Because we spent all summer in Florence, I feel like I know the Florence restaurant scene inside and out. Florence’s restaurants are some of the best in Italy. We ate so well this summer. I will never ever forget some of the dinners we had. Italian cuisine focuses on beautiful simple, seasonal ingredients and of course the most amazing homemade pastas and pastries you could ever imagine! All the money that we spent on food felt totally worth it because all of our dinners were truly once in a lifetime experiences. Matt and I love local neighborhood restaurants the most and so most of our favorites were a little off the beaten path.

  1. Al Tranvai- Our very favorite spot located in the Oltarno neighborhood. We ate here one of our first nights in Florence and just had the most amazing meal- Matt had pasta soaked in Chianti and I ate gnocchi that literally melted in my mouth. Because we loved this little place so much, we ate here numerous times over the course of the summer and also on our last night in Florence. This little trolley car restaurant felt so special. The owner is super kind and always went above and beyond to ensure that we enjoyed our meal. Michelin recommended. Casual spot, great for lunch or dinner. Always filled with locals. Very affordable.
  2. Trattoria Del Orto- Another really great casual local spot in the Oltarno neighborhood with a beautiful backyard patio. The owner of this place is such a character. He was always hanging out drinking wine and lounging with his friends at a table in the back corner of the restaurant. Really great simple food, very affordable. Always good. Wonderful atmosphere filled with locals.
  3. 4 Leoni- Located in our favorite local Piazza, the Piazza del Passero. This place was always packed. Fancier and perfect for a nice night out. Unlike many of the other Italian restaurants this place did an amazing job with meat dishes (I would focus on pasta in Italy- the meat dishes can be very hit or miss). Overall wonderful food. Beautiful atmosphere, some seating on the piazza.
  4. S. Forno Panificio – GAH. There are no words. My most favorite place in all of the world. Matt and I went to this bakery every morning and I seriously looked into finding some way to work here for the rest of my life because it was just the most gorgeous. The bakery sells the most amazing pastries you will ever have and their bread was so good I could cry just thinking about it. Everything is homemade and you can watch the bakers baking in the kitchen in the back of the shop. I ate the homemade quiche every single morning. I have not been able to find anything that even remotely compares to this bakery in Chicago.
  5. il Santo Bevitore- The sister restaurant to S. Forno, so you know it is good. Beautiful, romantic space across the river. Cool crowd. Wonderful food. Slightly more expensive. Well worth a reservation.
  6. Trattoria Pandemonium Brogi- Mario Batali’s favorite spot in Florence. Located in the Oltarno neighborhood. You could walk right by this restaurant and never even notice it was there. When I finally walked in I was so shocked at how big the space was and also by how many people were there. Ask to be seated in the beautiful backyard garden. Matt loved the ravioli so much we went back numerous times. I absolutely loved their Ribollita, a thick Tuscan soup native to the region.
  7. Osteria Vini e Vecchi Sapori- A well known spot in Florence in the middle of the city. You must make a reservation. Quality food, fun atmosphere.
  8. GustaPizza- Our favorite spot for pizza. Also a favorite of every study abroad student who has ever studied in Florence, ever. The lines can get very long but definitely worth a wait for some good, simple pizza. Order a pizza and bring it with you to watch the sunset at the Piazza Michelangelo.
  9. Gelateria La Carraia- My most favorite gelato in all of Florence. I could eat the Chocolate Mouse gelato every single day of my life, forever. I have never loved something so much. You must try the chocolate mouse because it is so light and fluffy and perfect.


It rained cats and dogs this Saturday and so I finally got around to editing some of the millions of pictures we took in Italy this summer. I love going back through photos after about a month of having returned from a trip because it really helps me remember all the amazing experiences we had. About a month after we get home,  I start to forget everything, which is so sad! Even though we spent the whole summer in Italy, our time there sometimes feels like a dream.  It is so funny how that works! Here are some of my favorites from Florence, Siena and Tuscany. If you are in Tuscany you must visit Siena. Siena is only about an hour car ride south of Florence. You can easily take the train there for a day trip as well. Siena is such a beautiful little ancient town that, unlike Florence, does not allow cars. Siena is clean and quaint and much smaller than Florence. You can peacefully explore Siena’s streets without having to worry about traffic. I will never ever forget opening our hotel windows to the view of the swallows swooping around Siena at dusk. It is a memory that I will treasure for the rest of my life. You can just barely see the little specks of swallows in these pictures but in actuality they filled the whole sky. One of the most shocking parts of our summer in Italy was just how perfect the weather was! Summers in Tuscany are picture perfect. Everyday is sunny and beautiful. During the summer, it maybe only rained twice. In many of the pictures below you can really see the dryness of the land. Such a stark contrast from all the rain we got in Chicago this weekend!