Italy—Tuscany

Florence

Olio & Convivium, Via Santo Spirito, 4, Firenze -www.conviviumfirenze.it

This is an upscale food shop and restaurant located across the Arno river in a fun neighborhood. They serve both lunch and dinner with a wide selection of wines. We stopped by for lunch and had an amazing meal. Everything is local and fresh-from the pasta to the delicious desserts.

Gusta Pizza, Via Maggio, 46, Firenze – closed on Mondays

This small pizzeria located across the Arno river is always crowded with happy customers. But don’t let that stop you from trying their outstanding pizza. The service is friendly and fast. If you don’t see an open table, consider ordering to go and just walk a block to the nearby piazza and eat there. This is a fun spot for a casual and economical meal in Florence.

Natalino, Borgo degli  Albizi, 17, Firenze – near Piazza Santa Croce

This small trattoria has both indoor and outdoor seating. It’s small, but cosy and they serve fresh, traditional Florentine dishes. The staff are friendly and it feels more like a local, neighborhood spot.  They also have an enoteca across the street.

Caffè & wifi

ditta Artiginale, Via dei Neri, 32
Great little coffee bar with good wifi, friendly people and more. They have fresh pastries and light lunch plates. A popular spot, but not in a busy area, so the tourists haven’t quite discovered it yet.

Gelato

Gelateria Edoardo: Piazza Duomo, 45
http://www.edoardobio.it
Organic products and made on site. It’s behind the Duomo in a small storefront.

Vestri Cioccolato d’Autore, Borgo degli Albizi, 11
Another great spot for gelato. Made with the best ingredients and interesting flavors. I had the best mint gelato ever (not a fake green color, either). Look for gelato shops that keep their gelato in those silver containers with lids—no fake fluffy displays.

Grom, Via del Campanile, 2
This gelato chain makes very good gelato. They use organic products and usually they are very generous with offering a taste of something. Sometimes, if it’s very crowded, like in Florence, this might not happen. It’s close to the big main cathedral (Duomo), so avoid the busy hours of 10-3 p.m. You can find a Grom in Perugia, Lucca and several other cities in Italy.

Lucca

Canuleia Trattoria, Via Canuleia, 14 near Piazza Anfiteatro
This friendly trattoria has an enclosed patio and also indoor seating. The food is typical Lucchesi dishes with some creative flair. We had a wonderful risotto with fresh vegetables of the season. Everything is fresh and local. They have a wide selection of after dinner drinks, too.

AllOsteria, Via Sant’Andres, 8 near Guinigi Tower, (+39) 0583-492899
This cosy restaurant looks a bit upscale, but the prices are reasonable for the quality of the food and the excellent service. It’s open for lunch and dinner every day of the week. We were impressed by the creative dishes and amazing desserts. The tiramisu “planet” was the most amazing dessert I’ve had in a long time. It’s best to make a reservation for this special spot in Lucca’s old city center.

Gigi Trattoria, Piazza del Carmine 7, Tel.: 0583 467266
You can sit inside or outside where they have a delightful patio on Piazza del Carmine. This is a popular spot, so it’s best to have a reservation. The food is traditional Tuscan fare with the freshest of ingredients. Lots of fresh pasta and interesting antipasti for a starter. My favorite was the budini with zucchini appetizer. The desserts are all made in-house, but they also give you their home-made cookie with an after dinner drink. It’s my favorite.

Monticchiello 

Osteria La Porta
Via del Piano 1, 53026 Monticchiello, +39 0578 755163 – http://www.osterialaporta.it

Not far from the town of Pienza is the tiny town of Monticchiello where you’ll find one of our favorite restaurants. If the weather is nice, you can sit outside for a fabulous lunch or dinner. The food is always consistently excellent and the service is wonderful. After you’re greeted by the lovely staff, you are presented with a small and delicious appetizer, compliments of the staff. Whatever you order after that will be excellent. Try to save room for the desserts, which are always fresh and creative. It might be wise to make a reservation if you’re traveling during the peak season.
They now have an additional more casual spot up the street called Cantina de La Porta, Via Luigi 3.

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