This place is easily one of the best things about Florence. I am constantly thinking about it, craving it and every time I take a bite out of another panino I immediately compare it to Vinaio (I have yet to find one that compares). Vinaio makes the world go round. Usually there is a decent size line, but it is worth the wait. You walk in to the nicest men behind the counter who will help you out with suggestions. Italians do not like combining meats and there are certain pairings of meat and cheese, but you can still get whatever you desire. I strongly suggest trying the porchetta (pork), it is out of this world. Every ingredient is fresh and you watch them make it for you, slicing the meats and crafting each panino with love. The panino is only 5 euros and you can put as little or as much as you want on it. It is a ginormous panino and you will not leave hungry, I promise. If you come to Florence and do not have All’Antico Vinaio, you are doing it all wrong.
For a nice, a tad more expensive meal in Florence you should definitely La Giostra. I highly recommend making a reservation. When you walk in to the restaurant there are pictures all over the walls of the many famous people that have eaten there. Immediately when you sit down, you are brought out the most amazing antipasto platter. Please try one of all, you won’t be disappointed. “Stracciatella di Burrata Pugliese di Cinta Senese,” is by far the best cheese I have ever had in my life. You have to pull it a part and all its stringy goodness. It melts in your mouth and comes with some honey. And for dinner, if you want to try the most delicate, delicious ravioli you need to get “Ravioli di pecorino di fossa e pere williams.” This pear ravioli is from another world. Basically, you can order anything on the menu and you will be pleased.
There is nothing more refreshing after walking around Florence on a hot day then snagging some gelato. As soon as the first cold bite touches your mouth, you immediately cool down. La Carraria has a wide range of flavors from fruits to the rich creamy ones. A 2.50 euro cup here can get you three flavors, not a bad deal at all. I have not had all the flavors yet but I do love coconut, pistachio, and dark chocolate.
If you are looking to hang out at American/tourist bars then I would suggest checking out Uncle Jimmy’s, Lion’s Fountain and Red Garter. Uncle Jimmy’s has the best bartenders who are very friendly. There are bras, underwear (men and women’s) and signatures that cover the walls. Ask one of the bartenders for a sharpie so you can tag your name. Also, you can play beer pong and flip cup here! Lion’s Fountain has college shirts hanging the ceilings. The bartenders are also very nice (sometimes they switch between Uncle Jimmy’s). They serve American food as well; wings, burgers, cheese fries, and bagels. Now if you are looking for some karaoke then you should definitely hit up Red Garter where you can see American students singing their hearts out. Red Garter also serves steins and beer towers if you go with buddies and want to split.
Florence has a fake beach set up along the Arno River. During the day, you can go down there and lay out. On a Friday night, grab some friends and head down there to drink on the beach. You will be amongst plenty of Italians and the energy is great there. There is nothing like drinking on the river under the stars. You are not allowed to bring your own alcohol, just a heads up.
Aperitivo is one of the best things in Italy. It happens at night at many restaurants where you pay 6-12 euro for an all you can eat buffet and one drink. Soul Kitchen offers an 8 euro aperitivo with a variety of food ranging from pasta, cheese, pate, risotto, French Friends, fried eggplants and more! They have a fresh modern interior, which gives the restaurant a very cool laid back vibe. The atmosphere and the employees make you feel very welcome even if you are not Italian! The bartenders also make fantastic cocktails.
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