Piazza della Signoria, 10, Santa Croce
Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele conceived of this multihyphenate space with the company’s in-house art curator. It took over two years to complete and now contains a garden, a museum, a store, and a restaurant helmed by Massimo Bottura (of Osteria Francescana fame)—everything created through the lens of Gucci. Anyone who appreciates design and fashion history will find the experience fascinating.
Via del Verrocchio, 8/R, Santa Croce
There’s no pasta at Cibrèo, nor is there a menu. Instead, a server explains what’s available for the evening from chef Fabio Picchi (who has four establishments in the city, including his trattoria of the same name next door). Cibrèo is well loved by tourists and locals alike, so if your waiter speaks perfect English, don’t be discouraged. Despite the formal dining room, it’s a laid-back kind of place—if you can’t decide between two mains, perhaps they’ll give you a taste of both. If three of the desserts sound appealing, smaller portions of all three might appear at the end of the meal. It’s all very personal and warm, which is a big reason why we come here.
Via Ghibellina, 87, Santa Croce
If you’re looking for Michelin stars (plural) in Florence, Enoteca Pinchiorri is your place. A former Renaissance palazzo, the wine cellar alone is rumored to be the most expensive—and expansive—in the world, with over 70,000 bottles. The food, meanwhile, is wildly inventive (pigeon cooked under a salty cocoa bean crust with mango chutney, red mullet fillets wrapped in Tuscan bread with candied fennel purée in extra virgin olive oil and stewed sea snails). Ask to sit in the restaurant’s beautiful, airy courtyard to listen to the live pianist. The experience is utterly charming.
Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti, Santa Croce
If you’ve enjoyed dinner at one of Florence’s better restaurants, there’s a good chance the produce came from this market. Ten minutes from Piazza del Duomo, Mercato Sant’Ambrogio is open daily and is the ideal spot to fill up on vegetables and fruit—or a panino from Semel, which we heartily recommend—if you’ve maxed out on pasta but not on carbs in general. The nearby Enoteca Sant’Ambrogio is a wonderful spot to taste some bold Tuscan reds or spend the late afternoon after browsing the market.
Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti, 44, Santa Croce
A hole-in-the-wall hatch in a corner of the Sant’Ambrogio market, Semel’s proprietor—the very dapper and thoroughly Florentine Marco Paparozzi—turns out hundreds of perfect panini (the perfect late lunch). Don’t go expecting a sliver of prosciutto and some cheese wedged between two slices of bread. Paparozzi’s panini are the most sophisticated combinations of Tuscan ingredients: Wild boar (cinghiale) and broccoli, sweet pear and truffled Pecorino…you get the idea. Order off the blackboard then settle in to watch the theater of Florence’s busiest market from your curbside seat.
Via Giuseppe Verdi, 36//R, Santa Croce
Salumeria Verdi is the Florentine equivalent of a deli. But this is a city with high gastronomic standards, and what you get here are no ordinary sandwiches. Italy in general and Tuscany in particular have an extremely varied bread tradition and this Salumeria showcases close to all of them. There’s schiacciata (a type of squashed, doughy Tuscan flatbread), piadina (an even flatter bread that you almost treat as a wrap), and the ubiquitous ciabatta (a very airy, white loaf); all are stuffed full of the region’s best meat and cheese by proprietor Pino and his family.
Via del Proconsolo, 4, Santa Croce
Il Bargello has seen Florence’s power players come and go since 1255. Throughout its long history, it’s been the residence of the head of police, a prison, the meeting place of the Council of the Hundred (a government entity, of which Dante Alighieri was part), and since the mid-nineteenth century, a museum. The many halls and galleries are full of sculptures, including several works by Donatello.
Via Luigi Carlo Farini 4, Santa Croce
It’s a little out of the way, but the Tempio Maggiore is so worth a visit for both its historical value and sheer magnificence. Nearly destroyed during World War II—local Italian partisans defused the bombs in the nick of time—the synagogue was built in the late 1880s for the local Shaphardi community. The interior, inspired by the architecture of southern Spain as well as the Hagia Sofia, is quite Moorish—full of rich mosaics, marble, and stained glass. The Tempio Maggiore is still in use today. Afterward, a visit to Ruth’s for the best kosher spread in town (with excellent vegetarian options) is mandatory.
Luisa Via Roma
Via Silvio Pellico, 9, Santa Croce
Luisa Via Roma is Italy’s (arguably better) answer to Barneys. The store is big—but not too big—and strictly curated to show off the best of Italian fashion and the most avant-garde of the international companies. Expect Fendi and Fiorucci alongside Versace, Yeezy, and Paul Andrew. The jewelry edit is sublime and features hard-to-find brands like Delfina Delettrez and Aurélie Bidermann. There’s also a terrace bar for a post-shopping cocktail.
Piazza di Santa Croce, 6, Santa Croce
Grab a table outside at this little local wine bar and take in every nook and cranny of the stunning Church of Santa Croce as you sip your Vino Nobile. In the winter months, retreat inside to the warm bar with its stone walls, candles, and platters of charcuterie.