By: Juliana Inglese B.A student 2014-2018
Eating at home in one thing, but as J.R.R. Tolkien said “It’s a dangerous business (…) going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
Being vegan, or vegetarian, there is certainly an element of risky business when trying to find a place to eat. There are places specifically for vegans, where everything is already thought out, you just pick, and eat. Then there are the times when you grab lunch with friends, or have a nice dinner out with family, but you are there ordering sides because the roasted potatoes, and steamed spinach, are the only things that are vegan.
Veganism and vegetarianism tend to rub some Italians the wrong way. They enjoy their meats and cheeses like prosciutto and mozzarella however, Florence is very vegan/vegetarian friendly for the most part. For me, I am a pretty loose vegan, more vegetarian, and I focus more on eating a balanced plant-based diet.
In Firenze, finding good places to eat is not hard, but for a vegan you need to know where you’re heading, so the contorni (sides), or a few leaves of lettuce, aren’t your only choices.
Firstly, I would recommend downloading an app called Happy Cow. It is a fantastic app for travelers and people everywhere to find plant-based/ vegan options and healthy food. In this way healthy food is more accessible and easier to find anywhere you go.
For Florence specifically, there great vegan/vegetarian dining options/stores in the city center.
The closest and most convenient for me is VEG and VEG in the upstairs of Mercato Centrale (Piazza del Mercato Centrale 4). They are open daily from 10:00am-12:00am and have great burgers, soups, and salads, as well as fresh juice. It is a bit more on the expensive side, but great for those nights when the effort to cook is just not there.
A great street for vegans/ vegetarians is Via San Gallo, where housing for freshmen students is located. There are a few good place down this lengthy street such as Il Vegano (previously Veggy Days), located at Via San Gallo, 75 R, which offers vegan fast food (Italian dishes, burgers, sandwiches, hot meals, and breakfast), along with an art gallery, and is open from Mon-Sat 11:00am-11:00pm.
Another one is the Ginger Bistrot, located at 92r, with a menu that is based on seasonal and organic products, including organic wine and beer, herbal infusions and fruit smoothies.
A little bit before Ginger Bistrot, if you take a left on Via delle Route, you will find Il Vegetariano, located at 30 r, which is a vegetarian restaurant that started in Rome in the 80s, where there are no waiters, you are served by the chef and seat yourself. It has a cozy atmosphere, but limited seating.
Keep going down Via delle Route and you reach the corner of Via San Zanobi, where Le Fate (The Fairies), at 126r, has a menu associated with astrology, so every Zodiac sign has a special vegan dish.
These are just a few of the many vegan/ vegetarian dining options in Florence, including places that serve meat but have vegetarian/vegan options available:
Two Locations: Via Del Corso 30/32, Florence, Italy, 50122 / Via Degli Avelli 2R (at Piazza Santa Maria Novella), Florence, Italy
Small cafe offering choices for vegans, including vegan croissants, sandwiches, salads, wraps, sorbet, gelato and soy milk for hot drinks. Open Mon-Sun 7:00am-7:30pm.
Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore, 1, Florence, Italy
Gluten-free classic Italian dishes with a menu that is about 50% vegetarian suitable. Open Mon 8:30am-4:00pm, Tue-Sat 8:30am-11:30pm.
Le Vespe Cafe
Via Ghibellina 76R (at Via de Pepi), Florence, Italy, 50125
Offers several vegan choices such as home-made granola with fresh fruit and soy or rice milk, tofu scramble with roast potatoes and salad, rice spring rolls with marinated tempeh, steamed kale and shredded beets, sundried tomato sandwich with roasted red peppers and avocado. Open Mon-Fri 9:00am-3:00pm, Sat-Sun 10:00am-3:00pm.
Via Sant’Agostino 11R, Florence, Italy, 50125
Well designed, trendy, raw vegan restaurant in Santo Spirito. Open Mon-Sun 11:00am-8:00pm.
There are so many good places to explore and even I haven’t tried them all. There are also grocery stores and shops dedicated to organic food, with vegan and vegetarian options such as NaturaSi (with a couple of locations), Sugar Blues, and Eco Popup Firenze to name a few.
Check out the Happy Cow app and happy eating my Vegan/Vegetarian friends!