Where NOT to Eat in Florence, Italy

Or for that matter, anywhere abroad.

By Shubhra Krishan

As someone who believes in stumbling upon great places, I decided to ditch the guidebooks/blogs/local advice and plunged straight into Florence.

Big mistake.

Stepping out of the magnificent Santa Maria Novella Railway Station.

Florence Italy  Restaurants

I wended my way through the crowded streets of the city…asking for directions to The Gallery Hotel Art. Incidentally, this is a cool and comfortable hotel in the city’s heart: highly recommend it!

Along the way, hunger pangs hit. Hard. And since I was in Italy, the fragrance of herbs and the aroma of baked bread was everywhere. Honestly, I could hardly wait to drop my bags at the hotel and get back on the streets for a bite.

Florence Italy  Restaurants
Florence Italy Restaurants

Strung along a pipe-thin lane, I spotted a string of eateries that promised big meals at incredible deals. Smiling restaurant staff stood outside their outlets, handing out colourful pamphlets that promised a free drink with pizza and seemingly endless menus.

Florence Italy  Restaurants

I succumbed. And regretted it minutes later. The pizza was cold and leathery, with about 3 olives that tasted as if they had been glued atop the bread a month ago. Sure, it cost me “just 4 euros” for pizza and coke, but I would rather have spent a few bucks more to get a better bite.

I am sure the giant plastic chef standing outside the restaurant, holding that huge menu card, giggled a little when I walked in.

Moral of the story: do your research when you are going to Florence. Or anywhere in peak tourist season.

What I Know Now ( Florence, Italy: Restaurants)

If a restaurant has an extensive menu with country flags beside dish names, it’s likely a tourist trap.

Staff are standing on the streets, trying to wave you in. Red flag, mostly.

Location is a significant indicator. The closer you are to a famous landmark, the likelier you are to get overpriced and underwhelming food.

Buon Appetito!

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