and celery); beetroot salad (tzatziki dressing & micro herbs)

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Clockwise from top: Tagliatelle with zucchini, cheese and lemon sauce with olive oil; carlofortina salad; milefoglie (with sun-dried tomatoes and Italian cream cheese)

Website: http://www.libreriabrac.net

  • L’OV Osteria Vegetariana

We reached L’ov on our first day in Florence, after checking into our Airbnb, and unpacking all of our stuff. It was about 3:30 pm, which is siesta time. Most restaurants in Italy (apart from all day bistros and cafes) mostly shut after 2:30 pm, so there were hardly any options to grab a bite. L’ov were closed as well, but we walked in anyway and  were greeted by the chef who asked us if we were starving. When we said yes, he immediately beckoned us in and fixed us up with the most delicious veggie dishes! 🙂 He was super sweet and went out of his way to make sure we were comfortable. Just for this alone, L’ov is fantastic. They have a wonderful menu, and their portion sizes are generous. They also have purely vegan dishes on their menu, so its a great place for vegans as well.

Picture courtesy: L’ov website

It cost us about 35 euro for two people all inclusive (1 appetiser and 2 mains). If you order dessert and a drink as well, it might touch 45-50 euro. Either way, don’t miss this place when you’re in Florence! 🙂

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Assorted bread and breadsticks (grissini)

 

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Vegetable raw rolls with sweet and sour sauce and peanuts (This was AMAZING!)

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Eggplant parmigiana with buffalo (lactose free)

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‘The festive garden’ – round zucchini filled with wild rice and aromatic herbs served with Florentine friggitelli

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Ravioli filled with goat ricotta and field herbs with fake Tuscan sauce

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Asparagus Lasagna

Website:http://www.osteriavegetariana.it/

  • 5 e Cinque

This restaurant with plenty of veggie options is located really close to Ponte Vecchio, in a piazza bustling with activity. Its quite easy to find, and also quite affordable. It is open for lunch and dinner, and we visited for dinner one evening. The restaurant is small and gets full pretty soon, so plan to get there early, or make reservations in advance, so that you are not left waiting to be seated. We were pretty famished that evening so I didn’t get many pictures of the food; luckily I snapped a picture of their Pizzata. It costs about 20 to 30 euro per person, depending on how much you order. Portion sizes are big and you can share.

Picture courtesy: 5 e cinque website

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Pizzata

Website: http://5ecinque.it

Like I said earlier, download the ‘Happy Cow’ app for easy navigation to veg restaurants. It really helps. Now, for dessert. GELATO! 😀

  • Venchi

This is a boutique chocolate and gelato shop located just a few steps away from Piazza della Signoria and Ponte Vecchio. The ‘cioccogelateria’  is spread over two floors and sits in the middle of Florence’s busy central area, which makes it a perfect stop for tourists looking for an Italian-style gelato or chocolate on the go. They have seating on the second floor as well. You can find Venchi stalls in railways stations, busy central areas, and most shopping districts in Italy. This place is great to pick up chocolate gifts as well. They make some of the creamiest and tastiest gelato, using all natural ingredients. We ate gelato at Venchi whenever we could ! 😀

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Tiramisu, Raspberry Sorbet (it was DELICIOUS)

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A closeup of the Tiramisu and Raspberry Sorbet

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Left: Pastry cream or crema (top) and Milk (bottom) ; Right: Tiramisu (top), Chocolate (bottom)

Website: https://www.venchi.com/

 

  • Vivoli

Vivoli is a really famous, family-owned gelateria operating in Florence since the 1930’s. They make homemade ice-creams with the highest quality of ingredients, like 100% Italian whole milk and pasteurized fresh cream and fresh seasonal fruit. They do not use any type of additives, preservatives, emulsifiers or dyes in their gelato. They also serve a wide range of pastries, semifreddo (frozen dessert) and affogato.

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Picture courtesy: Reid’s Italy

There’s usually a long line here waiting to get their hands on Vivoli’s gelato, and I promise that its TOTALLY worth the wait! I had their chocolate (cioccolato) gelato, and it was so rich, thick and velvety in texture, all with the beautiful fragrance and luxurious taste of chocolate. I cannot describe this in words adequately! In short, GO TO VIVOLI !

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Cioccolato (Chocolate)

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Left: Capuccino; Right: Limone (lemon)

Website: http://vivoli.it/en/home-2/

  • Shake Cafe

This is a nice place right opposite the Santa Maria Novella church. On a really hot day, around 4 pm, we were looking for something cool and refreshing when we stumbled upon Shake Cafe. This is a juice and smoothie bar, where you are allowed to create custom juice blends for yourself. You can get the best fresh pressed juices, smoothies, coffees, breakfast or a quick and healthy lunch – of course with vegetarian and vegan options. They also have gelato, which is fantastic in taste and also reasonably priced.

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Website: http://www.shakecafe.bio/#home

How’s that for decent vegetarian eating options in Florence?? Next, we explore Rome 🙂

Stay tuned!

 

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