This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Food-Lover's Mini-Guide To Florence

Travel

Emiko Davies is an Australian foodie, Italo-phile (is that a word?) author and photographer, based in Florence. The popular blogger has written two cookbooks on Italian cuisine (Florentine: The True Cuisine of Florence and Acquacotta) and is currently working on her third, due for release next year!

Having written extensively for titles including Conde Nast Traveler, Gourmet Traveller, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Jamie Magazine, Delicious and more… we’re PRETTY CHUFFED today, to feature Emiko’s mini-guide to Florence.

She’ll also be back in the not-too-distant-future, for a month-long stint sharing authentic Italian recipes for our weekly food column. Bring. It. On!

16th March, 2018

Florence view. Photo – Emiko Davies.

Florence Duomo view. Photo – Emiko Davies.

Florence-Piazza della Passera. Photo – Emiko Davies.

View of Florence. Photo – Hana Davies.

Florence Market Stall. Photo – Hana Davies.

Streetscape. Photo – Emiko Davies.

‘On a whim I ended up in Florence, Italy. There, I fell in love with a handsome local, a sommelier and my ideal gastronomic partner in crime,’ tells Emiko. Photo – Birgitte Brondsted.

Emiko’s award-winning book Florentine: The True Cuisine of Florence‘. 

Florence Cantina Verazzano entrance. Photo – Emiko Davies.

Numeroventi interior. Photo – Marina Denisova.

Numeroventi interior. Photo – Marina Denisova.

Valdirose three-bedroom detail. Photo – Marina Denisova.

Florence Valdirose alfresco area. Photo – Emiko Davies.

Valdirose resident Otto the dog. Photo – Emiko Davies.

Kitchen details at Valdirose. Photo – Emiko Davies.

Emiko Davies
Friday 16th March 2018

‘Thirteen years ago,  on a whim, I ended up in Florence.’ – Emiko Davies.

Half-Japanese half-Australian and the daughter of a diplomat, I have spent two-thirds of my life living in countries other than my own – from China to the US. 

Thirteen years ago,  on a whim, I ended up in Florence, Italy.  Here, I fell in love with a handsome local – a sommelier and my ideal gastronomic partner in crime.

We live in a tiny flat with a tiny kitchen in the hills of Florence. And living in Tuscany has taught me something about Italian cuisine – that it doesn’t really exist; rather, there are 20 regional cuisines and thousands of provincial cuisines.

I started my blog in December 2010, as a way to document my passion for Tuscan food traditions, a place to share travel stories and the anecdotes, techniques, and history behind regional recipes.

Here I share a few of my favourite places (and treats!) to experience in my home city…

Valdirose B&B

Fifteen minutes outside of bustling Florence is this charming villa of Valdirose, where Irene Berni grew up. She runs the B&B with her husband Paolo (and dog Otto). Paolo does a lot of the beautiful handiwork like restoring old furniture and recreating perfectly worn tabletops, or setting up traditional drywall terraces in their small olive grove, while Irene bakes heavenly Tuscan cakes and other good things for breakfast.

The pared-back rooms are decorated with rustic elements and details that recall family heirlooms. It’s a home away from home, made and run with love – the only problem is, you may just find it hard to get up and leave!

 

C.BIO

This upscale, organic Bottega market near the Sant’Ambrogio markets was created by larger than life Florentine chef Fabio Picchi (owner of Cibreo restaurant). His goal was to supply Florence with well-chosen local, organic fruit and vegetables, but also ancient, heirloom fruit trees (displayed on the store’s upstairs terrace, do go have a look) as well as seedlings and natural wines. The cheese counter and bakery will have you wanting to buy everything and immediately start cooking – or devouring it, picnic-style, anywhere remotely suitable.

The bread is something special – particularly Picchi’s signature loaf, made of a mixture of Tuscan, Sicilian and Piemontesi ancient grains, called ‘pane santo’, aka holy bread. And if you’re looking for packaged goodies to take home, the best quality dried legumes, pasta and tins of everything Italy does best line the shelves – I can never resist grabbing a bar of Bonajuto chocolate from Modica, Sicily, an ancient, cold-worked chocolate made of just three ingredients (cocoa mass, sugar, and vanilla), on the way out.

 

Caffe Verrazzano

Despite what you may think, good coffee is not necessarily a given in Florence (especially for an Australian, we really are spoiled with the best coffee in the world).  Lately, though, a few new trendy places have opened that even serve antipodean Flat Whites!  Although they’re extremely popular amongst the locals, I still like to do the Italian ritual – head to an old bar, order my coffee at the counter and enjoy it standing, in a few moments, perhaps with a sticky-topped raisin and rosemary bun (pandiramerino, a true Florentine treat).

One of my favourite places for this is Cantinetta di Verrazzano. It’s as central as you can get, squeezed on a side street between the Duomo and Piazza della Signoria, and the coffee that comes out of their beautiful copper machine is always good. Their bakery is also excellent and they have a good choice of sweet and savoury treats, especially the focaccia, which is baked onsite and filled or topped with seasonal goodies like zucchini flowers, fresh artichokes or radicchio.

 

Numeroventi

Chances are you’ve come to Florence to admire the Renaissance art and architecture, it’s what this city does best. But if you’d like to see something a bit different, there is the unique and beautifully designed Numeroventi, a space made for creative collaboration in the form of apartments, a gallery and an artist residency. It was founded by Martino Di Napoli Rampolla, who, returning to Florence after working as a graphic designer in Barcelona and Belgium, found that something was missing here for contemporary artists and designers. He had the perfect location on hand – an old syrup factory from 1832 that belonged to his grandfather’s uncle, and is smack bang in the centre of Florence.

Together with interior designer (and co-founder of Openhouse magazine), Andrew Trotter, the rooms were given a new lease of life, and furnished with modern and vintage pieces. On the top floor is the gallery where artists in residence work and display their creations – visits by appointment or keep an eye out for Numeroventi’s Open Days.

 

Il Santino

Florence has a handful of very good wine bars that are worth seeking out, and Il Santino, housed in a Renaissance palazzo in one of my favourite quarters of Florence, is one of them. Like most good wine bars, it’s a tiny, intimate spot that fills during the aperitivo hour, that moment just after work and just before dinner when you catch up with friends and relax over a glass of wine and something to nibble on (when it’s busy you can even stand on the street, where you’ll find a little ledge outside to pop your wine glass).

For those who have trouble deciding what to pick, the menu has pairings for certain wines by the glass with the ideal morsel (a combination I love is the mortadella di Prato, a local Tuscan style of mortadella, with a bubbly Franciacorta), otherwise you may be tempted by the selection of cheeses in the counter or the hanging salumi and prosciutto, which are sliced to order, or perhaps something from their list of small dishes like a carpaccio with pecorino or chicken liver terrine. Many also like to perch here while waiting for a table at their popular restaurant next door, Il Santo Bevitore, which buzzes with the same lively yet laid-back vibe.

 

Gelateria della Passera

Most people may not realise that Florence is steaming hot for a good six months of the year. Come during the Summer months (and often, the ones on either side that are supposed to be Spring or Autumn) and you’ll find yourself sweltering amongst the pietra serena stones all day and night. Gelato is a must.

While there are plenty of great examples of gelaterie around town, there are also plenty of duds. One that I love to pop into is the tiny artisan gelateria in Piazza della Passera, not least for a visit to this cute piazza, one of the few in Florence where you can sit peacefully with a gelato or a spritz and really not feel like a tourist. Other than the classics, most of the flavours – subtle, not too sweet, and refreshing – change often, according to the season and availability. Find single flavours like zabaione, persimmon, liquorice or fig, for example, or try one of the menu’s mainstays, Monna Lisa, made of a custard base with applesauce, orange blossom water, cognac-soaked raisins, and walnuts.

 

Emiko Davies has written two cookbooks ‘about real Tuscan food’, Florentine: The True Cuisine of Florence and Acquacotta, and is currently working on her third, due out early next year.

Emiko will soon be joining us for a month-long stint sharing authentic Italian recipes for our weekly food column – stay tuned!

View Comments

Similar Stories

Travel

Prior Knowledge Travel

A new offering in the bespoke travel arena, from exceptionally well travelled Australian writer and editor, David Prior.

Travel

Macedon Ranges with Elizabeth Barnett

The artist and local resident shares her itinerary for the perfect day trip in Macedon, just one-hour from Melbourne.
Elizabeth Barnett

A Personal Guide to Venice

One of Australia's leading art advisors, Sophie Ullin releases an art-tripper's guide to the enchanting city, which is currently hosting its...
Sophie Ullin

This Week

Food

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Seasonal Flavours: Spring Greens with Ricotta

Our favourite foodie is back with another must-cook dish! Today, the self-taught cook shares her recipe for a simple crowd-pleasing starter....
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

TDF Design Awards

And Winners Of The TDF Design Awards Are...

After celebrating last night at our fabulous awards ceremony, we are so excited to announce the WINNERS of the TDF Design Awards 2019!

Gardens

A Robust Rooftop Garden In Rozelle

Klaus and Anne Schindhelm share their expansive apartment 'backyard' with spectacular water views!
Georgina Reid
  14 hours ago

Creative People

The New Australian Furniture Brand That ‘Won’t Break The Bank’

The new Peninsula furniture range by Jake Williamson aims to make local design accessible.
Lucy Feagins
  6 hours ago

Modernist Australia

A Robin Boyd Bushland Block Up For Sale!

A classic home by Australia's most loved modernist architect, the 'Uglow House' in Montmorency is on the market for a steal!
Patricia Callan

Art

Influential Australian Women Star In National Portrait Prize Shortlist

Nova Peris, Magda Szubankski, Annabel Crabb and other icons grace the paintings in the running for Australia's richest art prize, the 2019 D...
Elle Murrell

Architecture

A Modern Country Home Inspired By The Aussie Shed

The Wensleydale by Byrne Architects is the epitome of luxe, contemporary country living - and you can stay here!
Miriam McGarry

Interiors

Apartment Life, Furnished Right!

Simone Haag Interior Design transforms a tiny apartment in Clifton Hill into a fun and functional space.
Miriam McGarry

Shopping

Ten Things Lucy Loved At Maison & Objet In Paris!

Lucy shares the top ten picks from her whirlwind trip to Paris, for Maison & Objet, the premier trade fair for decoration, design and lifest...

Studio Visit

The Art Of Daydreaming, Captured In A New Exhibition By Kat Macleod

Inside ‘Reverist’, a new body of work that goes on show at Lamington Drive tonight!
Elle Murrell

Studio Visit

The Story Behind Our One-Of-A-Kind Awards Trophies

How glass artist Amanda Dziedzic created the exquisite glass trophies we'll be awarding to the TDF Design Award winners tonight!

Homes

Plant Mama’s Plant Haven!

Green guru Jenna Holmes aka Plant Mama shares her Collingwood jungle home.

Interiors

A Swedish Summer Cottage In South Australia

Emma Read and Sarah Hall of My Sister And The Sea create a cosy cottage getaway on the edge of the Innes National Park.
Miriam McGarry

News

The Archibald Arrives At TarraWarra

Australia’s oldest and most prestigious art award comes to Victoria, featuring portraits of 51 subjects.
Miriam McGarry

TDF Design Awards

The Emerging Designers In The Running To WIN At The TDF Design Awards

Seven of Australia's most accomplished new designers and emerging design studios, in the running to WIN at TDF Design Awards!

Similar Stories

Travel

Prior Knowledge Travel

A new offering in the bespoke travel arena, from exceptionally well travelled Australian writer and editor, David Prior.

Travel

Macedon Ranges with Elizabeth Barnett

The artist and local resident shares her itinerary for the perfect day trip in Macedon, just one-hour from Melbourne.
Elizabeth Barnett

A Personal Guide to Venice

One of Australia's leading art advisors, Sophie Ullin releases an art-tripper's guide to the enchanting city, which is currently hosting its...
Sophie Ullin