Tuscany’s largest city might be well known for its bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine steak), and it is a city of many meat lovers, but don’t let that fool you into thinking Florence is short on vegan options. In fact, we’re here to tell you that eating vegan in this city is much easier than you might have thought. From cafes and restaurants, to vegan-friendly local fare, here’s our local guide Linda’s tips for being vegan in Florence.
Ribolita: This simple yet hearty dish is made with white cannellini beans, kale, cabbage, carrots, celery, extra virgin olive oil, and stale Tuscan bread. The term “ribolita” means re-boiled, and in a typical Tuscan kitchen farmers would have a large pot over the fireplace that old bread and vegetables were thrown into. Every Friday the ribolita soup was prepared and served with a drizzle of olive oil.
Pasta e Fagioli: Made with short pasta, cannelloni beans, garlic, sage, rosemary, salt, and pepper, this filling pasta is typically served during the winter for lunch. The dish originates from the country side of Tuscany when farmers needed hearty meals to continue their work in the afternoon, and where meat was scarce.
Peasant’s artichoke: This is a typical Florentine artichoke dish called mamme, wherein the artichokes are sliced up and sautéed in a pan with garlic, nettle, tinned tomato, parsley, olive oil, salt, and pepper. This is typically served as a side dish or starter.
The beauty of Italian cuisine is that you can go to most restaurants and find a selection of vegan foods as the base of what we cook with is 100 percent extra virgin olive oil (versus butter). Here are a few favourites that specialise in vegan foods.
Ristorante Quinoa: Known for its gluten-free fare, Ristorante Quinoa isn’t a vegan restaurant, but they are a good spot to go for creative vegan options and dishes that take full advantage of Florence’s abundance of amazing local produce. There are two locations in the city.
Konnubio: This stylish spot offers typical seasonal plates with a contemporary twist, and chef Beatrice Segoni is one of the most celebrated chefs in Florence. Her vegan offerings are truly special, and she is the absolute best with seitan (a meat substitute). They’re also known for excellent cocktails.
La Pepiniere: One of the best organic, vegetarian restaurants you can find in the city, this spot has plenty of vegan options to keep you satisfied. Their veggie and grain-packed Buddha bowls are superb and pizzas can be made with vegan cheese.
L’Ov Osteria Vegetariana: ‘Love’ is the perfect word to describe this wonderful restaurant, featuring a wide selection of seasonal selections that are a taste sensation. Dishes here are as pretty to look at as they are to eat. Open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday, and lunch Monday to Saturday.
Ruth’s Kosher Jewish Restaurant: Supervised by the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Florence, this restaurant is situated just next door to the Great Synagogue, one of the most beautiful in Europe. You can choose from a selection of delicious vegetable dishes and be sure to try their amazing humus
#RAW: You even find vegan gelato at this amazing treasure situated in the Oltrarno area of Florence. Raw is a 100 percent vegan restaurant, mostly raw, and using organic and unprocessed ingredients. Everything is made fresh from scratch. Be sure to try their incredible salads and wraps, as well as their cold pressed juices and smoothies.
Pasticceria Gualtieri since 1933: This incredible shop serves up homemade fresh pastries and has been preparing vegan delights for over 80 years. The second generation owner, Riccardo Gualtieri, turned his attention to vegetarian, organic and vegan desserts. His chocolate cakes, biscuits, and brioche are all vegan, made without egg or milk, and taste simply amazing.
The Vegetarian and Vegan by Marcella Bianchi: Located within the city’s foodie haven of Mercato Centrale, this spot uses organic, seasonal ingredients often sourced in Tuscany. Choose from a variety of salads, meat-free burgers, smoothies, juices, and more.
Universo Vegano: This is a great stop for breakfast (try the delicious vegan smoothies and brioche), vegan pizzas, pastas, salads, and more.
Sbrino – Gelatificio Contadino Craving gelato? This palace has a selection of nine vegan flavours made fresh daily. We highly recommend the bergamot with Modenese chocolate – you won’t be disappointed! (Via dei Serragli 32r)
If you’re on the hunt for vegan products and healthy items during the stay in Florence, you have a few options to choose from.
Natura Si: This supermarket is dedicated to vegan and organic produce with several locations in the city.
Un Ramerino: This is a macrobiotic market with a great variety of vegan products including to-go hot food, vegan clothing, and more
Velona’s Jungle: While not a store, this vegan friendly boutique hotel offers four stylish, well-appointed rooms and also happens to serve up some delicious vegan breakfast options and snacks.