Here's a guide to my favorite wine bars and trattorias in the neighborhoods of major cultural attractions in Florence.

Look for my decal in the window. And tell them Divina Cucina sent you!

Fabio watching another Divina Cucina student leave Mario's...Happy!

Mercato di San Lorenzo
Open 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Saturday

Via Taddea, 8
Next to Botticelli Hotel

I am a lucky woman! My friend Stefano Poggesi and his sister Patrizia have opened a vino sfuso shop on my street. BYOB! Bring your own bottle and fill it up with fabulous wines at a fraction of the cost of bottled wines. vino sfuso, or bulk wine, is how locals used to buy wine when I moved to Florence 20 years ago. One would load up the car with 50-liter demijohns and head out on a quest. Now the tradition is back without the need to go to the countryside; you can now buy right here in downtown Florence! By buying in bulk, you aren't paying for the bottles, labels, corks, and marketing it takes to sell wine with distributors.

Da Nerbone
Inside the Mercato di San Lorenzo
Tel: 055-219-949
Open for lunch only

Opened in 1865 within the new Mercato Centrale, Nerbone is still going strong. Any time of day, you'll be rubbing elbows with truck drivers, bankers, shop keepers, and students. There are only five tables! However, that doesn't stop anyone from eating. Just grab your glass of wine and belly up to the bar. This is a great place for trying a single dish, especially home-style pastas, soups, and stews. Nerbone is owned by the owners of the famous Vecchia Bettola. They recently opened a second Nerbone in the main square in Greve in Chianti.

Pany Da Lory Di Maestri Lorena
Inside the Mercato di San Lorenzo
Tel: 055-216-071
Web site

When I tire of unsalted Tuscan bread and need some flavorful fun breads, I go to Lory! Lory is from northern Italy where the variety of breads is fabulous. Her stand in the central market is filled with great breads--whole wheat. pumpkin, rye, and many more. Her small baguettes are perfect for a picnic. Ask for a sample. She is a ray of sunshine and loves her job and it shows! She also sells fresh pasta, cookies, breadsticks, and sometimes cheeses from Alto Adige where she is from! Tell her you read about her on Divina Cucina and she will give you a discount! She also delivers, if you are lucky enough to live here!

Fiaschetteria-Trattoria Mario
Via Rosina, 2R
Behind Mercato di San Lorenzo in the Piazza Mercato Centrale
Tel: 055-218-550
Open for lunch only

One of my favorites! A must for anyone visiting Florence! Mario is only open for lunch, Monday through Saturday. There is always a line! To avoid the line, come before noon before the locals arrive. Try the Zuppa di Verdura, vegetable soup served with a slice of toasted bread on the bottom. This is the place to try the famous Florentine steak. It's a two pound t-bone cooked rare. It will melt in your mouth! And don't forget the french fries; they're not frozen. Try the daily specials. I love the Braciole in Salsa offered up on Wednesdays and the fish dishes on Fridays. The food is a great bargain, so splurge on a bottle of great wine, such as Castello di Ama or Brolio.

Via Rosina, 4-6R
Behind Mercato di San Lorenzo in the Piazza Mercato Centrale
Tel: 055-283-259
Closed Sunday
Web site

Next door to Mario is a hidden surprise--Pepó, a lovely small trattoria. The new decor is warm and inviting. The staff is lovely, the food great, and they offer a nice house wine by Zanobini! It has become my new local dinner spot! I usually start with the coccoli, a Florentine specialty of fried bread with a creamy cheese and prosciutto. Everything here is great!

Tripe Stand at Central Market
Via dell'Ariento & Via San Antonio
In front of the Mercato Centrale

Beatrice Trambusti runs this Florentine tripe stand. She serves great "lampredotto" sandwiches! I always get mine with her great chili sauce and the bread dipped. In the winter she also offers several typical Florentine stews.

Casa del Vino (wine bar)
Via dell'Ariento, 16R
Near the Mercato di San Lorenzo (Mercato Centrale)
Tel: 055-215-609
Web site

This is one of the oldest wine bars in Florence; it's housed in an antiques shop from the 1880s. Run by his family that reopened it after the war, Gianni has an incredible selection of wines, priced for Italians. He is my wine god, carefully pairing wonderful wines to our class menus, often demanding that we change an ingredient to show off the wine to its best. Gianni has taken his father Bruno's old wine bar (Bruno passed away last summer) and taken it to new heights. You can still get a gottino of the house wine (the old tumbler traditionally served in a winebar), or try a Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, or Chianti Classico Riserva while you nibble way and peruse the shelves loaded with some of Italy's treasures! Downstairs in Gianni's secret domain, the cellars hide magnums and some of the best wines which only the best clients get. Guess who's on that list?

Inside the Mercato di San Lorenzo
Open for lunch only

This is a must on my walking tour. Let Mamma Benita and her sons Luigi and Filippo take care of you with wonderful Sicilian home cooking. Opened in 1989, and in a newly restored space, they serve hot pasta alongside marinated and grilled vegetables, special sandwiches, and roast pork sandwiches. My favorite dish is a savory Sicilian "french toast" made with crumbled bread soaked in milk and seasoned with Pecorino Romano cheese and wild herbs, fried, and served warm. They're open for breakfast, lunch, and snacks until 2 p.m. when the market closes. Friday is fish day. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday, try the lasagne made with Benita's hand-rolled pasta. Enjoy wine by the glass! My favorite is the prosecco, a sparkling white wine, on tap next to the Coca-Cola!

Ristorante I' Toscano
Via Guelfa,70R
Tel: 055-215-475
Closed Tuesday

A family run ristorante near the Mercato Central with great food and good service. Alessandro Valentini and his lovely daughter Camilla opened I'Toscano in 1989; it's located in front of the old Tuscan cigar manufacturing plant. I like the do-it-yourself crostini; they serve you toasted bread with three toppings as a starter. It's one of the few places in Florence where you can try peposo, the famous Renaissance pepper stew. Their recipe for the dish uses whole peppercorns, which are not to be eaten, creating a less spicy sauce than the classic Impruneta version. The menu changes with the seasons. Desserts are made on the premises; their tiramisu is incredible. Good tourist menu too. Nicer than a trattoria and not expensive.

i'tozzo di...pane
Via Guelfa,94/r
Tel: 055-475-753
Closed Sunday & Monday lunch
Reservations recommended in the summer

Cousins Andrea and Antonio Tozzetti opened this lovely trattoria last year. The kitchen is run by the mothers and wives; it's a real family affair. Lovingly decorated, great menu, and a fabulous back garden for summer dining. The "tozze di pane" are square bruschette served warm with a choice of toppings. There is a menu of great salads and pastas as well as light main courses. Desserts are by mom!

Trattoria Zà-Zà
Mercato di San Lorenzo (Mercato Centrale)
Tel: 055-21-54-11
Closed Sundays except last Sunday of the month

One of the famous old-style trattoria. Great Tuscan soups and pastas, crostone (large slices of Tuscan bread with toppings), and huge salads! Save room for the fabulous desserts and see if you can get some of their homemade grappa. They offer a great fixed price menu.

Via Taddea

Just down the street from my studio is Civaiolo, a real mom & dad shop that has a little of everything! Specializing in herbs, beans, rice, and grains, Stefano's shop also carries great functional kitchen items--cheese graters, mezzalune, Tuscan tostapane, and wooden gnocchi ridgers. A must visit!

Via Sant'Antonino 47r
Tel: 055-239-6850
Closed Sundays

Zanobini is the epitome of an "old family" establishment. Everyone is related and they produce their own reasonably priced wine. You can stop by for a glass or a bottle. They offer a large selection, but I prefer the house labels because they are more interesting and less predictable. Their olive oil is great too!

Antica Pasticceria Sieni
Via S. Antonino 54r
Tel: 055-213-830

Sieni is located on the corner of Via Sant'Antonino and Via del Ariento. Here the world passes by, from local shop owners in the street market to bankers and doctors! They have just redone the space adding a dining room in the back with a fabulous buffet. They serve my favorite Illy Coffee, great pastries, and cocktails! There's something here for everyone!

Forno di Ivana Bruschi
Via del Ariento, 21R
Open all day!

Ivana's bakery bread shop is one of my favorites! Not only does she have a fabulous selection of breads from all over Italy, her soft foccaccia, schiacciata morbida, is incredible. This is the place to get slices of filled schiacchiata for lunch or a fabulous bruschetta as well as cookies and pastries to munch on all day! You will have to fight the crowds to get in this tiny shop, but you will be glad you did!

Click on the sight below that you plan to visit and I'll recommend the best place nearby to stop for a bite to eat.

Galleria dell'Accademia

Cappelle Medicee

Museo del Bargello

Palazzo Vecchio

Mercato di
San Lorenzo

Mercato di
San Ambrogio

Santa Croce

The Duomo

Santa Maria Novella


Fuori Porta