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Food & Nightlife

Food is an important part of Italian life. Italians usually take their time when eating lunch and dinner. Italian meals consist of many courses: first there's an antipasto (appetizers, or "before the meal"), then il primo (first plate), il secondo (second plate), contorni (vegetable side dish), and then i dolci (the dessert). The antipasto usually consists of cold cuts, the primo consists of a pasta or rice dish, or soup, the secondo consists of a meat or fish dish, the contorni consists of a vegetable dish or salad. Italians tend to eat lunch later than Americans do, and dinner is after 8pm. The meal is usually accompanied by a good glass of wine. Breakfast in Italy is not considered an important meal, and if anything, Italians usually just eat fette biscotte (similar to a sweet-cracker) with jam, or a pastry with espresso. And since Italians take the time to enjoy their food, it is almost impossible to order coffee on the go. On that note, you will never see Italians eating while they are walking on the street. If people are in a rush, they will eat standing up.

Students at a Florentine food market.
Students at a cafe in Florence.

Student Recommendations

  • Acqua dal Due | Must-have pasta sampler | Via della Vigna Vecchia 40r
  • Baldovino | Good, but expensive | Piazza della Santa Croce
  • Bar Lidia | Great for lunch | Via Bolognese
  • Borgo Antico | Piazza Santo Spirito 6/r
  • Eby's | Mexican | Via Dell' Oriuolo, 5
  • Fuori Porta | Very traditional Italian fare | Via del Monte alle Croci 10r
  • La Giostra | Very pricey, but wonderful | Borgo Pinti 10r
  • Il Latini | Best restaurant in Florence | Via del Palchetti 6
  • Il Vegetariano | Vegetarian | Via delle Ruote 30/r
  • Munaciello | Great pizzeria | Via Maffia
  • Moyo | Wireless internet access | Via de’ Benci, 23r
  • OpenBar/GoldenView | Via De' Bardi, 54/64 Rosso
  • Osterio Santo Spirito | Piazza Santo Spirito 16
  • Quattro Leoni | Off the beaten path, but great | Via de dé Vellutini 1r , Piazza della Passera
  • The Oil Shoppe | Best sandwiches in Florence | via S.Egidio 22/R
  • Trattoria da Pennello | Excellent 3-course menu | Via Dante Alighieri 4r
  • Trattoria Mario | Lunch only | Via Rosina 2/r angolo Piazza del Mercato Centrale
  • Trattoria Sant'Agostino | Via Sant’Agostino 23/r
  • Yellow bar | Casual | Via del Proconsolo 39/r

  • Art Bar | Relaxing atmosphere | near il Latini
  • Noir | Chic cocktail loungue | Lungarno Corsini 12-14/r
  • Dolce Vita | Mostly Italians, good pre-club hangout | Piazza del Carmine 6/r
  • JJ Cathedral | Very small, mostly exchange students | Piazza del Duomo
  • Old Stove | Old-fashioned club, good drinks | via Pellicceria 2/r
  • Salamanca | Spanish-themed, great sangria | Via Ghibellina 80/r
  • Slowly | Relaxed, expect more middle-aged crowd | Via Porta Rossa 63/r

  • Bebop | Random mix of music, Beatles covers | Via dei Servi 76/r
  • Jazz Club | Some NYU music students perform here | Via Nuova de’ Caccini 3
  • Maracana | Has an outdoor seating area as well as indoor dance floor | Via Faenza 4

 Student recommendations from Fall 2009. Let us know if this list should change!

Dining Help


Tips are merit-based in Italy, not standard like in the U.S. You are not obligated to tip, but remember, your server probably knows you're American, and knows that you would tip in your own country. It never hurts to leave a few extra euro for good service.

Ordering Meat

If you order meat, it may come out fairly rare. If you ask for ‘well-done,’ the chances are that you will get meat far less than well-done by American standards.

Fried Food

Realize that there is very little fried food in a Tuscan diet. If you see calamari on a menu without the word fritti, understand that it may come out sautéed or without any breading.


Butter is not normally served with Tuscan bread (which is generally salt free and kind of dry), use the olive oil on the table or wait until your meal comes to dip it in the sauce on your plate.

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