Seasonal Food In Italy: What To Try & Where In Florence

Local, seasonal food is abundant in Florence, with specialties marking each season. It is such a treat for me to experience my second full year of the flavors and foods that are so deeply tied to Tuscan culture—so much so that I witnessed an old woman’s face light up when she spotted schiacciata con l'uva in the grocery store bakery last month.

Whether you live in Florence or are visiting, you should take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the seasonal specialties, especially since food is one of the best ways to learn about culture. To help you on your mission of having your own food moment—like the old woman in the grocery store—I’ve highlighted local Florentine seasonal specialties along with where you can find them and special food fairs. Buon appetito!

Specialty Seasonal Foods

Fall

Schiacciata con l'uva: Capitalizing on the grape season, schiacciata con l’uva is a flatbread baked with sweet grapes on top. You’ll find this bread sold in bakeries and grocery stores throughout Florence including some of my favorite bakeries, Bottega di Pasticceria and Pandemonio di Bencini Carlo & Binazzi.

Festivals: Food festivals are abundant during the harvest season, with an olive oil festival in Bagno a Ripoli, several mushroom festivals, chestnut festivals, and the gelato festival (the weekend around Sept. 17/18).

Mushrooms, grapes, pumpkin: Dig into the mushroom, grape, and pumpkin and pumpkin dishes or take advantage of the great prices to create them at home. Berbere, one of my favorite pizza places in Florence, does a great pumpkin and mushroom pizza only in the fall.

pumpkin.jpg
pizza.jpg

Olive oil: Along with the olive harvest and smell of burning olive branches throughout the outskirts of Florence, you’ll find fresh olive oil for sale at farmers’ markets and food festivals such as the lovely olive oil festival in Bagno a Ripoli.

Read more about a nearby olive oil festival here

Winter

Panettone: This sweet Christmas bread, that is reminiscent of a better tasting fruit cake, pops up in bakeries and grocery stores around Florence. You can’t miss it in-store because panettone comes in a large box and does require a bit of DIY assembly—last year, we were gifted a panettone for Christmas and I loved pouring in the accompanying powdered sugar and shaking it together with the cake before taking the cake out of its giant paper bag. Baby ISO definitely got a kick out of this as well!

Ribollita: This hearty Florentine staple is heartwarming and a flavorful way to utilize the seasonal produce available in winter like stored beans, root vegetables, and hot-house grown/late season greens. Foodie Farm has a really flavorful ribollita sandwich on their menu, if you’d like to try a different twist on this Tuscan favorite stew.

ribolita.jpg

My favorite food-related souvenir from Florence*—

Spring

Welcome to my favorite season of food in Florence! Most of the food in spring, other than the tender spring fresh produce, is specifically related to Lent and Easter, which in my opinion is a great time to visit Italy.

Pan di Ramerino: Pan di ramerino is perhaps my favorite food that I’ve tried so far in Italy. This little sweet bun is so packed with flavors and every baker seems to have a different recipe, so each time you get a new layer of flavors. Most pan di ramerino seem to include rosemary, raisins, and honey. I recommend the pan di ramerino at Bottega di Pasticceria, Pandemonio di Bencini Carlo & Binazzi, and the person selling pan di ramerino at the olive oil festival in Bagno a Ripoli.

Giant chocolate eggs: Now these are definitely a kick and exactly designed for kids. I’m not exactly sure that giant chocolate eggs are Italian, but I’ve never seen such large chocolate eggs before, so I have to include them on this list—they are so fun for little ones! A few weeks before Easter, you’ll see giant chocolate eggs, from brands like Kinder, Lindt, and local stores, that have a special toy inside (we went with Hot Wheels last Easter!) and are meant as Easter gifts for children.

Colomba: For a family Easter celebration, colomba cake is exactly the perfect dessert. Colomba cake has a crispy top, covered with nuts, sugar, and possibly chocolate chips. Colomba cake originates from northern Italy, but is now enjoyed throughout the country on Easter. Here is a lovely post that shares a recipe and gives more details about the colomba cake. I purchased a colomba cake for Easter from Eataly and it was great!

Schiacciata alla Fiorentina: Another amazing cake available in pasticcerias all over Florence in the lead up to Easter, Schiacciata alla Fiorentina is cake composed of two thin layers of sponge with orange zest with a thick layer of cream in the middle and topped with powdered sugar. During Easter, you’ll find this displayed on a large pan with a fleur-de-lis outlined in powered sugar. Emulate an Italian lifestyle by eating a slice of schiacciata alla Fiorentia with an espresso for breakfast.

Frittelle: If pan di ramerino is my favorite Italian food, frittelle comes in as a close second. These delightful fried rice dough balls are available from Carnivale until Easter, but unlike the other pastries on this list, don’t purchase frittelle from just anywhere. Get them freshly made from the little pop-up stand in Bagno a Ripoli.

frittelle.jpg

Asparagus: As the weather starts warming up, fresh asparagus becomes available in grocery stores and markets such as Mercato Sant’Ambrogio.

Read more about where to find the best frittelle here

Summer

Fresh produce: The summer season in Florence is long and glorious with bountiful tomatoes, zucchini blossoms, fig, peppers, green beans, and more available in the markets. I love making fresh squash blossoms at home stuffed with goat cheese and pan fried. If you don’t have access to a kitchen while you’re in Florence, try the fig gelato that is seasonally available at my favorite gelateria, Il Sorriso. S. Forno is another great spot to get food made with local, seasonal produce like their summertime fig flatbread or massive salads (find more about Il Sorriso and S. Forno here).

fig.jpg

What other seasonal specialties have you tried in Florence or in Italy? What else should I be sure to try?